In 1884 a Dutch sailor by the name of Valdemar Hanschell settled in Barbados and founded a trading company that supplied ships with ropes, sails, salt, food, and fresh water for their voyages. It was during this time that he also founded Cockspur rum for local consumers and sailors in port. He partnered up with the Stade brothers, owners of the West Indies Rum refinery, and let them create his product lines. Founded in Brighton Beach in St. Michael, the distillery was built beside the coral filtered aquifer. They used pot stills and introduced the first continuous still to the Caribbean. The brothers sold the distillery to a Barbadian business group and the new owners renamed the company "The West Indies Rum Distillery Limited."
Present day Cockspur has several products in the market place with a range of rums from a young gold to a 12 year-old product. Their latest release for the U.S. market is Cockspur 130 Overproof rum. Bottled straight from the still, this rum cuts the midline of its competitors in the overproof market that range from a little over a 100 proof on up to 151 proof.
Most of the Cockspur rums have a standard 750 ml bottle that is easy to handle with uniform red screw tops. Both the front and back labels are white red and black. The front displays the basic information, showcasing the 130 proof boldly, and the back shares the story of the rum company.
When I poured the rum a floral bouquet rises from the glass. As the bouquet faded I detected vanilla, molasses, sweet banana, balanced by sharp citrus notes. It is hard to miss the ethanol note but it is not as harsh as I expected.
The first sip provides a nice black pepper pop, followed quickly by the sweet swirl of vanilla and molasses. As the heat of the overproof alcohol pops the fruit notes also come into play. No surprise even with subsequent sips the fire of the liquid kicks into play mid palate and lingers into a dry and slightly acidic finish.
When I evaluate overproof rums I always take small sips. Anything more will over saturate the palate and fry it. I also balance it out with a healthy amount of water.
Overall I believe this will be a good addition to the overproof market and, like all overproof liquors, must be carefully balanced with the other flavors of the cocktails they in which they are used. I think the pepper and fruit combo will play well with most Tiki cocktails or provide a nice float. At around twenty dollars a bottle, the price is right to experiment and discover what works best for you.
Originally Reviewed for Got Rum? magazine.