Cockspur rums, and their Rum Punch, are made by Hanschell Inniss, Ltd. Hanschell does not make their own rum – they buy it from the West India Rum Refinery who age it for Hanschell in old Kentucky bourbon barrels that have been scraped clean of the charred oak inside. Hanschell blends and bottles the rums and has numerous bottling facilities in several countries, including the USA.
As a note, this is yet another bottle of rum with a plastic cork. Strange that I’d run into so many within a few days, yet I’ve never seen (or noticed) a plastic cork in the past. I’m getting to like them – they’re very unlikely to fall apart, and they fit very tightly yet can be remove somewhat easily. Better than a natural cork, and certainly a lot better than a screw cap!
This rum is medium-gold in color, with somewhat thin but very clingy legs. The smell is a little on the sweet side, with some noticeable vanilla and spice. A small sip shows a very clean, crisp taste – somewhat sweet and some molasses well-balanced with some underlying tastes that are quite faint. The finish is medium-long and spicey, though not (from memory) as spicey as the Mount Gay Eclipse or Plantation Grande Reserve.
As it’s been sitting a bit the smells of vanilla come out more, and some underlying fruitiness makes itself known. This smells like a simple but very nice rum, except that the vanilla tones bring it up quite a bit. A larger sip shows more of the same as above, but this large sip really shows how clean this is. The mouthfeel is very clean, not oily or thick or thin – just clean. This allows one to enjoy the finish without interference, and the finish is a touch spicy but otherwise very pleasant with a hint of barrel. The spice tingling becomes gentle quite quickly, and my mouth is left with the barest touches of rum with a bit of fruit and vanilla.
I left a few drips lingering in the glass as I browsed the web, and the smell of this glass is wonderful. It does not smell like a $17 bottle of rum, but is much richer than I’d expect and the vanilla and fruit now apparent are wonderful.
For the second round I added a couple small drops of water and let it sit for several minutes. The smell is much sweeter, and the vanilla has become more apparent though a bit mellower and not as sharp. There’s a bit more fruit apparent, but it’s a muddled smell and I can’t detect any particular fruits other than feeling that they’re tropical and light. (And that could mean mangoes and the like.)
A sip shows that the rumminess is much more apparent, and this has opened up beyond the simpleness of the initial tastes. There’s a bit more going on now, with more fruit and molasses and some spice apparent in the tastes before the finish. The finish comes quicker and is a little shorter. Overall the water and waiting has certainly done this rum some good.
I’m extremely pleased with this rum. It’s not quite a sipper, though a glass on the rocks would definitely be worthwhile. The spiciness that I’ve been finding lately in these younger golds is not so forceful as some of the others, though it’s certainly still apparent and over somewhat quickly. The flavors are not very complex, but definitely not simple, and are extremely well balanced. This is a very, very nice mixing rum and I definitely recommend it.
Since it comes from Barbados I’m reminded of the Mount Gay Eclipse and I’d definitely choose the Cockspur 5-Star for mixing any day. The Plantation Grande Reserve comes close, but my memory and notes find the Cockspur to be better balanced and without the odd spiciness that was too blatant in the Grande Reserve. Again, my choice would be the Cockspur.
Thinking back to another great mixing gold, the Appleton Special Gold, I find the Cockspur to be a bit stronger and rummier and more refined. The Appleton, though, is close but has its own specialties and is a touch more complex. I think the two are different enough to warrant having both on hand at all times, and I would chose one over the other only when the cocktail calls for a decision. I’d keep the Appleton for the lighter drinks when a milder rum taste is appropriate, whereas the Cockspur would be used for the drinks where a strong presence of rum is more desirable, or when mixing a drink where a lighter rum might get lost.
Overall, I would put the Cockspur 5-Star into the Highly Recommended category, directly above the Appleton Special Gold. It’s a damned fine rum.