Spiced / Flavoured “Rum” and Additives

Country: Various
ABV: Various%
Cost at Time of Purchase: £Various
Type of Rum: Uncategorisable
– S * (See End)

Spiced Rum is everywhere in the UK.
What is the fuss about?

Does the image of rum have a problem?

Did someone say “undisclosed additives”?

The following is an article that started out focusing on spiced rums, but has evolved in to a commentary on the rum category, undisclosed additives in rum, obfuscation and putting the world of rum to rights.

OK, so cards on the table, I am starting this post from a “I drink rum, I do not think spiced/flavoured rums are rum” perspective. Therefore, I am naturally going to be a little bias (a lot, I hear you say), but I am genuinely trying to open my mind to spiced “rums” and see what the fuss is about.

I have lots of various spiced and flavoured rums that I have acquired over the years so have gone through a few of them (23 in total) to see if I can be persuaded or converted into this sweet land of sugar and spice and (apparently, so I am told) all things nice.

But before I go into any tastings, let me look at the spiced/flavoured rum category from a rum drinker’s point of view. Are spiced rums the issue or is it a wider rum category problem?

Well, first and foremost, spiced rum, flavoured rums and all the other various incarnations or adulterations are not rum. FULL STOP, there is no debate about this in my opinion! They might have some rum in them, but that is where any association with rum comes to a complete stop. Ask a whisk(e)y drinker if they think Drambuie is a Scotch or if Southern Comfort is a Bourbon and see what they say. What about speaking to a brandy drinker and asking them how they would rate Grand Marnier? Chances are you will get the same responses across the world – Drambuie and Southern Comfort are not whiskies and Grand Marnier is not a brandy. So, why therefore, in the rum world, do we have spiced rums lumped in with real rums? And for that matter, why are artificially sweetened rums being marketed as “rums” and even worse, “premium rums”?

I speak with many people about collecting and drinking rum and am invariably met with a similar response – “ooh, I love rum. I especially love Kraken, Morgan’s Spiced or [insert other spiced rum name here] as they are so nice and smooth.” What I explain, very politely is that these are not rums, but spirit drinks with some rum in them but that the actual flavours are so removed from real, traditional rum flavours that any similarity to rum stops with the name spiced “rum”. When I mention that Morgan’s Spiced, for example, is not even legally allowed to be called rum, people are astonished. Morgan’s is only 35% ABV. In the UK and EU, the minimum ABV to be described as “rum” is 37.5%. I believe that it is 40% in the USA, but they are a law unto themselves when it comes to selling rum anyway. I do also point out that if they enjoy what they are drinking, then carry on enjoying it, but be aware of what it is that you are buying.

Obfuscation! Deliberate?

So, why do we have this issue and misconception in the UK? My instinct is that obfuscation is the order of the day to allow the spirit industry’s big hitters to knock out cheap spirits ladened with additives that mask the true (usually poor) nature of the spirit (rum in this case). Add on a fancy bottle and of course, don’t forget the obligatory marketing b*llsh*t story to accompany it, premiumise it by getting some industry people, bar-tenders, dare I say it, bloggers and Spirit Influencers to big it up and hey presto you have a license to print money and make a big profit. And before you say it…..Yes, I am cynical when it comes to big businesses like this. The spiced rum category is copying the gin category – taking someone else’s distillation and flavouring it artificially. The clever part is the fermentation and distillation. In the gin industry, there are a small handful of distillers that make their own neutral spirit (aka vodka) and then sell it on to gin “makers”. I suspect only a small handful of those actually properly redistill it [the vodka] to make gin putting the whole botanicals in the distillation (London Dry style). I suspect the vast majority are just flavouring using essences and colours. This cheap and easy flavouring of someone else’s distillation (the hard/clever bit) is what has spread to the rum scene in the form of spiced and flavoured rums that bear virtually no resemblance to rum whatsoever and are cheap and easy to create! Should we now refer to gin as spiced vodka instead? No, as gin is its own category of spirit with specific definitions, but why can’t we do the same for spiced/flavoured rums and have a separate category that does not conflate them with proper rums?

I could buy a bottle of standard rum for £15 or so (retail including government taxes) a bag of Tate & Lyle for £1 and an assortment of spices for less than a fiver. Give or take a bit here and there I have a bottle of spiced rum for £20 and the rum in it will probably be infinitely better quality than the stuff that appears in many (or most or all) spiced rums I have encountered. Or you can set yourself up at home with a DIY still for £200 or so and then knock out neutral spirit for less than £1 / litre – don’t forget to inform His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Add some essences, sugars and spices and you have a spiced spirit drink for £1 or so. So, why are many of these spiced/flavoured rums north of £30? Some are even above £50 – you can buy some really decent rums for that price. Yes, I know about tax and duty before you ask! The cynic in me (see above) thinks there is a big mark-up and profit to be made from these flavoured spirit drinks and that leads me back to how I started this paragraph. Obfuscation! Blurring the lines between quality premium drinks that have a premium price for a reason – for example, the quality of the distillate inside the bottle coming from the artisanal creation and/or ageing process. And those that merely appear to be premium.

Looking deeper, this obfuscation goes beyond the spiced rum world – many “regular” rums, even those marketed as “premium” have additives in them. So, really, it is the rum category that has the problem. As long as rum consumers are deceived by cheap distillates masquerading as premium drinks, such that they continue to consider something to be premium when it is the antithesis of it, we have a problem. But until ALL rum producers, brands, distributors, marketers, bar-tenders and indeed bloggers or other writers within the industry start to sing from the same hymn sheet, things will not improve. Too many big businesses in the rum world rely on obfuscation, to care about the end product or the integrity of it. That does fit very well with why I write online about rum – aside from my passion and love for drinking it, I believe the aforementioned obfuscation tarnishes its image and creates a minefield for potential rum enthusiasts or even novices taking their first steps on their lifelong journey.

Rum is not like the vodka or gin industry. Vodka is a neutral, virtually flavourless spirit that relies on adding [usually] artificial flavours or essences. Gin, being vodka redistilled with mystical botanicals added, juniper predominantly, again, relies on something artificial being added to create the flavour. It does not come from the fermentation/distillation process, as is the case with rum, whisk(e)y, brandy and tequila. So when someone mentions adding spices or heaven forbid, botanicals in to rum, ask why they are doing it. It is not about enhancing or improving the natural flavour, it is about masking or hiding the true flavour such is the often poor quality spirit used as a base. It is also a short cut as creating great spirits takes time, not only in the fermentation and distillation processes, but the [often] lengthy ageing that follows – you cannot hurry Mother Nature, and of course, that costs money. Hence why there are so many gin producers as it is so quick and easy to produce and flavour.

Until we get this message across, many people starting out on their
rum journey will be deceived and short-changed, maybe to such an extent
that they will go elsewhere and choose other drinks.

I have heard people reference the rum category needing rules. Well, there are rules, they are simply ignored or not adhered to. Whisk(e)y does not have this problem – think about Scotch and its attributes for example. Would the aforementioned Drambuie be allowed to put “Scotch” on its label? No, because the rules for Scotch are respected and adhered to throughout the world. The same cannot be said about rum where unscrupulous producers p!ss all over the rules “because they can” and they get away with it. Some even piggy-back on the tails of others, using the provenance and history to sell something whilst ignoring its traditions and taking the rewards for the provenance away from its producers. Think about Barbados trying to have a Geographical Indicator [for rum] to protect its product and the name “Barbados Rum” which is of great value to the island and its inhabitants. Yet some producers are taking Barbados rum and its value away from the island to sell it elsewhere under the valuable brand/tagline of “Barbados Rum”. Some are even adulterating it with added “dosage” and other such rubbish that belongs in Cognac not in rum. So therefore the island of Barbados and its inhabitants lose its income to a foreign shore, whilst its products are tainted with additives in France – so-called “dosage”. This is another example of the problem in the rum category. Apparently, rum is only a fun spirit and so adding rubbish into it does not really matter. Or does it? And those poor former-colonial nations do not know what to do with their rums, so they need their colonial masters to do it for them. Or do they? Well, they have been successfully producing rums for hundreds of years so they must have been doing something right, so maybe us former colonials should allow those nations to continue making rum in the same way as countless generations have done in years gone by.

Rum can sit at the very top table of fine, quality spirits in the world and can easily hold its own when compared to the finest Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Bourbon or XO Champagne Cognac. But rum’s seat at this special table is at risk if we tacitly allow adulterations to be passed off as rum, no questions asked.

I started writing about about spiced rums, but when I do, it reminds me of what is wrong in the rum category and I hope that some of the above ramblings will make people a little more mindful of what they drink, the value of it and its provenance. If a spiced, or for that matter, non-spiced rum has a silly name, pirate-based marketing story on the label or funny shaped bottle, ask yourself why? Is it because they don’t know where the rum comes from or if they do, they don’t advertise it, due to its poor quality? Or is it just marketing b*llsh*t that obfuscates? Look at proper rum and they will tell you where it is from and how it was made – good quality does not need to rely on marketing, let alone added artificial flavours and sweet-stuff to “round it off”.

And so on to some tastings and testings. I test rums with a hydrometer so as to give an indication of just how much of the sweet stuff has been added. Have a look at my hydrometer page and please note the limitations of such a measurement i.e. it is an indication of something being added and it is not likely to actually be sugar.

Here is a link to all of my hydrometer tests:
RumShopBoy Hydrometer Test

Broadly speaking, the rums at the end of this list come under the heading of “this is vile, can I un-taste it as it is so disgusting”. Sorry to those who produce it, but this is just my opinion.


The “I can drink this if I have to” list:

Black Tears Cuban Spiced
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 37% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 12g / litre
Price: £34.95 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: A deep amber/bronze in colour. The aroma offers wood chips, chocolate, citrus, cinnamon and nutmeg. On the palate, this is not too sweet – it has a caramel underlying flavour joined with chocolate and citrus. There is a touch of peppery spice in the back of the palate when swallowed.
Rating 50/100

Jamaica Cove Black Pineapple
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 33.8% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 23g / litre
Price: £27
Taste: Medium amber colour. Pineapple and caramel with white pepper on the nose. Sweet and sticky, but you can taste some rum coming through that sweetness. Caramel, vanilla and inevitably, pineapple on the palate.
Rating 25/100

The Lash Spiced
ABV: 35%
Hydrometer Reading: 22% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 39g / litre
Price: £26 (Plus shipping and import duty/VAT, September 2022)
Taste: Bronze to orange in colour, the aromas feature cloves, glacier cherries, kirsch and nutmeg. This is just about palatable. The entry is light and sweet but not too sticky and cloying. Vanilla, cherries, cloves through the front to mid-palate with a hint of rum and some spicy pepper notes in the rear. Note the 35% ABV, meaning that this is not legally allowed to be called rum.
Rating 35/100

Balla Black (Cockspur)
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 34.5% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 20g / litre
Price: £24.99 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Very dark, bronze to mahogany colour. Vanilla crème brûlée/burnt sugar on the nose, which is repeated on the palate. This is drinkable and to be fair, it does say “spirit drink” on the label.
Rating 40/100

Three Tides Smoked Demerara
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 40% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 0-5g / litre
Price: £34.95 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Medium-deep amber in colour. Burnt sugar/caramel, vanilla and smoke (inevitably) on the nose. The taste produces an upfront hit of smokiness and caramel. As the drink passes through the mouth, so the levels of smoke increase. At the rear, it is more tobacco-like accompanied by dark chocolate coated chillies and pepper. This drink has a medium finish and is actually quite pleasant when compared to the other drinks I have been trying for this review.
Rating 55/100

The “don’t go back for a second taste” and “save your money for something decent or that actually tastes like rum” list:

Bumbu XO
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 37% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 12g / litre
Price: £38.99 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: Deep, dark colour. Caramel and vanilla on the nose. Caramel, vanilla, light oak and citrus on the palate. Not much actual rum flavour though, this is very sticky and cloying. The antithesis of Barbadian rum.
Rating 20/100

Spirited Union Sweet Orange and Ginger
ABV: 38%
Hydrometer Reading: 36.6% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 6g / litre
Price: £28.03 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: Very pale, light lemon in colour. Aromas of a citrus perfume – as if someone had sprayed an air freshener. Some grapefruit and mandarin. The taste offers orange aplenty, but not real orange – more like an artificial essence. Some grapefruit notes, too and a hint of spice towards the rear, notably ginger and pepper.
Rating 10/100

Diablesse Clementine Spiced
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 26.7% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 45g / litre
Price: £26.72 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: Light amber with a touch of orange in colour. The aroma is of cloves, menthol and cough sweets. The flavour is sweet, syrupy and sticky, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cough mixture and a hint of artificial sweet citrus. Absolutely vile!
Rating 1/100

World’s End Spiced
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 25% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 50g / litre
Price: £33
Taste: Rusty brown to deep bronze in colour. The aroma features cloves, caramel and vanilla. This is sticky, full of cloying sweet sugar and sickly cloves with vanilla essence. This is disgusting – worse than cough mixture!
Rating 0/100

Salford Dark Spiced
: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 33.6% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 24g / litre
Price: £25 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: Dark mahogany colour – darker than any rum I have in my rum room (I have over 600 different ones). The aroma is feint vanilla essence, coconut (artificial, like Malibu) and pepper but almost nothing else. The taste is probably the worst thing I have ever tried in my life. No rum flavours, just something indescribably foul that I cannot identify.
Rating 0/100 (If I could put a negative score I would)

Langs Banana
ABV: 37.5%
Hydrometer Reading: 25.7% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 38.5g / litre
Price: £20.59 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: Pale lemony colour. The aroma is bubble gum and that fake banana that you get in those holiday drinks you buy (tastes great when you are away, but awful when you get home). A sweet sickly, banana essence flavour with some caramel and cinnamon on the palate. Yuk!
If you want to try a banana flavoured rum, try La Hechicera Banana Infused Rum – it tastes of rum and bananas without being sickly sweet and artificial.
Rating 5/100

Spytail Ginger
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 27.8% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 41g / litre
Price: £25.58 (Master of Malt, July 2022)
Taste: Medium amber to orange in colour. The aroma offers vanilla, sugar, mild ginger and something resembling a cough lozenge. The flavour is just like a cough sweet, but not one of those fruity flavoured ones – the disgusting ones you had when you were a kid. It is sticky, sickly and sweet with no discernible rum flavours.
Rating 0/100

Hawksbill Caribbean Spiced
ABV: 38.8%
Hydrometer Reading: 25% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 45g / litre
Price: £26.45 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Medium amber colour. Cloves, cough mixture, sweet ginger and mandarin on the nose. This tastes and feels like an absolute sugar bomb! Bubble gum, vanilla, salted caramel, cloves and mandarin on the palate – vile! Is it possible to un-taste something?
Rating 0/100

Dead Man’s Fingers
ABV: 37.5%
Hydrometer Reading: 22% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 49g/ litre
Price: £20.99 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Medium amber to orange in colour. Sweet caramelised fruits, red glacier cherries, cloves and a dead something or other make up the aromas. Sweet on the palate, some citrus (lemon), orange and vanilla notes that did not come through on the nose, cinnamon donuts, caramel. Mild white pepper at the rear of the palate. There might as well actually really be dead man’s fingers in it, given the way it tastes!
Rating 15/100

Soggy Dollar Island Spiced
ABV: 35%
Hydrometer Reading: 33.5% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 5g/ litre
Price: £28 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Light to medium amber colour. It smells disgusting – ginger, cloves and citrus (lemon I think). Not much rum flavour on the palate – plenty of ginger and citrus (lemon) accompanied by spices, notably cinnamon and nutmeg. Some pepper and ginger at the rear of the palate, too. Note the 35% ABV, meaning that this is not legally allowed to be called rum.
Rating 15/100

Cockspur Spiced
ABV: 22%
Hydrometer Reading: 13.5% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 61g/ litre
Price: £17.99 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Pale lemon colour. Caramel, vanilla and cloves on the nose, which come through on the palate, too. But this is such a low ABV that it tastes like sugary water. Awful stuff! Note the 22% ABV, meaning that this is not legally allowed to be called rum.
Rating 0/100

Old J Tiki Fire Spiced
ABV: 75.5%
Hydrometer Reading: 66% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 55g/ litre
Price: £39.95 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Very pale lemon colour. The aroma is sugar/caramel, vanilla and lime cordial. On the palate it is very sticky and cloying. Flavours of caramel, vanilla and artificial lime. The ABV provides some spicy pepper to the rear of the palate.
Rating 15/100

Pink Pigeon Original
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 27.5% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 43g/ litre
Price: £25.19 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Pale, straw-like colour. Vanilla, and lots of it, on the nose. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus (lemon). The entry is very sweet and cloying in texture. Lots of vanilla and I seriously mean lots of it – like the icing (frosting) in fairy cakes (cup cakes). The mid-palate produces more vanilla notes. At the rear, there is a touch of lemon, a vague hint of rum and tons more vanilla.
Rating 15/100

Bacardi Carta Fuego “Red Spiced Spirit Drink”
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 8% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 98g/ litre
Price: £22.99 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Orange, approaching Lucozade in colour! Pepper and caramel on the nose and also on the palate. Way too sweet – just check out the hydrometer reading!
Rating 0/100

Bacardi Razz
ABV: 32%
Hydrometer Reading: 0% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 98g/ litre
Price: £17.99 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Clear in colour. Aromas of fake fruit – could be raspberry but difficult to tell as it smells like the sort of aroma in a cough lozenge. The taste is of sugar, like drinking neat cordial. Very sweet, artificial taste worse than cough mixture. Once again, look at the hydrometer reading – Diabetes sufferers beware! Note the 32% ABV, meaning that this is not legally allowed to be called rum.
Rating 0/100

Pineapple Grenade
ABV: 65%
Hydrometer Reading: 53% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 64g/ litre
Price: £32.99 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Orange, almost like Lucozade in colour. Salted caramel and a hint of pineapple on the nose. It is sweet and sticky to drink. Pineapple and very cloying caramel flavours. There is a welcome high-ABV warmth/power at the rear of the palate.
Rating 25/100

Don Papa Small Batch
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 32% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 29g/ litre
Price: £30.45 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Medium-deep amber in colour. Citrus notes of lemon and mandarin on the nose along with vanilla. The taste is like a cough lozenge! Vanilla, lemon, mandarin and a slight hint of rum at the back of the palate.
Rating 20/100

Sailor Jerry
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: 40% @20˚C
Estimated added sugars: 0-5g/ litre
Price: £20 (Master of Malt, September 2022)
Taste: Medium amber colour. The nose and flavour are dominated by loads of vanilla and caramel. It is incredibly sweet and has little or no actual rum flavour. This highlights the shortfall of the hydrometer tests as drinks producers get more and more clever at hiding the additives in rums. There is something incredibly sweet in this, but it is not detectable sugars.
Rating 0/100


My overall sentiments surrounding these drinks focuses on the flavours. The vast majority that I have tried in spiced rum liqueurs are fake, artificial ones, typically like a cough lozenge accompanied by sickly sweet, cloying stickiness – even the ones that tested relatively low for additives. Although that does highlight the shortfall of the hydrometer tests. Producers are adept at adding all kinds of sweeteners, some of which do not show up when measuring the density of a drink. As always, trust your instinct – if it tastes cloyingly sweet and feels sticky, then it probably has something in it that should not be there.

Sugar and spice, but definitely NO obligation to be nice.

You often read reviews mentioning the “smoothness” of these drinks or the “amazing flavours”. What the consumers of these drinks do not realise is that the “smoothness” comes from the sugary wines and additives, probably covering up a poor quality and cheap base-spirit. The “amazing flavours” are nothing to do with flavours found in rum, they are merely artificially added ingredients.

Some even jump on the gin bandwagon using the term botanicals – it makes me shudder to think of such a concept. You could have plain vodka, chuck in a load of spices and crap, don’t forget tons of colouring and still end up with the same taste. I think spiced rum producers are trying to mimic the gin world where vodka is used along with a bunch of added flavours and some clever marketing.

The other thing to note is that these spiced/flavoured rum liqueurs are not cheap. Poor quality base spirits are used, often they are multi column, cheap and bulk produced/purchased, but these drinks are incredibly pricey. I guess fancy bottles, packaging, labels, not to mention the creative obligatory pirate story on the back all cost lots of money. As always, drink what you like, know what you are paying for (Thank you Richard Seale of Foursquare Rum Distillery for that quote).

Keep the “rum” name out of spiced rums .
It just does not belong there!

These drinks are not for me, clearly. But then they are not for any rum drinker, whether it is someone who sips, mixes them in cocktails or drowns them in cola, as they simply do not taste like rum. And that is not just spiced “rum” drinks, but it extends to those ladened with sweet wines and other such nonsense (Don Papa, Bumbu and Zacapa, for example). In fact they are so far away from the flavour of rum that they should be called something completely different. How about just spirit drinks or liqueurs? Up to you to drink and enjoy whatever you wish of course and if you enjoy it, then great, carry on, live life how you want to.

But be aware when you consume these products, you are not drinking rum! People aspire to a suave image of sipping sophisticated neat spirits, but as many cannot actually do this, they are tempted by the dark world of sugar-bomb spiced abominations.

I think that a big step forward would be for the drink’s industry to be forced to go down the food industry route and declare a full list of ingredients on the label. At least, this would assist consumers when they are deciding what to purchase. This would be enhanced further if they adopt the nutritional information too – if you knew the equivalent of 10-20 teaspoons of sugar was in your spiced rum drink, would you still buy it? Would you knowingly choose a drink with glycerine in? Or would you choose the real rum with 0 teaspoons of sugar in it, no additives and a suitably reduced calorie value, too?

At the moment, if you want to know about additives in rums, the only way is by looking at online rum writers who try to promote good rums in a positive way, whilst highlighting the deceptive tactics of many unscrupulous brands.

All of this said, I want to finish on a positive note. I am aware that many rum drinkers start their rum exploration with spiced rums, although myself, I started with Appleton and have not looked back. I cannot see a link between drinking a spiced rum liqueur and drinking rum, but others do that. So rather than just put down spiced rums or tell people not to drink them, I would rather suggest alternatives to try so as to broaden your palate and maybe head more towards drinking proper rum all the time.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started and they are all at pretty decent price points, plus they often appear on Amazon deals, too.

  • Appleton Estate
    • Kingston 62 (£19.45, Amazon September 2022)
    • Signature Blend (£22.49, Amazon September 2022)
    • 8 Year Old (£26, Amazon September 2022)
  • Foursquare / Doorly’s
    • 5 Year Old (£22.80, Amazon September 2022)
  • Chairman’s Reserve Original (£26.45, The Whisky Exchange September 2022)
  • Don Q “Gold” (£23.95, The Whisky Exchange September 2022)

And if your local pub or bar only has generic or spiced brands, speak to them and ask them to get a bottle of one of the above in. Many pub/bar owners will do so and when others visit, they will be able to choose a better quality rum.

Keep looking forwards on your lifelong rum journey – drinking rum does not have to be expensive and it can be amazing, but drink something real, not an illusion.

Value: 0/10

As I have written above, considering the poor quality spirits used (generally) and the artificial, fake ingredients and essences, these are frightfully expensive and way over-priced. I have yet to find a spiced rum I would recommend and could honestly say is worth the price charged for it.

Flavour Profile:


Links / Notes:

Sorry to any producers or promoters of the drinks I have included on this page. I do not mean to cause any offence, I am merely expressing my opinion about various flavoured spirit drinks, whilst raising awareness about what they represent. I am also aware that some spiced/flavoured rums do contain a quality distillate and that quality ingredients are used, but in my experience, the vast majority do not. Sometimes, there are spiced rums that do not have added sweeteners, but they are very much the exception.

Some people might consider Bumbu and Don Papa to be “rum”. Due to their altered tastes bearing no resemblance to rum, I consider them to be spiced/flavoured rums. Bumbu is an example of what Barbados rum should NOT taste like, yet it is marketed as “Barbados Rum” highlighting the need for a Barbados Geographical Indication (mentioned/discussed above)..

Thank you for reading and for your support.

Review No: 177

P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.

Foursquare Elysium
Foursquare Sovereignty
Foursquare Isonomy
Foursquare Elysium Review
Foursquare Private Cask Selection
The Whisky Exchange
The Whisky Exchange Foursquare Elysium
Hydrometer Test

5 thoughts on “Spiced / Flavoured “Rum” and Additives

  1. Hey man, great article. Totally agree – spiced and flavoured rums taste awful, are a violation and total sacrilege. Anyone drinking them should instinctually know they are garbage.

    I guess purely conversationally, we all evidently have different palates or taste preferences. I only say that as I’ve tried a bottle of Appletons a couple of times and didn’t like it…tasted of plastic!

    And I had a Hampden too and poured the bottle away as it was awful. Tasted off. Almost acerbic. Really rough. Has made me wary of Jamaican rums full stop. And worst of all, Don Q Gran Anejo, absolutely awful. Made my son and I feel ill the taste was that bad. Immediately poured the whole bottle away which was disappointing as it was a birthday present for him but it was just totally grim.

    Will stick to El Dorado 12, 15 and 21 year olds. And Diplomatico. And perhaps oddly, I do like the Grander 8 Year Old from Panama. Nice taste and it’s oddly rather potent for 45% as well as I seem to get more drunk when drinking it than other rums and it yields a very mellow buzz/sensation at the top of your head. Good stuff!

    All the best and keep writin’ your brilliantly honest, educational and invested reviews! 👍🥃


  2. Hi James,
    Many thanks for your kind words.

    One’s choice of rums is very much an individual thing – there is no right and wrong, just know what you are drinking and what you are paying for.
    I very much enjoy El Dorado 15 and 21, but as with all of their core range, there are undisclosed additives in them, none of which should be there in my opinion. When I last tested them, the 12yo had around 35g / litre, the 15yo had 35.5g / litre and the 21yo 33g / litre, although it is worth noting that they have rebranded them and I am told they have lower amounts now, which is encouraging. Diplomatico are well known for dosing most of their rums, too – the Reserva Exclusiva for example has around 29g / litre of added sweet stuff.

    All Jamaican rums and Don Q’s rums are additive-free, which I why I recommended them. I did consider putting ED and Diplo, but given my dislike of undisclosed additives, I felt that would have been wrong.

    Appleton has always been my “go to” rum that I use as a comparison. They have genuine (minimum) age statements, open/honest production methods and no additives, plus very good price points. I would be curious to know which one you tried.
    Hampden, like with Worthy Park is often not for the feint hearted given it is pure pot still, but they are great rums, too and of course, no additives. Don Q is much lighter in style, which is why I suggested it and again, additive-free. Grander tastes more potent as it is additive-free and it is those additives that alter the flavours of natural rum so compared to other Panamanian rums (e.g. Abuelo), which are usually dosed and presented at 40%, it has more of a kick.


    1. Many thanks for that Sir. I think the Appleton I tried a couple of times may have been the entry level from the supermarket. All the very best, 👍🥃


      1. Hi James,
        The entry level Appleton (now called Kingston 62) is not bad for the price, but for just a few pounds extra, the Signature Blend and 8 Year Old are superb and excellent value. Keep an eye on Amazon as they often have the 8 year old on offer and also in a subscribe and save deal – I picked one up a couple of months ago for £19!


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