Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Rum Review: Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum

On the inside cover of the packaging, the pictured above tale is told of how a young man, son of a wine and spirits merchant, ended up in Bermuda, instead of America.  Mr. Gosling explored the island, and finding no one selling wine and spirits, decided to set up shop.  He astutely recognized that sailors do like a drink now and then.  His descendants expanded into rum, which is now the principal offering of the company bearing his surname.

A word should be said about the Goslings rum of Bermuda.  It is not actually distilled on the island.  This company imports rums from Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad.  The imported rum is aged in ex-bourbon casks (and possibly other types of wood casks), and then blended according to recipe.  So, think of Goslings' enterprise as one of aging and blending rum for sale, as opposed to being a distiller.  Nothing wrong with that.  Goslings are to rum what independent bottlers like Hart Brothers are to Scotch whisky.  Just thought you should know.  A lot of incorrect claims on the internet state Goslings distill rum on Bermuda.  Not true.

About six years ago, I encountered this rum and really enjoyed it.  It came in a wooden box with straw.  I was a little skeptical of the quality of the rum given the extravagant packaging, but it proved to be an excellent sipping rum.  The packaging has changed.  In 2018, they switched to a box with a cover that flips open to reveal the story and the bottle.  I want to know if the rum has changed a little also from the last time I had it.

Premium Rum.

Silicone/plastic cork.


Age Statement
None.  I have not been able to locate any reliable source as to the approximate age of rums, but I would say based on my taste test that there are some older rums in the blend that I would guess in the 8-10 year vicinity.

Expensive (e.g. $75)

Wood Management
Again, not a lot of verifiable information on what types of casks used in the aging of the rum.  But, charred ex-bourbon casks is one for sure.

Artificial Color?
German law requires the disclosure of the use of artificial color (E150a) in spirits.  So, I visited the Frankfurt Duty Free Shopping website and it states E150a is present for color consistency.

Nose (undiluted)
Brown sugar!!  Sweet cherries, melted caramel, chocolate, vanilla and oak.

Palate (undiluted)
Sweet and spicy nip of brown sugar, caramel, aged molasses, specialty root beer, black cherries, cream, Ethiopian coffee, syrupy and cognac like.

Finish (undiluted)
Long but still sweet, milk chocolate, fudge and treacle abound.

General Impressions
Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum is definitely an aged rum.  Lots of older rums in the blend dominate more youthful ones, which contributes to a rich, smooth and luxuriant experience.  So, no bite, no nastiness whatsoever.  Definitely an easy sipper.  Principal flavors are brown sugar, caramel, some spices and with a little drying note of cranberry on the finish.  In two words, this rum is: brown sugar.

Criticisms?  Very few, but for me, I find this rum a little too sweet.  However, one should bear in mind that I am a whisky fan and not an expert by any means in rums, but this rum is on the sweeter side, such that two drams would be enough before I would have to move on to something else.  Rum, like Cognac, will be sweeter than say Scotch in general, but even among rums that are sweet, this one pushes that envelope a bit in my opinion.

When I had a bottle about 6 years ago, I recall the Old Rum being much drier and complex.  It is slightly sweeter now and smoother, two features that detract from complexity.  Presently, Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum is not what I would describe as exhibiting much complexity.  That said, this is a fine rum and if you have a sweet tooth, do consider this the next time you visit your spirits merchant and seek something other than Scotch.


Jason Debly