What to Drink This Week: Pyrat Rum

Before I talk about this week’s beverage, we need to take a moment to discuss…

THE PANTHEON.

BOOM!

Everyone has one:  that collection of the truly sacred drinks, the ones that transcend being your favorite and actually stray into a near-religious devotion.  They’re the bottles you have at easy disposal for yourself and that disappear into the back of your linen closet when company comes over; they’re the brands to whom you’ve attached such a personal attachment that if they appear on the menu of a restaurant, however previously awful your experience there, it immediately gains +2 stars in your own private Yelp.

These are the liquors that even the laziest co-worker can give you at Christmas, and you will never resent them.

These are the hooches that, regardless of how many times your friends have heard you go on about it, you will try to sell to anyone new that you meet at a party.

They are the drinks that turn you into that guy, or oh no not her, and you love them so much that you don’t even care.

They are

THE PANTHEON.

BOOYAH!

It is nearly impossible to dislodge a drink from someone’s

PANTHEON,

AWWW HELL YEAH

much in the same way that it is difficult to separate a fan from their favorite team, a nerd from clever tee shirts, or a hipster from irony:  it has become more than a preference, and ascended into a reflection of identity.  It is why friends will argue over football pools, why some people will never get normal office jobs, and why everyone sort of just hates hipsters — there’s more at stake than just a thing.  It really is personal.

To sum up, this is why old men fight about Scotch.

Right now, my

PANTHEON

OHHHH GOD DAAAAAAMN

includes the following:  Stolichnaya vodka, Oban whisky, Plymouth gin, El Jimador tequila, Get 31 creme de menth (DON’T YOU JUDGE), Jack Daniels Honey Liqueur, and the Kraken rum.  I’ve written about one or all of these at some point on the site, and recommended them more than once to friends, co-workers, partygoers, people I’ve bumped into at the liquor store, people I’ve bumped into at the grocery store, strangers on the train and even my own family.

But as committed as I’ve been to my missionary work, recently I encountered someone who made my advocacy seem downright amateurish.  “I heard you like rum,” began an exchange with him one day, and regardless of the topic of any interaction we’ve had since, every conversation, email, text message and dream inception has included an exhortation to try this:

Pyrat Rum describes itself as an Enlightened Ultra-Premium Dark Rum, complete with the kind of ornate, Flash-based website that I generally love to bits.  The brand takes a sort-of strange quasi-Tibetan-by-way-of-the-Caribbean approach to the product, and applies it vigorously to the packaging.  The dark-honey color of the rum is displayed beautifully through a squat bottle with faintly bubbled glass, firmly corked and adorned with a little icon of its patron saint, Hoti.

The story is a fun one, especially the vaguely authentic-looking piratey bottles with the giant cork sticking out of the top.  It took me a minute to realize how similar it looked to a bottle of Patron — and wouldn’t you know!  It just happens to be part of the Patron family, described as a “blend of select premium rums” aged in both French and American oak barrels.

So, now that we realize that Pyrat is part of an empire that can afford to sponsor its own NASCAR, it’s probably best to break down its self-branding:

  1. Enlightened – By which it means both that it is clever and that it is dark rum, but not that dark, so it is in fact (wait for it) en-lightened?  See, CLEVER.
  2. Ultra-Premium – Do you see the packaging?  Did you GET your little bronze bhudda dude?  Have you not yet WORN the ribbon, or observed that it costs fifty bucks for 750mL?  This is not merely premium!  It is far beyond that.
  3. Dark – …oooooor amber, if we want to be really honest…
  4. Rum – Guyanese rum, to be specific, and a blended one at that.  So you’re really looking at Spiced rum, which as we remember from long ago, is perhaps a risky proposition.

And with that in mind, how does Pyrat stack up, once you get past the stylin’ and profilin’ cork?

How to put this?

I didn’t love it.  I wanted to, because this is a seriously nifty-looking product, and one that is very much trying to get me into bed.  The brand is fantastic, the style it projects is every bit as cool as a tequila-branded stock car, and honestly I felt kind of wicked pouring out of this bottle.

Then we get to the rum itself, and it’s just… okay?  I wanted it to be as good as it looked, but in almost every measure it just came up as reasonable:  Smelling either the cork or the bottle gives you a strong shot of caramel and cinnamon, and the same is true when you sip it; the finish is definitely smoother than absolutely any white rum (read: terpentine) you’ll find out there, and Pyrat is absolutely the kind of rum you could (and should) enjoy on its own.  It has a warming, spicy property that is well-suited to this time of year, particularly at the end of the kind of day that deserves pirate-y looking alcohol.  It may sound strange to say, but Pyrat goes best with cool, fresh air — Coke is a distant second.

Pyrat is a good rum, I should be clear that I don’t imply anything different.  It’s just not a fantastic rum that’s going to change your life, unless you’ve never actually enjoyed rum that didn’t require something else to dilute it at a measure of 10 to 1.  The problem is that a competent liquor who purports to be an ultra-premium, and makes the effort to charge accordingly, really needs to knock me for a loop — and Pyrat doesn’t really come anywhere close.  The flavor is spicy but one-note, and seems to get cumulatively harsher over time rather than balancing out; the result is that it doesn’t take you long to realize that Pyrat trades fairly heavily on its charm, rather than any kind of enlightened approach to dark rum.

So, alas for you, Pyrat, you do not displace Kraken as the preferred rum in my

PANTHEON,

BOOOOOOSH!

try though you might.  You are too expensive, and yet too unimpressive, to shake me loose from my faith.

Rating: 3 Greek Gods out of 5

  • erica

    Seriously? Stoli is your Pantheon vodka? Even with Tito’s and Zyr existing in the universe? Do you prefer pain with your clear liquors?

  • Jada Roche

    Was thinking of trying this but will stick with my Flor de Cana. 😀

  • http://jerseygirlsports.com/reggie-bush-confirms-return-of-his-heisman-trophy/ Lindsey Fitzgerald

    The brand is owned by Patron Spirits and gets its name from the Old English word for ‘pirate.’ The stout bottle of the XO Reserve is also a tribute to this heritage. The rums are a blend of select pot still rums sourced throughout the Caribbean, many of which are around 15 years old, and some are created in a miraculously long-living wood still that has been running rum for 300 years. Once blended, the rum is matured further in French Limousin and toasted American oak barrels. This seems like an excessive amount of aging given the Caribbean climate which speeds aging, but that is likely the reason behind the extreme taste found in Pyrat.

  • Rob

    I respect your opinion and impression of the rum. However I must disagree. The XO reserve is, firmly, in my pantheon. I try new rums as often as I can and nothing has come close to the enjoyment I get from the XO reserve. I’ve even tried the Pyrate cask (~$300 for 750 ml) which is damn good but not worth the extra $$$. I have never seen Pyrate for more than $35 a bottle though. Where ever you’re buying it is jacking up the price. For those willing to try it be aware, the pistol bottles are NOT the same rum as the XO. It is a lower grade. The XO reserve is a mildly fruity sweet flavor instead of rums normally sickly sugary sweet flavor. A hint of orange which comes from the used orange liquor barrels it is aged in as well as what the tag calls a toasted apricot flavor. I know this post is a year old but I need to be “that guy” to make sure if someone stumbles upon your page that they know that other’s impressions of the rum are that it is so much more than “just… okay.” My opinion, which no one asked for, is this rum is fantastic and I pray to the 3 dozen Hoti I have hanging on my cabinet that they never stop making it.

  • Bob

    I think your palate belongs at the NASCAR track.