According to the website www.piratesgrogrum.com “Pirate’s Grog is the award winning golden rum from Roatán, a small Caribbean island situated 60km off the coast of Honduras.”
On the website is a story about British travellers Gareth and Beth discovering this rum while visiting Roatán and taking it back to the U.K where it is now marketed and sold.
The story, as expected I guess, talks of buccaneers and pirates. The rum itself is attributed to “alchemist” (I’m not sure if that means distiller or blender) Robert J. van der Weg.
Anyway, I first saw this rum being spruiked on a Facebook page that I frequent (The Ministry of Rum) and the bottle caught my eye. I must admit that I’m a sucker for innovative marketing and I’m probably a little naive in that regard. One thing I do tend to avoid though is bottles shaped like pistols or skulls. The bottle looked great and obviously caught my eye. If nothing else, I thought it would look good sitting in my rum cabinet.
I fished around the internet looking for any reviews of Pirates Grog No13 and I couldn’t find anything on any of the respected sites that I rely on a lot, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and order a bottle.
The bottle cost 79 Pounds, ($128 Aus) which itself isn’t cheap I guess but then add a further $50 Aus to the price for shipping and now it’s up there in the same price range as some of the very best rums I own. Hmmmmmm I hope it’s good.
I placed my order and a couple of weeks later it arrived from the U.K. To say it was packaged well would be an understatement. It arrived in a huge cardboard box filled with protective filler. In the middle of all that was another cardboard box which contained a polystyrene tube. Inside the tube was the bottle wrapped in paper. You could have airdropped this bottle and it would have arrived in one piece. Well that answered the reason for the high price for post and packing.
The bottle itself is nice. A black, almost ceramic looking number, a bit like an olde world medicine bottle, not too unlike a Hendricks Gin bottle. It has a nice wooden cork stopper and that distinctive gold and black label.
At this point I’m not sure whether to take it too seriously though as I’m not sure who it’s marketed to. It has huge novelty appeal but I’m hoping it also tastes good and isn’t just a big gimmick.
So I better find out I guess. It has that satisfying “Pop” you can only get with a real cork stopper. I poured a healthy glug and took a sniff. Maybe I wasn’t being fair to the rum and had already formed an opinion of it but I was pleasantly surprised by its aroma. I was almost expecting a sweet liquor to greet me but infact it’s actually quite nice and smells very balanced. It instantly reminded me of the St Lucian rums that I love. Oooo this could be good. At 40% ABV it was never going to burn too much but there is a pleasant amount of heat in the nose. Apparently it’s a 13 year aged rum with a “Splash of 8 yr”. If it genuinely is 13 years then it shows with its mature aroma. All the usual suspects are there, Dried figs, caramel, some ginger bread.
To the taste test. As it’s only a 40% expression, I decided to forego any ice and try it neat.
Initial impression was that Pirates Grog No13 is quite sweet but not terribly over the top. I’d be interested to know if anything has been added sugar wise. It’s very smooth which isn’t something I’m a fan of. There’s really no kick to it and, I dunno, I just suspect something is giving it it’s smoothness other than ageing. Flavour wise I got an initial earthy taste. Earthy like the damp rain forest undergrowth mulch. That probably doesn’t sound too appealing but it’s actually quite pleasant. Then some oak pops up. The oakiness is nicely balanced and blends well with the earthy tones. A few sticky dates and plump raisins and sultanas bring it all together. I would have liked a bit more spice and complexity especially considering the price range. This is a very safe rum which will appeal to the very people that I suspect its aimed at. There’s nothing challenging here.
One thing that I wasn’t keen on was the very very long after taste. It starts out fine but then drifts off into an almost metallic chemical soapy experience. It let down what was a surprisingly pleasant experience really.
I guess if I had to score Pirates Grog No13 I’d give it 5/10 which reflects the fact that in my mind its a safe, middle of the road rum that won’t really offend novices but won’t challenge people who enjoy something a bit more complex. At the end of the day though, in my opinion, it’s not a great rum but then again it’s not bad either. I’d rank it alongside the Flor de Cana 18.