For over a few years, Cruzan Single Barrel has been a staple in my liquor cabinet for its quality, consistency and excellent value for money. For around $ 30, it offers a complex and well-balanced flavor of honey, oak, fruit, toffee, and butterscotch. It’s good enough to sip neat, but affordable enough to keep you from feeling guilty for including it in a cocktail.
If you don’t know the distiller based in Sainte-Croix, Cruzan started producing rum from stills eight generations ago and today uses a continuous column distillation process. The name of the company (pronounced kru-shun) comes from the island – the locals are called “Crucians” – which has a rich and varied history.
Holy Cross has been controlled by seven different nations since Christopher Columbus first landed on its magnificent coasts in 1493 (Spain, England, Holland, France, Malta, Denmark and now America). It thrived on the production of sugar, which made it a naturally suitable place for rum production. (Sugar cane is no longer cultivated in Sainte-Croix; today, Cruzan’s activity is supported by imports of molasses.)
Cruzan was the first major rum producer to introduce flavored rums. Today, Cruzan’s portfolio covers a multitude of rum styles, including dark, clear, spicy rums, and even a liquorice cocktail spirit called Black Strap. But the company’s three flagship rums make up its Distiller collection: Estate Diamond Light, the aforementioned Single Barrel and Estate Diamond Dark.
The latter sells for around $ 20 per 750 ml. bottle and is 40% alcohol by volume (proof 80). It is a blend of rums aged five to twelve years aged in oak barrels. Cruzan calls it ideal for “small sips or as a mixer in individual cocktails”, and describes the flavor as “rich notes of oak and vanilla”.
Estate Diamond Dark rum has a light golden color and a lively and sweet nose of honey and tropical fruits. On the palate, I find a lot of banana with hints of orange, wood, cinnamon spice, vanilla, coffee and pecan nuts. The overall high is accessible and bright, although the finish can be surprisingly long with a fair amount of heat and spice.
When it comes to cigar pairings, I would recommend staying away from full bodied aroma bombs and / or dark maduros. Instead, aim for medium-bodied smokes with natural packaging to avoid overpowering the subtle flavors of rum that make it so enjoyable. A cigar like the Señorial Corona Gorda No. 5 does the job perfectly.
One of the reasons I tend to prefer rum and bourbon over scotch is the simple fact that you don’t have to shell out the jackpot to have a great rum or bourbon experience. The Cruzan Estate Diamond Dark Rum is a perfect example. It’s a great way to spend $ 20 and deserves an easy recommendation. Enjoy.
photo credit: Stogie Guys