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Selecting Coconut Rum: Does Cost Matter?


What is going on in the world of rum? The number of flavored rums is rivaling that of flavored vodkas. Coconut rum is the most prevalent flavor on the shelves. Even small batch rum producers have their own take on coconut rum. And the prices are all over the map. It begs the question, “If you are going to mix coconut rum in a cocktail, does the quality/cost matter?”

Flavored rums have been around since the late 20th century. Most producers begin with a white rum base adding artificial or natural ingredients. Some small batch rum producers also use an infusion process of fruits or herbs. The price point of the latter rivals that of a sipping rum.

For this test we used:
Value Brand: Calypso 1.75 ml $14/bottle
Name Brand: Captain Morgan Parrot Bay 750 ml $14/bottle
Artisanal: Siesta Key 750 ml $22/bottle

Our first test was straight up. Calypso and Captain Morgan have the same subtle coconut nose however, on the palate, Captain Morgan coats our senses with coconut from start to finish. Siesta Key, at 70 proof, had a strong alcohol nose. The notes are caramel, vanilla and butterscotch, NOT coconut. It reminded us of a Werther’s hard candy with an alcohol bite. The sweet flavors quickly turn sour and burn the throat going down. Adding an ice cube, as the producer suggests, doesn’t help.

Next was a traditional Daiquiri made with 2.5 parts coconut rum and 1 part lime. Here the Captain Morgan shines. The drink was so well balanced that you sensed you were having a top shelf drink. Calypso was a strong second though it lacked the richness of Captain Morgan. Although the lime doesn’t help the strong alcohol bite of the Siesta Key the buttery notes become more prominent.

Next up the traditional Piña Colada: 2 parts Coconut Rum, ½ part coconut cream and 1 ½ parts pineapple juice. The Calypso and the Siesta Key have a strong alcohol note overshadowing the coconut. Once again, Captain Morgan is the winner balancing the sweetness of the coconuts with the pineapple. Captain went down so smoothly we had to take a break before test number four.

When we are in the islands we grab a bottle of coconut rum and a box of juice mixing equal parts over a tall glass of ice. Call us loopy but here the Calypso is best, followed by Siesta then Captain Morgan. Calypso was more refreshing while Captain Morgan was heavier and slightly overpowering in the coconut. Siesta, though not coconut(y) mixes well with pineapple.

Calypso and Captain Morgan ran neck and neck while Siesta Key, presenting as a finer rum, is not worth the price for mixing. Does the quality/cost of the coconut rum matter? Depends on how many rum drinks you’re serving.


About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

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