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Gosling's Black Seal Rum

Gosling's Black Seal Rum


By Robert Plotkin

The former British colony of Bermuda is a slice of paradise 580 miles east of THE North Carolina coast. Because of its strategic location along established trade routes, the small island became a commercial stronghold by the beginning of the 19th century. In 1824, English wine and spirit merchants James and Andrew Gosling opened a shop on Front Street in the new capital of Hamilton. The prestigious company remains the oldest surviving business in Bermuda.

Gosling Brothers imported its first barrels of Caribbean rum into Bermuda in 1860. Numerous different blends were considered before one was deemed ideal. The result was an extremely dark rum that the firm dubbed "Old Rum." For over 50 years it was sold only by draught with local patrons bringing in their own bottles to be filled. At the onset of World War I, the company began marketing the rum in Champagne bottles reclaimed from the British Officer's mess. The corks were secured in place with black sealing wax, prompting people to refer to the brand as "Black Seal."

To this day, award-winning Gosling's Black Seal Rum is made in Bermuda according to the original family recipe from a premium blend of continuous and pot distilled Caribbean rums. The rums are independently matured in American oak barrels used previously to age bourbon. The charred casks contribute to the spirit's color and mellowing as it ages. The master blender then marries the rum together into the classic Black Seal flavor profile. It is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof). The company also produces an over-proof version—Black 151—which is 75.5% abv (151 proof).

It's easy to appreciate why Gosling's Black Seal is the national spirit of Bermuda. It has a dark amber/brown color with alluring red highlights. The intriguing color serves notice of the pleasures to come. The rum has a velvety, medium-weight body and a compact bouquet of coffee, sugar cane, caramel and toasted oak. Gosling's makes its presence known immediately upon entry. Its palate features a medley of caramel, vanilla and spicy flavors that completely fill the mouth before gradually ebbing away in a warm, lingering finish. The rum is exceptionally well balanced with an enjoyable dose of bitterness to balance out its inherent sweetness.

While a pleasure to drink neat, Gosling's Black Seal Rum is as delightful presented in cocktails. It is at the core of such classics as the Dark 'n Stormy and Rum Swizzle. That said, there seems to be no creative limit to what the rum can accomplish when in the hands of a skilled mixologist.

The altogether magnificent Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum is crafted from the same blend of rums used in the Black Seal, but is barrel-aged considerably longer. Extended aging imbues the rum with a luscious character and complexity reminiscent of a well-aged malt or alembic brandy. In keeping with its storied past, the Family Reserve is marketed in a hand-numbered Champagne bottle sealed with black wax.

Little wonder why the Gosling family reserved this rum for themselves. It has a dark mahogany appearance, an oily textured, medium-weight body and a glorious bouquet of brown sugar, toasted oak and baking spices. Its lavish palate offers an assortment of bittersweet flavors ranging from chocolate, molasses and butterscotch to citrus, honey and baked apple pie. The long lasting finish is flavorful and well balanced.

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum is comprised of a complex blend of pot and continuous distilled spirits aged 5 years in oak. The sumptuous amber rum has a generous bouquet of caramel, molasses, apricots and mangos. Its gentle entry quickly expands, filling the mouth with the warm flavors of maple, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice. The rum is highly prized for its tremendous mixability.

Bermuda's national drink—the Dark 'n Stormy—had its origins in a ginger beer factory run as a subsidiary to the Royal Naval Officer's Club. The purveyors soon discovered that an added splash of the Gosling's Black Seal Rum was just what the ginger beer was missing. The name was said to have originated when an old fisherman observed that the drink was the "color of a cloud only a fool or dead man would sail under," which was likely followed by, "Barman, I'll have another Dark 'n Stormy!"

To best uphold the quality of the drink, the firm released Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer. The alcohol-free mixer has a distinctive character derived from a singular blend of spiciness and heat over a citrus background. It contains no preservatives and all of its ingredients are natural.

If your life could stand a little more paradise in it, Gosling's is just the ticket.