Spiced rum (often referred to as just “spice” in the Islands) is one of the more common spirits for introducing (American) people to molasses-based spirits. The well-known brand with the pirate mascot in the red coat is the second largest brand of spirits sold in the United States by volume. That’s a lot of spiced rum and cokes.
In the Caribbean it’s very common for locals and sailors to make their own “spice” by purchasing inexpensive white rum and then infusing it with spices, nuts, fruits, sugar, and any other flavor they may want to mix in to create their own, unique spirit. The spice is then used in punches, cocktails, or even just straight out of the bottle. The myriad of options vary widely – and the commercial offerings can vary almost as much as the homemade stuff.
The Old New Orleans Cajun Spice Rum is made using their typical 500 gallon batch approach. The rum is blended and then various spices, caramel, cayenne pepper, and vanilla are added to the blend and allowed to flavor the spirit. The cayenne pepper and vanilla are added late in the infusion process to prevent the spice from becoming overwhelming. One fact about the recipe for Old New Orleans Cajun that I found fascinating is that the recipe was “perfected” in just one try. The original test recipe has never been modified. Once the infusion process is completed, the rum is bottled at 40% abv and shipped.
Into the glass goes the rum for its swirl and examination. The Cajun Spice is a very pale straw color, with fast-running legs.
I can sum up the nose of this spirit in one word: “Christmas.” There’s a dominating smell of gingerbread present right at the front. It’s warm and inviting and conjures up images of decorating gingerbread men and putting them on the mantel with a glass of milk for Santa Claus. I’m suddenly gripped by the desire to place a large coniferous tree in my living room, wrap myself in a scarf, and burst in to song.
Following the gingerbread smell is the scent of fresh nutmeg, and the nose finishes off with just a hint of apple.
Christmas continues! The entry is full of gingerbread again, followed closely by nutmeg before it gives way to a spicy mid-palate. Flavor from the cayenne pepper finally makes an appearance and lasts through the finish. The spiciness is not overpowering at all, just enough heat to give the rum some kick, and the alcohol burn is minimal. There’s an apple note in the mid-palate that hits about the same time as the cayenne.
For some reason, this light-bodied rum made me think of my mulled apple cider infusion from this past winter. Not that the apple flavor is that strong in the Cajun Spice, but more that this seems like it would be a perfect rum to mix into a hot drink (like, oh, mulled apple cider) on a cold winter day.
It’s not winter right now though, and I had a different cocktail in mind. I decided to make the same drink made for me at Celebration Distillation: Cajun Tea.
1.5 oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spice Rum
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Iced Tea (unsweetened)
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add rum and simple syrup, and then top off the glass with unsweetened tea. Garnish with lemon.
The drink is dangerously refreshing. Obviously the better the tea you use, the better the cocktail will be. I used a brewed Lipton iced tea for this, but I would really like to try this with some sun-brewed tea. After finishing my first tea with little delay, I made myself another, adding about .5 oz of lemon juice to the mix (I generally put a lot of lemon in my tea anyway). This is the kind of drink that can get you in trouble on a hot day because you’ll just keep refilling your glass before you realize that standing up to do so is no longer an option.
The Long & The Short Of It
It is genuinely hard for me to not be effusive in praise about this rum. The idea of Cajun spiced rum was a little scary when I first heard about it. The mix of flavors however is terrific, and the rum manages a great balance between dry and sweet. You can grab a bottle for under $40 at DrinkUpNY.com.
Dood’s Rating: 4 Bottles of Rum Out of 5