Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rum Review: Cockspur 12

Cockspur is a Bajan rum company founded in 1884 by a Dutch sailor, Valdemar Hanschell and located right on the beach north of Barbados' capital Bridgetown. The company was passed off to the Stade brothers, who installed a continuous still alongside the company's original pot still. While less well known than Mount Gay, the other big distillery on Barbados, Cockspur puts out solid products at very reasonable prices.

Cockspur 12

Nose: dusty berries, dry toffee/caramel, a bit of vanilla and light oak. After adding a few drops of water, the nose becomes richer, with increased but well-intengrated oak presence, brown sugar, and more vanilla.

Taste: caramel sweetness builds from the front, a bit of muddled berries mid-palate, very light oak tannins and pepper near the back. After dilution, the sweetness becomes more like simple sucrose, which is also a bit overwhelming.

Finish: oak, pepper, residual sweetness

Cockspur 12 (it never actually says 'year' on the label) is a blend of 8, 10, and 12 year old rums. For as old as this rum is, I suspect that it is mostly made from rums aged in refill barrels, though they claim to use both ex-bourbon and fresh oak barrels. The rum has clearly been impacted by oak, with the strong caramel and vanilla notes, but there is very little of the tannic quality one finds in a lot of long-aged rums (which would be especially evident from new oak barrels). I find it very comparable to Cruzan Single Barrel, both in terms of flavors and price. However, Cockspur 12 gains an edge by having more natural flavors than Cruzan, the latter of which is slightly marred by an artificial cast to its vanilla notes. So if you're looking for a sweeter, easy sipping rum, Cockspur 12 is going to be a very good choice. It's also a solid value, usually retailing for under $30. With a bit more complexity it would be elevated in my estimation, but it does what it does very well.

Earthly Delights
2 oz Cockspur 12
1 tsp allspice dram
0.5 tsp vanilla syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
3 drops cardamom bitters

The nose is a delicious blend of rum, vanilla, and cardamom. The sip begins sweetly, building towards the back. Molasses notes from the rum, vanilla, and spice from the dram and bitters all come in mid-palate.

While not the most complex drink, the ingredients add to the rum without overwhelming it. Quite a satisfying sipper.


  1. I finally picked up a bottle of this stuff in late November.

    The words from your review which I relate with for this rum is "dusty berries", "oak", and "pepper".

    It's strange to me that you call it a sweet rum, because I found it anything but sweet. Perhaps its sweet for its style, but sweet rum to me is something like Zaya or an aged Demerara. Then again, I don't think I've actually sipped it after having added water. Looks like I know what I'll be doing tonight. :)

    "Earthy" is the word I keep coming back to for this. It has flavors of black pepper, but not the heat of black pepper, referring to the easy-going-ness of it that you mentioned. I get a bit of tannins, and subdued baking spices... clove, nutmeg.

    I completely agree with comparing it to Cruzan Single Barrel.

    1. To me, rums like Zaya and Zacapa edge towards being liqueurs. It tastes like sugar has been added, rather than simply extracted from the barrel (especially given how few oak tannins seem to go along with some of those old rums). Cockspur seems sweet like a sweeter bourbon or scotch, with caramel and wood sugars.

  2. lovw working with it