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Tasty, but not quite great
Coruba has a longstanding history with Tiki. After Trader Vic used up the world’s supply of the 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew, he reformulated his Mai Tai recipe with the 15-year-old J. Wray & Nephew and Coruba.
That said, Coruba is one of the best (after Kohala Bay) dark Jamaican mixing rums - that is, in terms of the money and for what you get in terms of a quality, funky, and versatile product who's history goes all the way back to our Tiki forefathers. Coruba is not a rum to be sipped and contemplated; it is solely a mixer where a heavily-bodied and slightly funky dark Jamaican rum is called for.
As a testament to many Tiki historians, rum connoisseurs, bar owners, and mixologists, many will tell you that Coruba is the preemptive dark Jamaican mixing rum. Other popular choices are Myers's dark, and Appleton Estate, although the latter two are considerably more expensive.
NOTE: Coruba is colored for extra depth and sweetness and is heavily charred in small American oak barrels for at least two years before high quality molasses is added to it. In New Zealand, Coruba dark is marketed as 'Coruba Original Blend,' with the proof slightly lower at an odd 37.2%. Coruba is distilled and imported from Jamaica by J. Wray & Nephew, but is not distributed commercially in Jamaica.
It was time to head to a well stocked rum bar with a list of rums that I wanted to sample before buying. I will start with the worst of five trials, which is this one. I knew in advance that this should not be sipped neat and is only used as a Tiki mixer mainly in New Zealand. My initial response was , "Yuck!" and I could not even finish my half ounce pour. Stick with Meyer's Dark to serve the purpose of this bitter mixer.
Made for a great rum and coke, bob Marley and other mixed drinks at the all inclusive resort in Jamaica. Good flavor but didn’t drink neat so now sure how that would go.
A no-doubt interesting take on Jamaican rum. The hogo is very much muted in exchange for a toasty, full bodied character (though I would argue that the distillate is probably mild to begin with). Very dark in color, though not overly thick or cloying on the palate in any way. Definite oak influence, which is rather nice, bringing some spice and caramel character to the spirit. There isn't exceptional depth, so I would primarily use this as a mixer in tiki drinks, or with cola.
I've always found Gosling's to be an uninteresting choice in tiki drinks that call for a dark rum; while it starts of nicely on its own or in a Dark and Stormy, it doesn't provide any character to other mixed drinks I've tried it in.
I picked up a bottle of Coruba after seeing it used by several tiki bars and did a side-by-side comparison with the Gosling's. Compared to the Gosling's the Coruba has a brighter nose with considerably more funkiness. While it still has a light sweetness to it similar to the Gosling's (maybe due to the addition of molasses), its overall character is closer to something like an Appleton rum. You get a much longer aftertaste, which holds up well in multi-rum tiki drinks.
Since I can't get my hands on the venerable Kohala bay I'll be using this as my go-to dark rum for mixed drinks for the time being.
More funk and easier on the budget than Appleton 12 Year. This is an absolutely essential bottle in your home tiki bar. Make no mistake, this is not a sipper. I save my Appleton 12 year for that task. Not quite as funky as Doctor Bird, but blends with citrus beautifully to make a well balanced tiki drink.
Seems to fill the roll for a jamacian dark that otherwise would be served by meyers (just not nearly as easy to find). Not overly sweet for a dark jamacian with very little funk / inspiration. It seems to serve its role in a cocktail but not much more. .
This rum is dark, smooth, and caramelly sweet with just enough funk. Highly drinkable, it's no wonder this is widely regarded as the best "dark/Jamaican" mixing rum. If you mix tropical drinks, don't pass this bottle up if you're fortunate enough to spot it!
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