Tag Archives: aged rum

Walk the Line: Cockspur

cockspur rum

Cockspur is a rum you’ll see quite a bit of throughout the world (they have pretty wide distribution), but I hadn’t really run across it here in the U.S. until I started doing some homework for a recent rum+cigar pairing event I hosted.

Dating back to 1884 in Barbados, Cockspur has a pretty varied catalog of rums that will cover you for about any type of rum you may need, and because of this, I think they’ve earned a deserved place in our Walk the Line series.

Here’s a brief summary of each, pictured from left to right above:

Cockspur Overproof. So there’s really only 2 uses for overproof rum, which in this case clocks in at 65% ABV. Some tiki recipes use it as an ingredient, but mostly it’s the think you put in a volcano glass to light on fire in the middle. At $20 a bottle, Cockspur overproof is overwhelmingly butterscotch on both the nose and palate, but it’s not really meant to drink by itself.

Cockspur Fine. Let’s call this “regular” Cockspur. Aged a little bit, this rum has a cinnamon-and-sugar candy taste that has very little alcohol burn. It is a great fit for cocktails and is even good enough at $15-20 to sip on.

Cockspur Spiced. Spiced rums are my favorite choice for rum-and-Cokes, and Cockspur is one I haven’t tried before. The spice you’ll find here is really a Christmasy clove experience in the scent, but it’s surprisingly watery and sweet in the finish. In the $15 range, try this one if you love cloves.

Cockspur Old Gold. Now we’re getting into the truly aged Cockspurs. At 5 years old, this is a spicier rum than Fine, with some nutty banana flavors meeting the woody spice of the barrel. Definitely a sipping rum at $20-25 a bottle, this is a definite middle ground between the sweet Fine and the woody VSOR 12.

Cockspur VSOR 12. “Very Special Old Reserve” is a blend of rums up to 12 years old, and is spicier still than Old Gold. Almost apple-like in both flavor and nose, Cockspur VSOR 12 was the runaway favorite at our cigar pairing event and it’s only $30 a bottle. A great cigar pairer and a fun choice for a whiskey drinker who’s looking to experiment with aged rums, too.


Real McCoy Rum

real mccoy rum

I’ve started to realize that aged rum may just be my favorite drink to pair with a quality cigar. A quality aged rum delivers a flavorful sweetness that complements the warm spiciness that cigars bring to the palate.

Real McCoy Rum is currently only available in Connecticut (where it’s distilled), Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This is a sipping rum, just like a quality bourbon or whisky, and while you could mix it in a cocktail, it’s probably best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

In a matter of perfect timing, Real McCoy arrived a few days before a big local cigar event (see my photos here), so I took it there to get some opinions from people. Smooth was first word everyone said after sipping Real McCoy, and everyone seemed really fond of it, including a self-proclaimed Puerto Rican rum lover. It’s got a good flavor with basically no alcohol burn and a mild spiciness from the barrel aging. Ice is an optional addition, but because of the low alcohol (40% ABV), I ended up preferring to drink it neat.

If you’re near the 3 states that carry Real McCoy 5 Year Old at this point, it’s definitely a good buy at $29. You may also find 3-year-old and 12-year-old varieties as well.

Thomas Tew Rum

thomas tew rum xyz cocktail

Thomas Tew Rum is distilled and aged in Rhode Island from blackstrap molasses. Named for the infamous Rhode Island Pirate, this rum is created in small batches and is tough to find outside of Rhode Island itself.

Thomas Tew Rum has the scent of molasses and maple syrup, but has a very dry finish. While Tew is a good sipping rum because of that clean sweet/dry combo, I found it is a particularly good rum for making mixed drinks. Here’s one of my favorite cocktails with dark rum: rich, sour, and sweet all at the same time:


  • 1 oz dark rum (I used Thomas Tew)
  • 1 oz triple sec (I used Giffard Premium)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • lemon wedge garnish

Zacapa 23 Rum

zacapa 23 rum

A while back, I asked the Cigar Smoking Man what he likes to drink when he’s smoking a cigar, and he mentioned Zacapa.

Zacapa 23 is from Guatemala, a blend of rums that have aged in barrels from 6 to 23 years at 7,500+ feet above sea level. This rum is comparable to a fine bourbon or scotch, and Zacapa recommends drinking it straight or with a large ice cube to cool it slightly.

The scent of this rum is sweet initially, but as you drink, you’ll taste barrel-aged richness and spice. Because rum is distilled from sugar cane, it can be a lot sweeter than a whiskey or brandy, but Zacapa is not so sweet. I found it to be strong and smooth, with faint traces of sugar, spicy chocolate, and toasty wood. I drank it neat – no ice – and found it to have a great and palatable flavor. Zacapa 23 is a quality aged rum that’ll run you about $45. Older brother Zacapa XO, a richer and more elegant variety, is $99.