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Rum Review: Vanilla - Brinley's Gold vs Whaler's vs Cruzan

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Which vanilla rum do you prefer?
Brinley's Gold Vanilla Rum
 100%  [ 2 ]
Whaler's Vanille
 0%  [ 0 ]
Cruzan Vanilla Rum
 0%  [ 0 ]
Ronrico Vanilla
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 2

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:01 pm    Post subject: Rum Review: Vanilla - Brinley's Gold vs Whaler's vs Cruzan Reply with quote

Brinley Gold Vanilla Rum vs Whaler's Vanille vs Cruzan Vanilla: "Uh, Vanilla"

A nice backstory on this smackdown. When I first entered the wacky world of rum my first purchases were: Mount Gay Extra Old, Zacapa 23 and Brinley's Gold Coffee Rum. A reference standard, a modern trend winner and a coffee rum (simply because I love coffee). It was not long before I purchased a bottle of Whaler's Vanille.

I purchased the Whaler's Vanille on the basis of Luis Ayala's Rum Experience comparison of Whaler's, Cruzan Vanilla, Brinley's Gold Vanilla and Ronrico Vanilla. According to Ayala (who is a vanilla freak) Whaler's had the best aroma (Brinley's 2nd), the best taste (Ronrico 2nd), and most balanced sweetness. Cruzan was ajudged the smoothest. Color was left to individual preference. Overall winner: Whaler's Vanille.

We disagree.

It it now many months later and frankly I'd almost forgotten about the Whaler's when I happened upon the Brinley's Gold Vanilla on sale for just $13.95 (normally around $20) and I grabbed it. This smackdown ensued. Due to the relative simplicity of these products I'm combining Sue Sea's and my opinions into a single review.

So what did we look for in a vanilla rum?

Easy. Authenticity and experiencing the vanilla as the leading component. With this in mind, the review:



All of the Brinley's products come in tall, round, rich and elegant, clouded glass bottles with a nice classic gold and white label. The Whaler's series comes in a modern short squat bottle fully encased with a very colorful plastic label featuring a sailing ship, waterfalls and Hawaiin orchids. Cute and kitchy.


Brinley's is a deep mahogany, like vanilla extract. Whaler's is an orangey amber. Cruzan is a clear white.


Brinley's is a deep, rich and features authentic vanilla and a touch of coffee, reed/cane and oak. Not overpowering, just right, the vanilla is just another component. Whaler's aroma is mixed: a pungent almond, vanilla, butterscotch and apricot in a balance. The vanilla is neither authentic nor dominant, and is simply another component. Its aroma struck us as artificial and a bit much. Cruzan Vanilla was perhaps the worst: completely artificial (but a nice artificial if you can fathom that) - vanilla and banana, some coconut. the artificial vanilla is dominant and overpowering.


Brinley's taste is completely consistent: smooth, rich, sweetly syrupy with again, authentic vanilla omnipresent, but again beautifully blended in and not dominant. Whaler's also is consistent with the butterscotch coming to the foreground. Yes, vanilla is there, but in the background and not authentic. Whaler's is not as smooth. Cruzan's is also consistent and artificial, with a sticky artificial vanilla cream, marshmellow.

Finish and Aftertaste:

Brinley's finish and aftertaste is just like its perfect aroma and taste - a deep smooth sweet and rich vanilla with just a touch of warmth. Very pleasant and invites you to sip more. It has a bit of a kick and just a touch of pepper.

Whaler's finish is a cloying artificial butterscotch. The other components are there but way in the background. The almond component leaves a very slight bitterness in the aftertaste. A second taste is not encouraged.

Cruzan Vanilla finishes just as it starts - very sweet, syrupy, with its dominant artificial vanilla. There is no heat.

It should be obvious we much preferred the Brinley's Gold Vanilla Rum. The vanilla is authentic and remains the leading component as it should. This rum is balanced and rich. The aroma is perfect and not overpoweringly pungent. It is a superb dessert rum and we both could see this one poured over some real vanilla ice cream.

In comparison if you told us the Whaler's was a "butterscotch rum" we'd have believed you. The vanilla was inauthentic and hidden. Butterscotch was the dominant impression throught. This rum struck us as artificial and we'd not buy it again.

Cruzan's Vanilla actually would score in between these two. Although the vanilla, banana and coconut seemed artificial, it is well done. It is pleasant and would do nicely with some cream and ice.

OTOH, Brinley's Gold Vanilla, like their Gold Coffee Rum, is worth every centivo even at its full price of $19.95. When we want a flavored rum we give authenticity our preference every time. A good flavored rum should be simply that - a rum - with the desired, authentic flavor present but not dominant, rather blended in such a way that it is perceived but not overpowering. Brinley's does that. At $13.95 it's a must buy, best buy. Either or both of these Brinley's belong on your shelf. If we could choose only one it would be...

Brinley's Coffee. No contest.

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