I’m not one for flavored rums – I’d much rather have a home-made infusion made with fresh fruits. But I happened to notice that Dave Broom, in his book Rum, gave Cruzan Coconut Rum 4 stars. 4 stars. For a pre-made, flavored rum. I figured that it had to be pretty good, and resolved myself to give it a try since I like coconut anyway. One day I saw a bottle in a liquor store and I grabbed it. And then I thought about comparisons, so I grabbed a nip each of Malibu Coconut and Parrot Bay Coconut. What the heck.
As expected, nothing secret is easily divulged about these three flavored rums. Malibu is a 42-proof spirit made using Barbados rums, but is labeled “Caribbean Rum with natural coconut flavor.” Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay – also 42 proof – is a Puerto Rican rum also “with natural coconut flavor.” The Cruzan Coconut – at an eye-popping 55 proof – is from St. Croix and has – surprise – “natural coconut flavors.” Cruzan also shows a registered slogan: “The taste is real.” I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.
I’m curious about how much natural coconut flavors these rums have, and how much of the coconut taste comes from a chemical lab. I guess they have to go that way since the natural flavors probably won’t last a year on the shelf. I’ve heard rumors that 267 had a difficult time with their infused spirits. I do want to try their Pineapple Rum Infusion some time, but all I can find is their Mango Rum and I’m not a real fan of mangoes.
Malibu Coconut Rum
First up, in no particular order, is the Malibu. This smells mostly of alcohol, with some sweetness and some rather fake-smelling coconut lingering in the background. I’m actually surprised at how weak the coconut smell is – I hope the others aren’t like this. The taste is actually mostly non-existent but with a lot of coconut smell, but the rum has some sweetness and barely any hint of alcohol. No burn whatsoever – it’s quite smooth. The coconut, however, is slightly reminiscent of the beach – and I mean a New England beach with hundreds of folks slathering sun protection on their pearly-white skin. This tastes more fake than anything, though it’s not horrible. Its smoothness and sweetness make this a rum that’s easily drinkable, and I can see why they have sold so much over the years.
Parrot Bay Coconut
Next up is Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay. I can’t detect an alcohol smell with this one, but I can’t really detect any coconut either. Instead, there’s something fruity – so much that I grabbed the bottle to make sure that I had the Coconut version, which I do. Another few smells finally find the coconut smell, but it’s faint – like sniffing a roll of Pina Colada Lifesavers before you open them. The taste definitely contains more coconut, but like the Malibu much of the coconut hits the nose and not so much the taste buds. There’s less fakeness here, though there’s a tiny bit of a burn. Well, the burn is noticeable whereas the Malibu went down like water. The Parrot Bay is better than the Malibu, but it’s not quite awe-inspiring.
Cruzan Coconut Rum
Last up is the Cruzan. Actually I think I subconsciously planned to try the Cruzan last. Yeah, I probably did. Anyway, a sniff of this one detects only coconut – no alcohol and no fruits – but it is very faint. The Cruzan actually has the least coconut smell of the bunch, even with my nose buried halfway into the shot glass. At least I can’t detect any fake chemical smells like the Malibu. As for taste, the Cruzan easily has the most burn. The taste is on par with the Parrot Bay, though the extra bit of a burn from the Cruzan drops it a point.
Malibu Zero, The Others…
Well, it’s easy for me to say that the Malibu is the loser here, but the Parrot Bay and the Cruzan are too close to call. Obviously it’s time to kick back for a few minutes, let the mouth relax, and try these two again. I’ll be back in a few minutes…
First up this time will be the Cruzan Coconut – two healthy measures swished and swallowed. And the result is… Nicely sweet with a good amount of realistic coconut. There’s still the burn, though, which is slight but should probably be non-existent in a 55-proof spirit. Overall it’s OK, but nothing to write home about.
Next is – of course – the Parrot Bay, using the same methods of imbibing. And the result is… Somewhat boring. It’s slightly sweeter than the Cruzan, with a thicker mouthfeel and the coconut is not as good since it has a tinge of chemical plant around it. There is absolutely no burn though, so this is the coconut rum of choice for girly-man shooters.
And The Winner Is…
Well, I’m certainly not much of a winner in this showdown since it points out that I wasted $12 on a fifth and two nips. But between the Coconut Rums the winner has to be the Cruzan for it’s slightly better coconut flavor and higher alcohol content. But it didn’t win by much – the Parrot Bay was smoother than simple syrup and had a decent coconut flavor. The clear loser is the Malibu – which makes it a winner of sorts since it has achieved the lowest point on my Rum Rankings list. Yes, it’s worse than Bacardi White.