By way of background I have been going to St. Croix (home of Cruzan rum for quite a while.)
And I just did some research that explains a lot. In August of 2008 Cruzan was acquired by Beam Brands for $100M:
In all fairness I actually think the single barrel product is decent, I guess I am just sad that they phased out the 5 Year aged Diamond Estate, which I liked MUCH better; It was subtler, more complex, just plain better, didn't hit you over the head, and when you finished one, you wanted another. The single barrel to my palate is just a Barrilito 3 Star wanna be, and is oaked nearly to death. Try drinking two on the rocks back to back, I can't, it's just too much; by the time I'm done with one my reaction is whew, I need a glass of water.
They no longer make the 2 year white or amber which were nice, delicately aged products that could be quaffed on the rocks, and stood up nicely to mixing.
My feeling is that Cruzan's recent product moves, indicate they have completely given up nearly 250 years of family tradition. I actually wrote Gary Nelthropp, the President, and member of the family that until recently owned, and still runs the distillery, a letter today telling him how disappointed I am.
They stopped making all of their rum out of local cane a few years back, now they ship in molasses from S. America. I can forgive them that, sort of, as growing cane on the scale they need it, is getting prohibitive on St. Croix.
More recently it's not even bottled in St. Croix, they ship rum to Florida for bottling, I'm sure at some enormous Beam owned plant (and I might guess flavoring too).
The blackstrap product I think is one of the clunkiest dark rums I've ever tasted. Tastes like they just poured blackstrap molasses into cheap industrial rum, which is, in fact, what I think they did. I really think that product is pretty crappy. Some marketing guy woke up and said: "we need a product that competes with Gosling's, three guys in a lab figured out how to do it as cheap as possible, and that's what we got.
I would WAY prefer to drink Coruba, Meyers, Goslings, Lemon Hart, or one of the other countless dark rums that has some genuine, un-manufactured flavor.
So basically over a course of about 2 years they abandoned all of their old family proven recipes and came out with new "marketing-driven" product.
When it comes to rum in general, Cruzan across the board is basically at the bottom of my list going forward, except when I want a handle (1.75l) for small money to make a big bowl of punch on a hot summer day.
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