Spiced Jack No. 94
Rum Review: Spiced Jack No. 94 Spiced Rum 69/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 3, 2011
Legend has it (according to the Spiced Jack Website), that in 1956 a certain roguish pilot, Lieutenant Jack Butler, who was stationed in Bermuda in 1956 developed a secret recipe for spiced rum. Of course after developing this “Top Secret” recipe he and his plane disappeared without a trace. Mysteriously, all of his rum disappeared too. Fortune would have it that he had sent his secret recipe to his brother shortly before he disappeared and now White Rock Distillers are able to bring this formulation forward as Spiced Jack No. 94 Spiced Rum.
The ’94′ is a reference to the bottle strength of this rum which is 94 proof. This is a higher than normal bottling strength for a spiced rum which should impart a little ‘kick’ to the tonsils when it is sipped. In spite of this implied kick to the tonsils, the Spiced Jack Website assures us that the rum will be smooth. In fact, not just smooth, it will be “courageously smooth”.
A friend of mine gave me this bottle in trade on New Years Eve. I had taken a few sips (after I had already sipped a lot of other rums and whiskies that night), and decided a new rum to add to my collection would be a good thing. I never had a chance to try the bottle again until a few days ago when I decided to put it through the paces of my review system. Here is what I discovered about that New Year’s Eve swap.
I’m not really very good at taking pictures so you will have to forgive the shadows and the bit of glare coming of the bottle. It is a tall wide shouldered bottle which I quite like the look of. I do not like the metal screw cap; but, I did notice that this cap has more threads on it than many I have seen in the past so the issues with the seal should not be terribly significant. I am also not a huge fan of the logo on the label. Imagery associated with death and the macabre have never impressed me. The company appears to be making a connection to the dead pilot, Lieutenant Jack Butler, but the whole thing falls flat and in my opinion lacks a little class. It also seems a little copied to me. A certain wrestler’s logo comes to mind.
The back label on the other hand does give us the story of Jack Butler which gives the rum a little ambiance and us rum drinkers something to talk about. I like little touches like that.
What is also on the back of the bottle is a clear plastic label which had to be added by the importers of the spiced rum to comply with Canadian Labeling requirements. This label lists the ingredients for the rum and these ingredients read as follows:
Water, Rum, High Fructose Corn Sweetener, Natural & Artificial Flavours, Caramel, and Spices.
It is a little disappointing to see that the rum contains added sweeteners and artificial flavours but I guess I should have read that particular label before I made my trade.
In the Glass 7/10
In the glass the rum is a nice coppery brown colour, and a quick tilt of my glass shows nice slender legs running down the sides. Since I know from the list of ingredients that caramel has been added and high fructose corn sweetener, I cannot draw any conclusions of quality from these observations. Caramel is providing the colour, and the sweetener is providing the legs.
The nose does however give me an indication of what I will taste later. There is a certain sharpness in the aroma which gives the spiced rum a harshness which is not pleasant. I smell a lot of vanilla in the breezes and a lot of sweetness. There seems to be some hotter spices in the air but the higher alcohol content and the harsh medicinal smells are perhaps masking their identity. The overall impression I have is of a chemically enhanced spirit rather than of a spice enhanced rum.
In the Mouth 41/60
The entry into my mouth is rough and perhaps a little acrid. Rather than the Spiced Jack Rum being courageously smooth, I feel it is I who must be courageous to go further. The taste is frankly disappointing. There is lots of vanilla, a good dose of caramel and hints of something reminiscent of cloves and cinnamon. But I feel the semblances of flavours are perhaps merely mirages upon my palate.
The most disappointing aspect is the chemically induced bite which causes me to stop sampling after the second sip. This is no sipping rum and I am going to quit pretending that it is. When I mix the spiced rum with cola I have something I can drink, but not something I would serve to my guests… unless I did not want them to return.
In the Throat 10/15
The finish is medicinal, and harsh. Even with cola, it is not worth repeating a second time.
The Afterburn 7/10
I can attest that after you have had a few drinks on New Year’s Eve and your judgment has been slightly impaired, then you may find merit with this spiced rum. You may even wish to toast the coming New Year with Spiced Jack and Cola. But if you are approaching this bottle with a sober and fresh mind, then it does not have much to offer. There is a silver lining, the Spiced Jack No. 94 does serve as a good reminder to myself that I should never agree to swap bottles with someone on New Year’s Eve (at least not after I have had a few glasses of rum and whisky)!