On a recent rum master class I hosted here in Manchester, I showcased Gosling’s Black Seal as an example of Bermuda. It was only then that I realised that despite knowing of the brand since my early days as a bartender, I have never covered it here on my site. So without further hesitation, lets take a look at why I don’t seem to be the only man giving such high praise to Bermuda.
The year is 1806 and James Gosling set out on a voyage to America from England, carrying £10,000 worth of merchandise. After 91 days at sea, his ship’s charter had expired, forcing him to set into the nearest port – St George’s in the north of Bermuda. Instead of finding alternative travel routes to America, he decided to stay in Bermuda, establishing a shop in December on King’s Parade in St George’s. 18 years later in 1824, James Gosling returned to England whilst his brother Ambrose rented a shop on Front Street in the new Capitol of Hamilton for £25 a year, a location for the next 127 years.
In 1857, the firm was renamed Gosling Brothers by Ambrose’s sons, and three years later the first oak barrels of rum distillate arrived in Bermuda. 1863 saw the now distinctive Bermuda black rum formulated and offered for sale from the barrel by customers bringing their own bottles to ‘fill up’. This carried on until the First World War where the name Black Seal came into practice. The black rum was sold in champagne bottles, reclaimed from the British Officer’s Mess, and the corks sealed with black sealing wax. The icon is born.
The name ‘Black Seal’ became the rum of choice between many, with the popularity probably explaining the idea of the little barrel juggling ‘Black Seal’ which adorns every bottle.
The production of Gosling’s is a family recipe (made after many trials and errors) from over two centuries ago, consisting of independently aged distillates aged for at least three years in once-used, charred, American oak bourbon casks, resulting in a blend of aged pot and continuous still distillates.
But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Gosling’s Black Seal – 40%
Sweet on the nose with hints of herbal aromas and spice coming through very slowly. Rather well-balanced on the palate, with sweet notes of molasses combined with dry liquorice and cinnamon. Stewed apple and dry wood flavours makes a presence near the long, lingering and slightly dry finish.
Gosling’s Family Reserve – 40%
Dried fruit and oak notes on the nose with a rich flavour of prunes and dark fruits on the palate with a hint of smokiness that creates a mellow finish.
Both great tot’s on their own, but it did contribute to two signature cocktails, with the Dark ‘n Stormy® name owned by Gosling’s –
Dark ‘n Stormy®
50 ml Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
75 ml Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer
Build in the glass over cubed ice and serve with a lime wedge.
Bermuda Rum Swizzle
Into a pitcher, fill ⅓ of crushed ice and add Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Gosling’s Gold Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, Grenadine or Bermuda Falernum and Angostura bitters. Churn vigorously until a frothing appears or mix in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a Martini glass.
Two incredible classics that everyone should have at least once in their lives. Gosling’s also goes well with food, from appetisers to desserts including Bermuda fish chowder and Bermuda onion soup.
Today, Gosling’s is the only company that blends and bottles in Bermuda, and is the largest exporter of a Bermuda made product. In the UK, their range include the two above and also the 151 proof Black Seal Rum, the Gold Bermuda Rum, Stormy Ginger Beer and the ready-to-drink Dark ‘n Stormy®. A collection worthy of any rum lover, and indeed even to novices.