I first heard hints that Bacardi might be producing spiced rum at the Miami Rum Festival. Once the announcement was made the marketing build up in my area was intense and my friends began asking me what I thought a week before the product actually released. I enjoy good spiced rum and had every hope that Bacardi would produce a solid competitive product for the marketplace. The base rum is a blend of 1-3 year old rums and aged in charred American white oak barrels.
When I went to the store to pick the bottle up I was curious to see how the bottles would stand out on the shelves of rum at my favorite store. Arranged with all of the other Bacardi rums the Oakheart bottle screams “Look at me! I am something different”. The bottle has a nice chiseled texture that makes it appear (to me) to be carved out of a block of ice instead of the typical smooth glass that you see with the rest of the Bacardi brand. The front label reminded me of a heraldic shield or helmet purposely drawing the eye to the “Smooth Spiced Rum” label at the base of the glass. It is capped with a gold and black screw top with 1862 running down the neck label.
The liquid has a rich amber glow in the bottle, which transitions to nice honey amber in the tasting glass.
As I filled my tasting glass the sweet smell of molasses and honey filled the air. As I swirled the glass I watched short legs form and race down the glass. This brought the vanilla and pepper notes into play. After I let it breathe the pepper was a little more prominent which also brought up some woody oak notes. I liked that it took a moment for the oak notes to appear.
The first sip surprised me with a strong maple note which played nicely with the honey, cinnamon and nutmeg. A friend of mine said it reminded him of dessert and I have to agree. It immediately made me think of an apple turnover. Additional sips revealed the honey cinnamon fruity profile and I became really curious about how well this would play with Coke. There is a slightly sweet pepper and char pop at the finish that does not linger on the palate.
I have to note that this rum is 70 proof which is slightly lower than a lot of spiced rums on the market. This is not a downside - just worthy of attention when you are blending your drink. Experimenting with it, after figuring out the right proportions to fit my tastes, I created a nice rum and coke. The honey pop was a pleasant surprise and the coke repressed the pepper notes at the finish. If anything I picked up a cinnamon and nutmeg highlight that provided a nice end to the cocktail.
I believe Bacardi has created a nice quality product that is good as a sipper or a mixer. This makes me hope that, with its incredibly affordable price point, it will be a good introduction to the rum category for a newly legal drinker. Neat it would not be my first choice but is nice option to add to the cabinet. Personally I have recommended it as an excellent choice for rum and coke (or Oak and Coke if you want to go along with the advertising campaign). As an ingredient rum I look forward to using it as my spice option.