Aldi Crossbones Premium Rum Mashup

I shop in Aldi. I shop there for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that the general price to quality ratio of the stuff you get is excellent. Sure, there are a few duds on their shelves, but on the whole the stuff I buy is better in quality than other supermarkets at the same price point, if we’re comparing like for like. This extends right into their alcoholic drinks range with their wines blowing away stuff 3 times the price. Long have Aldi done a range of whiskies and about a billion gins, but rum has always lagged behind. They put out the Sea Dog spiced rum this year which really wasn’t very good, but I have been hoping for more offerings. So there I was, minding my own business in the Aisle of Wonder when I see some new rum. I’ll have some of that!

A while ago Aldi released 2 new “Premium” rums as part of their Special Buys (they come, they go, then they’re gone), one was a golden rum and one was a dark rum, both called “Crossbones”. As I have a lot of time for Aldi I thought I’d give them chance to make amends for the Sea Dog. I’m going to review both rums here to give you a fair account of them against each other as I imagine most people will see them on the shelf and be wondering which one to go for.

Update: It looks like these rums may have been incorporated into the wider range rather than Special Buy as they are now sitting with the rest of the booze on the main shelf. Hopefully the dark rum will be part of the core range.

First, lets start with the review of Aldi Crossbones Premium Golden Rum:

What is it? Dunno. Rum. It’s a blend of young and older rums from around the Caribbean, aged in oak casks. We don’t know the still type, or the countries, or how long they have been aged in oak for. So we’ve looking at a generic rum blend here. Without a doubt this will be entirely from molasses.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? My hydrometer says 4g/l, that is perfectly fine and generally considered to be “none” as anything under 5g/l can be attributed by cask sugars. So well done Aldi, they’ve not smoothed it over with sugar.

Nose: Pretty pleasant actually, smells like rum. Some spirity varnish notes and it’s on the lighter Cuban or Central American side, high in column still, but none the less it’s a fair nose; banana, coconut, caramels and baking spices with cinnamon and clove. A touch of runny honey, vanilla and a little menthol.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Light and grassy, slightly astringent but not too bad, easy to drink neat. It’s a rinse and repeat of the nose really, a little more savoury note here though with some brine and a touch of tar but nothing too much as to sway it from the oak caramels and spices.

Finish: Short. More astringent here and a little bitter, still some cinnamon, caramel and vanilla though. It gets some lime part way through which lifts it.

Thoughts? A standard “golden rum” I guess. Generally though it’s decent enough. I’ve had worse rums for more money and in respect to Aldi it probably wasn’t ever designed to be drunk neat from a Copita glass and judged by some dude on the internet. Based on that, its general flavour and price of a mere £15 I think it’s a solid buy.

 

Ok, let’s move on to the Aldi Crossbones Premium Dark Rum review:

What is it? A bit more detail here; this one is solely a blend of Jamaican column and pot still rums, so we know we’re likely to be getting a bit more in terms of quality, it’ll be solely from molasses. No mention of ageing here, but then I don’t know what defines “older” rum in the Golden one anyway, the lack of any age indication isn’t a deal breaker, it’s a dark rum blend.

Coloured (oh yes, heavily), chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? As with the Golden Rum, this has come in at 4g/l so totally fine. No issue here.

Nose: Yikes. Big, rich and decadent that’s for sure, definitely got some Jamaican pot still in here. It’s going for the “Navy” style of rum, if that’s your thing. Black bananas, boot polish, treacle toffee, molasses, roasted coffee beans and black olives. Notes of camphor, soil, wet leaves and brine. There is a slight meaty note too, mushroom’y, maybe ham and a little grilled pineapple.

Palate: Yeah, same here. Full mouth though, quite oily and rich but not cloying. Chocolate, fudge, cinnamon, treacle toffee again and a massive waft of banana bread, black bananas, ginger and coffee. It still has some savoury notes though with that boot polish, some leather, camphor and mushroom. A little black olive and brine too at the end.

Finish: Medium this time. Stays on the treacle, coffee, chocolate and wood spices here with ginger, clove and nutmeg. A little vanilla and coconut towards the end and a lighter banana note.

Thoughts? Heh. Really pretty good. Lots of rich flavours, not much heat or astringency and easy to drink neat. It’d mix very well but honestly it’s easy peasy to drink it neat. I imagine this is what most people expect when they order a “dark rum” and it delivers on that expectation.

Just reading the bottle tag I knew that this one would be better than the Golden rum, it was the one I originally went for before I decided to get both; knowing it’s fully Jamaican rum is the kicker here as even industrial Clarendon column still rum is better than the vast majority of shite from Central America, chuck in some heavy pot still and it’s game on.

£15, again. No thought needed, it’s an absolute bargain. I’d recommend going out and getting this one if you are a fan of dark rums, it blows away stuff twice it’s price. The only issue is that it’s on the Special Buy so you may find your local Aldi like mine; sold out of this. I guess that’s a fair indication of which one was better!

Flor De Cana 18

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. I’ll not go into the background any more on this as I’ve already reviewed the Flor De Cana 12, but this is essentially a No Age Statement rum. Without covering old ground, this rum is not 18 years old, the producers say that it has an average age of 18 years – it says so on the website but not on the bottle, which gives them the ability to change their mind as and when they want. If you’re going to put a number on a bottle, that looks like an age statement, then put a bloody age statement on the bottle. If you’re not going to give the rum an official age statement then don’t put an a number on the bottle that looks like one.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Ah, not what I was expecting; it’s a bit dirty at first (that’s good by the way), with dry soil, damp leaves, raw walnuts and even some tar and marine fuel of all things. After that it gets more of what I thought it’d be; roasted pecans in toffee sauce, burnt sugar, some toast with honey on, Seville oranges or marmalade, a touch of toffee apple and a lift right at the end of copper pans or a cutlery draw – a sort of tangy metallic note.

Palate: Medium mouth. Oak at first and some of the savoury with olive oil, glue and some mushrooms – this doesn’t last long before we go sweeter with honey, oranges, vanilla, milk chocolate, “Tracker” bars that I found in the 12 too and some butterscotch. There’s some cinnamon butter, a touch of clove and a generic floral notes I can’t quite pin down as it finishes.

Finish: Medium. Sweeter here with caramel, candied orange, lime and lemon peels, vanilla custard and tails off with oak spices of clove, cinnamon and a little hint of ginger heat – maybe chocolate covered stem gingers.

Thoughts? A decent and solid rum, infinitely better than the “12” and I’d certainly put it at “above average”. You can see this is related to the 12, but it’s the better looking, more successful and more popular older sibling (we all know those people!). The savoury side was unexpected, and whilst it is a bit off balance it does give much more complexity to the rum and I think was what I was missing from the 12 – it also carries a lot more amplification of flavour, everything is more concentrated and more intense.

Now, I paid £41 (!!!) for this online, which at the time was only £6 more than the 12 and it’s twice the rum, so make your call on that. Total no brainer when the price is right. At £40-£45ish it’s one I’d buy again, but I’m not too sure that I would at £60 though, it’s not that good.

Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos

What is it? Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos (aged 7 years), is a molasses based rum distilled in a single column still in Cuba, and comes off at around 75% abv – so “Traditional Rum” under the Gargano Classification. The rum is aged for at least 7 years, tropically, in ex-bourbon casks with the additional twist of what Havana Club call “continuous aging”; basically, when casks are ready and selected, some of the aged rum is added back in to casks along with new spirit. They don’t say how they do this but it’s going to be similar to the way a Solera works I imagine, or atleast the principle and intended result is the same. The rum is intended to sit at the top of the standard lineup of Havana Club rums as a basic sipping rum in the light Cuban style.

Please note that this is the European version of this rum. The version that is available in America, as far as I’m aware, is actually from Puerto Rico.

 

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Spirity at first, once that blows off it’s really quite good. A lot more decadent than I expected; chocolate praline, lightly roasted coffee beans, fudge, vanilla and toasted coconut. There’s a lovely smoky cigar leaf to this, but it’s not intense. Some cedar, nutmeg and clove in there too. A definite note of cane juice and some warm hay.

Palate: Spirity again, medium mouth feel. Quite zesty and fruity here at the start with limes, grapefruit and a bit of tangerine. It moves on to vanilla, caramel and then thickens to melted milk chocolate, roasted cashews, pecans, coffee and a roll of smoky cigar on your tongue. A touch of tar or oil at the back of the palate too as it moves to the finish with is surprising and adds a nice savoury touch.

Finish: Medium, just about. Milk chocolate again, Cafe Latte, pralines, coconut, toasted oak and a fruit that I can’t quite put my finger on, like a custard apple or lychee. There is a little slightly tart stone fruit and green apple right at the end.

Thoughts? I’ll point out that this isn’t my preferred style of rum, I’m generally not really into the light Cuban style and I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this, but I’m very pleasantly surprised indeed. Sure, it’s a lighter style and it’s certainly got some of the more sweeter notes than I’d normally choose, but it’s balanced, clean, well made and reasonably complex for what it is. Ok, it’s not the best rum I’ve ever had in my life but I’ve got to judge it for what it is and it’s a really solid rum. It can 100% be drunk neat, it can be mixed, and it’ll reward you well if you take a bit of time with it – especially if you manage to pick it up on sale like I did for £19……yes, £19. Very good value for money, I must say and one I’d pick up again for the right price.

Flor De Cana 12

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. Molasses comes from local sugar and is produced at the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill which is part of the same company as CLN and undergoes a 36 hour fermentation. The is the bottling of the “12”, this does not mean 12 years old; in recent years the packaging has changed and where it used to say “12 anos” on the bottle it now just states “12 slow aged”. They also produce a “7”, “18” and “25” – none of which are the age of the number on the bottle. I really don’t like this misleading labelling that is often used in rum, which allows the consumer to believe they are buying a product of a certain age but in fact that are not, they may was well call their line-up “Flor De Cana 1, 2, 3 and 4” for all the difference it makes.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Quite oaky at first, a good sign – maybe it has actually seen some aging after all! Pecans, walnuts and syrup; think Tracker Bars (nutty snack bar things in the UK). Vanilla, some cinnamon, light brown sugar and Werthers Original sweets. There isn’t much fruit on display here, a little red apple perhaps, that’s been caramelised as if to make a Tart Tatin and a little dried papaya, but other than that it’s really cask smells. With some time I can pick up the faintest floral note, almost of Peonies.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite coating actually. We’re in the same place as the nose really, it’s a bit more buttery, cinnamon certainly, vanilla and Allspice. Hints of warm oak, caramels, burnt sugar and pecans again. No floral notes here but a toffee apple sweetness, which again is the only real fruit. Tanic as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short. Tanic, starting to bitter. Burnt toast with butter and honey on top, some toffee and that’s about it. Hmmm, not the best finish really.

Thoughts? Not bad, but not good either. It’s a very run-of-the-mill rum and all a little pointless. I’m not really sure who this rum is aimed at; your casual drinker will find it too dry and bitter whereas your seasoned rum drinker is unlikely to find it complex or interesting enough and all a bit dull. Maybe it’s aimed at whisky drinkers, who knows. I’ve started going to this bottle when my palate is having an off day, it still tastes ok but I don’t feel guilty about wasting a decent rum when I can’t taste too well.

So, £35……now that seems ok but there are a hell of a lot of better rums out there for that price…. not one I’ll be buying again.

West Indies Rum and Cane Merchants – Central American XO

What is it? Rum produced in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Crafted from molasses and distilled using column stills then aged in ex bourbon casks. A limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide. This was bottled by West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants (a brand of Crucial Drinks). I have no idea where the rum came from, I’ve contacted Cruical Drinks about the distillery information and rum ages but I’ve not had a reply.

My bottle is from Batch number 1 and is bottle number 560.

Not chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No information on this at the moment. The bottle states “natural rum” and I’m not finding any evidence of tampering during tasting, so I don’t think there is any added sugar in here.

Nose: Quite aromatic and almost agricole like with fresh flowers (Lilly of the Valley, Sweet Pea), Lavender, limes and cane juice. There is a little orange rind in there too. Behind the citrus and florals there is a warm oak, actually quite a bit of oak, incense, a little tobacco leaf, spent coffee grounds and menthol. Fairly complex with some lovely mixing of smells.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite spicy at first. Some of those cane’y notes from the nose with the flowers and lime but then quite quickly to richer flavours; dark chocolate, choc-chip brioche buns, some cinnamon, vanilla – gets a bit Bourbon’y; a few cashew nuts here and there, honey, coconut and a little mint.

Finish: Short, not it’s best bit I’m afraid. Spearmint, spices (generic heat), some honey and a little bitter coffee. It just kinda falls off a cliff at the end.

Thoughts? Very pleasant and a great surprise; I was expecting trouble given the countries this is from, and whilst it does get a bit flabby near the end of the palate and finish, overall it was interesting. The nose is the best bit, really quite a bit going on. I think it’s a decent rum and worth the price I paid, which was £34.