Gosling’s Black Seal
Review: Goslings Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum (85/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted October 2009
In the Bottle 4/5
First off I will say that the rum looks a little foreboding. I thought the bottle was darkly colored, but when I tipped the bottle I saw that instead it is the rum which is dark. Inky dark with red tones. Almost wicked looking…..
In the Glass 9/10
I pour a little into my glencairn glass and instantly I am hit with a most unusual and I must admit enticing unpleasant aroma (that does not make sense but then this rum is very different from the norm). I smell burnt caramel apples, intense hyacinth, and wisps of cinnamon and nutmeg. Maybe even a little allspice. At the same time the smell is earthy. It makes no sense to my nostrils to get this earthy smell but it is there in spades. (I hate to admit this; but in my imaginings I actually think of an old graveyard with freshly upturned earth, hyacinth and hibiscus on nearby graves and pungent burnt smells coming from the glass.)
In the Mouth 52/60
My first sip is tentative and the tip of my tongue has gone all tingly and then numb, and then tingly again. The smell in the glass has changed and become more intense with sugary spiciness. Wisps of dark licorice, anise and more cinnamon waft upward. I take another sip, larger this time, and I can taste the burnt caramel. I also taste Jagermeifter! I taste what I imagine is hyacinth, upturned damp earth, baking spices and burnt caramel. Finally I taste an herbal bomb in the back of the palate that I want to describe as Buckley’s cough medicine minus the menthol. The flavour is intense but interesting.
A dash of coke does nothing to the flavour, but eases the bitter backwash in the throat. At fifty percent coke a marvelous change occurs in the glass. The Caramel is tamed and the herbal bombshell is smoothed out to a rhapsody of complex flavours. It tastes sweet and spicy at this point with no particular flavour dominating. I probably could not pinpoint a single flavour in the profile anymore, although when I was younger my mother made a dutch desert called sinsebrie (I have no idea of the spelling). This is kind of like that. A soup of brown sugar, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon and barley all rolled into one. I guess that earthiness has turned to maltiness.
At 75% coke the beast is almost fully tamed. The flavour profile is still deep with burnt caramel, but this is very drinkable for me. I am surprised that the bitterness is for the most part far more gentle than I thought. I find Rums like Mount Gay XO to be far more bitter. I feel that others who comment on the bitterness of this drink have mistaken the deep burnt caramel for bitterness, but in my mind the two are very different.
In the Throat 12/15
A lightly bitter but clean wash is left in my mouth after I swallow.
The finish though does leave a certain dryness in the throat and mouth. The herbal spiciness is felt strongly at the back of the palate long after the glass is consumed.
The Aftermath 8/10
The verdict. I am glad I tried this. Goslings Black Seal may indeed be my dark stormy night drink, but it may also be my bitterly cold afternoon in the dead of winter drink. That dryness, I believe will have a certain appeal on cold afternoons.
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)