Penned and remembered by Garrett Curley
“So what you could do for the booze panel,” UPEISU President Rob Livingstone suggested to me, “is go out and get a couple of 12-year-old Scotches for a taste-off.” I was appalled. Could this man be more out of touch with the UPEI student body?
“Livingstone, you vaccuous twit,” was my curt reply, “students couldn’t care less about Scotch; they can’t afford that shit. There’s no point in us reviewing some uppity Glencrigganmore single malt that costs sixty bucks. All university students care about is some decent cheap booze - whatever’s affordable and tastes the least like turpentine.” And so it was that in the name of science, The Cadre assembled a crack team of local booze enthusiasts and set about reviewing all of the finest spiced rums that the Oak Tree liquor store has to offer.
In a stunning display of leadership, Cadre senior editors myself and Connor Simpson volunteered to sit on the panel. We then enlisted the help of UPEISU VP Activities Jon Millington, as well as culinary school grad Kris Reed. Realizing that not-so-hardened drinkers should also be represented, we recruited Stephanie “I can’t drink without a straw - it hurts my teeth!” Ridgeway. Finally, because we value the wisdom of the elderly, we sought out UPEI alumnus Ryan Merry. And then we hit the bottles hard.
Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum - 7.7/10
“It’s fuckin’ good,” Kris said of the Sailor Jerry’s, and at 47% ABV it has the added advantage of getting you drunk ruthlessly fast. With the exception of Ridgeway, who said that she and Jerry “are not friends,” our judges all agreed that this was a solid rum.
Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum - 7.2/10
Though the Cruzan 9 was my personal favourite of these, the other panellists were more apprehensive. Steph produced an “mmmm!” sound, while Jon described it as “more gingery.” Kris’ comments were exceptionally insightful: “This kind of tastes like Buckleys. Like, an hour after, when you can still taste it. It’s good. I love Buckleys.”
Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum - 8.4/10
“Charred oak barrels - what the hell does that even mean? Look, this is delicious,” offered Ryan Merry after his first taste. Our highest scoring rum of the panel, the Oakheart is less boozy at 35%, but fuller-bodied and smoother than the other rums we reviewed. Highly recommended.
Lamb’s Black Sheep Spiced Rum - 0/10
Jon was “actually looking forward” to trying this rum spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, but he quickly changed his tune. The most universally detested rum of the night, Ryan captured it neatly when he said that this stuff “tastes like a ruined Christmas.” If you hate Fireball whiskey, you will hate this at least as much and probably more. There was agreement around the table that we would rather be waterboarded than ever drink this dreadful, dreadful stuff again.
Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum - 7.1/10
Up until not so long ago, Captain Morgan’s Original was the only spiced rum that Island liquor stores carried, and it’s the one most familiar to Islanders. It’s kind of the classic, really. We agreed that the stuff is “pretty good, but just generic - nothing special.” Again, though, it’s only 35%.
Kracken Black Spiced Rum - 7.5/10
The Kracken divided our judges deeply. While Jon and I absolutely love the stuff, others said it tasted like “paint thinner and seawater.” Black rum is a notoriously heavy drink, especially this one, which weighs in at 47% ABV. If you like black rum, the Kracken is delicious and will get you drunk in a hurry. But it’s really not for everyone. Ryan Merry gave us his two cents: “Since I’m new to the whole drinking thing, everything tastes like fuckin’ paint. So if we were reviewing paint, I guess that would be a 10/10.”
After we called Cadre reporter Lindsay Handren at 2am to come pick our drunk arses up and take us through the Burger King drive-thru, our inaugural Booze Panel was declared an unprecedented success. It is still up for debate what kind of booze we will review next month - bourbon? gin? red wines under $10? - but suggestions can be sent our email address or @thecadre on twitter. In conclusion: Bacardi Oakheart is the best tasting of these rums; Sailor Jerry’s is delicious and strong; the Morgan and Cruzan were quite good; if you don’t like black rum, the Kracken will not change your mind; and we would not wish the atrocity that is Lamb’s Black Sheep on anyone except maybe Brian Mulroney or people from New Brunswick.