What to Drink This Week: Pyrat Rum
Before I talk about this week’s beverage, we need to take a moment to discuss…
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.
It is nearly impossible to dislodge a drink from someone’s
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Dark – …oooooor amber, if we want to be really honest…
- 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
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