If you know the name Goslings it is likely for one of two reasons. It could be for their iconic Black Seal rum—the rich, dark rum bursting with sweet and herbaceous flavors—which is legally required (thanks to a decades-old Goslings trademark) to make a Dark ‘N’ Stormy. If not that, then it’s for the other half of the Dark ‘N’ Stormy, their cans of ginger beer. Malcolm Gosling Jr. actually says that he has encountered people in the United States who think the rum distillery only makes ginger beer. Those aren’t the only reasons to know the distillery, though. For well over a century Goslings has been quietly made one of the world’s best rums—its Family Reserve Old Rum. But for the majority of that time, the family-run distillery kept it entirely out of the spotlight. Actually, they kept it entirely for themselves. “I had very greedy forefathers,” says Gosling.
The Old Rum was drank only by actual Goslings at family events or on special occasions until 2003, when the powers that be changed their minds and started sending it out into the world. But even though that was a full 15 years ago, you are forgiven if you’ve missed it up until now. The giant footprint of Black Seal, the brand’s flagship, crowded out its upmarket sibling. Also, there just wasn’t very much of it around—there still isn’t. Goslings only puts out 30,000 bottles a year, many of which still stay on Bermuda. Just for reference, back in 2015 Goslings sold 152,000 cases—that’s 1.8 million bottles—in total.
The Old Rum uses the same liquid Goslings puts in its Black Seal bottles, which has much of the vanilla, caramel and brown sugar flavors you might find in a bourbon. But the Old Rum gets a much longer rest time in bourbon barrels—a total of 16 to 20 years. That extra time ends up giving the rum an earthy pop reminiscent of tobacco. When you toss in the unmistakable sugar cane backbone, this is the perfect spirit for a whiskey drinker with a secret sweet tooth. And while the official line of Gosling’s is that this is a rum meant to be sipped (and that is a delightful experience) Gosling the man says he’s fond of cocktail applications as well—particularly stripped down whiskey drinks like the Old Fashioned or the Manhattan.
While there aren’t so many bottles that you’ll see it sitting on the shelf of your corner liquor store, the internet has made the Old Rum increasingly easy to track down. It retails on average for $71 and you can find it shipping nationwide from shops like New York’s Astor Wines and Los Angeles’ Mission Wine and Spirits and even in state run shops in the control state of Pennsylvania. It might seem steep, but it’s a small price to pay to drink like one of the world’s great rum families.