Admiral Vernon’s Old J Spiced

Admiral Vernon Old J Spiced Rum review by the fat rum pirateAdmiral Edward Vernon AKA “Old Grog” was responsible for a reduction in the British Royal Navy’s rum ration in 1740.  Many of the sailors were dissatisfied with the dilution of their rum ration and legend has it that Admiral Vernon suggested the men spruce up their “tot” with sugar and limes.

Now that in itself makes a pretty good story for Old J Spiced, however there is a far more modern and more interesting story lurking beneath this particular spirit.  I call it spirit because as this “rum” is bottled at 35% ABV (70 proof) it cannot be legally called “rum” in the UK.  Any rum must be 37.5% ABV or above to be legally sold as rum.

Anyway I digress and back to the modern history of Old J.  In the late noughties a craze for Sailor Jerry and coke hit the UK.  Scary Jerries as one of my friends used to call them, due to the drunken states they would put him in!  For a while Spiced Rum and in particularly Sailor Jerry was very trendy.  Since this craze Morgan’s Spiced and The Kraken have taken over where Sailor Jerry once ruled.  The UK still has an appetite for Spiced Rum but its not quite as high as it once was.

One of the reasons for this was the controversial adoption of the US recipe of Sailor Jerry in the UK.  You see the vanilla and sugar heavy Sailor Jerry us Brits so enjoyed was very different from the more rounded spicing in the US Sailor Jerry.  As much as it pains me to say it the US Sailor Jerry was and still is in my book better than the UK effort.  By a distance.

However, popular opinion was that the original recipe Sailor Jerry needed to be broughtAdmiral Vernon Old J Spiced Rum review by the fat rum pirate back.  There is a big reason why the “Old” and “J” are so pronounced on the bottle and the Admiral Vernon are virtually non existent………This is the rum as the bottom of the front label states “The Original Taste” “You asked for it”.  Clearly they couldn’t do a blatant rip off but they have went close to the wind in terms of naming and the presentation.  Fair play to them.

Old J Spiced Rum retails at around £18-20 per 70cl bottle in the UK and is bottled at 35% ABV.  As you can see the presentation is pretty standard and the bottle cap has a nice little touch with regard the red Old J being stamped on it along with “Loves live music”.

Unscrewing the cap of the Old J is quite an experience.  Even before you pour the “rum” you are confronted with a very sweet smell of vanilla and sugar.  It is very strong and the nose is predominantly vanilla with maybe a little cinnamon.  It smells very strongly as soon as the bottle is opened.

In the glass Old J presents itself as a medium golden colour.  The nose in the glass is still very sweet.  Still a lot of vanilla and a little cinnamon.  Still a heck of a lot of sugar. The spiced element of the Old J is introduced as Persian Lime and Smooth Vanilla.  I can only guess that the limes haven’t arrived from Persia yet…..if so I doubt they ever will as it no longer really exists!

I’ve no idea what actual rum is used in this drink.  The only statement on the label is Caribbean.  With such heavy handed spicing it is difficult to determine.  From the amount of sugar which has been used in this drink I can only guess it hasn’t been aged for too long.  The surprising thing is that you can actually drink this rum neat.  However I will make a comparison with another great British drink – tea.  You can have a cup of tea with milk and no sugar, you can have a cuppa with maybe milk and a sugar or two.  But you wouldn’t have half a cup of sugar and half a cup of tea.  Which really is what Old J tastes like.

You can sip it without doubt.  It doesn’t burn and it doesn’t offend too much.  However, its “smoothness” is produced only by the amount of added sugar.  It is bordering Baileys territory in terms of sweetness if not viscosity.  As a sipper it offers wathes of sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon or vanilla.

When mixing you still cannot escape this oversweet sugarbomb of a drink.  It is liqueur like and I just find it far too sweet and cloying.  There are much better spiced rums such as Sailor Jerry (US recipe!), Pussers and the classic Foursquare.

At the end of the day with an internsive promotional tour ongoing in the UK and a large presence on social media, Sailor Je….sorry Old J will find itself stocked in bars up and down the country and it will do very well for itself.  Regardless of my score!

1 stars




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