Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year Old

K&S Bottle-RG-USE

Product of:  Dominican Republic
Aged:  12 years
Price: $34
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes
Kirk and Sweeney 12 yar old rum  is remarkably similar in color to the art deco mahogany table in the Rum Gallery (although the rum is far brighter and more polished than the patina’ed piece of wood I rest my glass on.)  There’s a lot of leg on display too, some short, some long, and everything in between, but none are terribly long lasting.  I sense a sweet rum.  Sure enough, the sweet bouquet suggests light caramel and subtle oak, the signature of Bermudez’s fine aged rum stocks.  Breathe deeper and – mmm – you imagine milk chocolate, burnt sugar, caramel and English toffee.  The aromas are light and sweet, but feel heavy in your nose.  There are nicely toasted oak, freshly cracked walnut shell, mild banana, dried apricot  very ripe mango, and just a hint of alcohol.  On initial taste, a creamy vanilla is quite pronounced, there’s more oak flavor and nutmeg too.  The medium heavyweight body is the perfect viscosity for this rum, contributing to the feel of toffee melting in your mouth that remains extremely smooth and sweet long after the tasting.

K&S Ship-RG1-USE

Overall, Kirk and Sweeney 12 year old rum offers a sublimely consistent segue from aromas to flavors, with subtle nuances building through the sequence to add complexity.  

The schooner - Kirk and Sweeney delivered contraband to New York’s posh Long Island, whose East end was a thirsty port of call during prohibition.  Then, Federal agents forced operations beyond the 3 mile limit (“the rum line”), and finally seized the vessel in January 1924.  The territorial limit was increased to 12 miles offshore later that same year.  Clues to the ship’s brief rum running career are laid out on the bottle like a treasure map.

K&S Detail-Bak Label-RG

The Bottle - Start by reviewing the obvious from bottom to top.  Its unique apple shape is styled after the Onion bottles used three centuries ago for holding rum.  A massive 1 1/8-inch thick glass base adds heft and anchors the bottle.  Moving upwards, features silkscreened on the surface include nautical chart details of Long Island, New York’s south shore and the north coast of the Dominican Republic.  The two land masses represent a.) one of the Schooner’s rum running ports of call (NY) and b.) the Caribbean island source (DR) for the rum that now bears the ship’s name.  Kirk and Sweeney rum is aged in American oak barrels at the Bermudez’ family’s bodega, in the city of Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

K&S Bottle Detail-Compass-RGK&S-Foil-Lat:LonKirk & Sweeney Schooner-USCG Image-RG

Nautical chart details - include a stylish compass and depth soundings taken from along the two coasts.  The sailor in me loves this fastidious detailing.  It shows respect for a ship and a Captain who navigated the thorny patch between sea and law.  Printed on the black neck band is a cropped photo of S/V Kirk & Sweeney loading contraband cargo.  (Image courtesy of the USCG Historian’s Office).

K&S Corks

At the top - sealing cork to bottle is a thin brass-colored adhesive ribbon embossed with the Latitude and Longitude coordinates 40° 34’ 57.62” - 73° 19’ 2.14”.  That position is smack dab in the middle of Jones Beach, New York.  Significance: in the early 1920‘s, Jones Beach was a swampy, undeveloped barrier island along the south shore of Long Island – just the place for shallow draft powerboats to offload the contraband rum delivered by Kirk and Sweeney from the Caribbean.  Development in the late 1920‘s turned Jones Beach into one of the most popular tourist beaches on the US East coast, until Hurricane Sandy ravaged it on October 29, 2012.  Ahoy - 35 Maple Street - you are obsessed! 

The cork stands proud above the wide squat neck.  Pull it to reveal a final visual clue.  Script on the side of the cork reads: “Kirk and Sweeney Seized Jan. 1924.”  End of story (except the rum isn’t gone).

Kirk & Sweeney’s 12 year old rum is sourced from Bermudez’ family’s impressive stores of aging rum. Bermudez’s produces many fine brands of rum, yet each one carries the maker’s signature aromas and flavors.  Kirk and Sweeney follows in that tradition, delivering a deliciously smooth rum in a showpiece bottle for a bargain price.  Kirk and Sweeney wins on every level.

35 Maple Street are contenders for Best In Class honors for the incredible detail they heaped on Kirk and Sweeney’s packaging.  Thank you for telling the story of a ship - on a bottle.

Reviewed: Bottle No.1748 from Batch No.001 during March 2013 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017