My good pal D-Funk (proprietor of Grimey's, the best local indie record store in a five-state area surrounding Nashville) had my wife and I over for dinner and drinks one night. Our spouses went for the red wine. D-Funk & I went for the rum.
I had been expecting Mount Gay, which had come to mean "Rum," as in, "THE brand." We had shared a week in Turks and Caicos together, and an unspecified number of fifths of Mount Gay between us. Not that we didn't seek alternatives. Being the bargain hunters that we are, we'd asked the proprietor of a T&C liquor store if the local spirit, dubbed "Cave Rum" was "any good." In a thick Caribbean patois, she replied, "Well, we sell a lot of it." That sounded suspiciously like damning with faint praise, and quickly considering that best-selling-liquor-hangover time would be immediately deducted from the vacation experience, we shelled out an extra couple of cacti for the Mount Gay. So, between rum runners, mai tais, and ginger ale mixers, I had acquired quite the taste for the stuff.
But tonight, D-Funk confided to me, "You NEED to try THIS." He handed me a bottle bearing the oeuvre of the iconic tattoo artwork of Jerry Collins -- and sure enough, this rum was branded "Sailor Jerry." The grin on D's face was one I had seen before, but it took me a while to realize that his was the seductive, albeit menacing, glare that I'd come to identify with late-teen pushers featured on after-school specials and D.A.R.E. videos. (Think also of the "Windowlicker" look on the Aphex Twin Richard D. James release. That's close, but perhaps not quite, er... malevolent enough.)
For that matter, Sailor Jerry may well be a gateway liquor. Truly, it makes everything taste better. Coffee. Coke. Ginger ale. Piña coladas. Hurricanes. It's even good straight, which isn't something I would quite recommend of Bacardi Silver or Captain Morgan. This stuff is legal, liquid crack. You'll find that the more that you drink this stuff, the more you like it, and that this effect tends to reinforce itself over time.
It is this addicting, quasi-narcotic effect that had another friend of mine re-christen Sailor Jerry Rum as "The Seahorse" -- "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of smack."
I never quite got the appeal of rum before I had The Seahorse. "Rummy" characters have long filled pirate dramas, and the, there's the world's most famous small-town pharmacist, Old Man Gower (at least in his parallel life). This, friends, is what The Rum should taste like. It's creamy, spicy, and smooth - with well rounded caramel and vanilla flavors. It blends into traditional rum drinks like a whisper, which quite belies its "92 proof" Virgin Islands vintage. It has almost none of the astringent, antiseptic mouth-feel of other spiced rums surrounding it on the shelves.
Typical prices for Sailor Jerry are almost unspeakably low, which might lead you to believe that you should go for the Cruzan, Captain Morgan, or Bacardi. Don't be fooled. The Seahorse is a best buy, usually around $15 for a 750ml. I have seen handles for under $20 on special. 'Tis a good thing, too. Fifths go pretty fast. ("Did I just drink half a bottle? Wow.")
Try this rum, but tread carefully. Until you acquaint yourself with The Seahorse, you may find that your pouring hand gets a trifle heavier, as it is so deceptively smooth that you may not think you are getting quite the bang to the ounce. Rum and coke, rum and ginger ale, rum and tonic are all favorites among n00bs to the 'Horse.
For you experimenters, though, throw caution to the wind. However, if you wake up on your neighbor's roof wearing naught but a dog's sweater and a frazzled expression, don't say you weren't warned.