Gosling’s: Black Seal Rum
Tasting Conditions: Before I continue, I should point out that I love Gosling’s. As someone who spent a large part of my childhood in Bermuda, I view Gosling’s as one of those things that’s in my blood, like sherry peppers and rum cakes. In fact, I was probably eating Gosslings from birth in the form of rum cakes, rum peppers, and other similar delights. This, obviously, will color my review. Anyway, I felt that a nice dram of one of my favorite spirits was an obligatory birthday ritual. I used a brandy snifter of approximately eight ounces for my taste.
Eye: Gosling’s, is, well, it’s Gosling’s. In the bottle it’s black as a pirate’s heart, while spread out in the glass, it’s gold like a pirate’s treasure. (Like that diametabole there? I did too!) It develops thick, stubby legs, quite slowly. The bottle is a classic wine-style spirits bottle, as opposed to a bubble-necked bottle, with the Gosling’s logo black seal balancing a barrel of rum on its nose. I should note that the origin of the name is in a black seal as in black sealing wax which closed the bottles a century ago, not as in the animal.
Nose: A very potent rummy smell reaches the nose, adulterated with a bit of toffee and caramel. The smell is a bit rough, suggesting that this might perhaps be more of a mixer than a sipper.
Mouth: On first sip, this one kicks like a mule, and you can tell that this, this is rum. This is no delicate brandy or haughty fashionable tequila. This is a rum, and while it is far from the kill-devil that they drank in the days of Captain Kidd, it’s still quite a potent potable. While I think the closest thing it comes to is toffee, as the nose suggests, for someone who is not used to drinking spirits neat and especially mixing spirits at all, it’s an experience. Adding a bit of water makes this a bit less rough, and brings out what might be banana notes, or perhaps even mango.
Conclusion: The black seal will always have a place in my heart, and with a cube or two of ice, is surprisingly drinkable straight given its price point (though at least one of my local liquor stores counts it a top shelf rum…at under $18 a bottle with tax oh joy of joys). That said, I think taken neat it is a bit rough for my tender young palate, and while a bit of water smoothes it out a bit, I still prefer it on the rocks. That said, it’s an excellent mixing rum, especially with a bit of Barrett’s ginger beer.