Review: Pusser’s Rum – 15 Years Old, Gunpowder Proof, and Painkiller Mix
Pusser’s (slang for “purser’s,” as in the purser of a ship) is a surprisingly new rum brand that only dates back to 1979. The company celebrates the British Royal Navy, but it’s actually based in Charleston, SC. Its rum is currently sourced from Guyana, where it is distilled in wooden pot stills. (Previously the brand was a blend of rums from Guyana and Trinidad.)
Pusser’s portfolio currently spans five rums. Here we look at two, including what is considered its top of the line bottling, a 15 year old expression. We’re also looking at Pusser’s Painkiller Mix, the cocktail with which the brand is most closely identified.
Pusser’s Rum 15 Years Old – Despite its advanced age, this rum has a surprisingly harsh nose, quite boozy with notes of overripe fruits and a substantial oiled leather character. The palate runs toward austerity: drip coffee, Madeira, carob, and licorice-like amaro notes. The finish is particularly winey, with a mocha bent and hints of vanilla. Rather sharp on the whole, and aggressive at times considering the age of the spirit. A surprising letdown considering its fine reputation. 80 proof. B / $55
Pusser’s Rum Gunpowder Proof – This overproof bottling carries no age statement, though it’s dark as molasses in color — arguably darker than the 15 year old (whatever that’s worth). The nose is evocative and rich, with notes of coffee and Madeira wine again, plus ample alcohol-fueled fire amidst the oiled leather character. The palate is spicy with red pepper, clove, and cinnamon, and laced with walnut notes to add savory depth and modest brown sugar to sweeten things up. The finish finds less heat than expected, which allows a lingering coffee bean note to hang in there. If you’re looking for an overproof rum that isn’t overbearingly boozy, Pusser’s is definitely one to consider. 109 proof. A- / $30
Pusser’s Rum Painkiller Mix – This blend of pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut cream (in that order), when mixed with rum, gives you a Painkiller, which is Pusser’s signature drink — essentially a (much) more pineapple-forward pina colada, with a little OJ in the mix. It’s an underrated cocktail and in this prepackaged rendition, a surprisingly delightful one, balancing the three primary components with great aplomb. There’s a lot of sweetness in the package here, but it’s never too much — particularly if you’re careful to add enough rum to the mix. (I thought it was particularly delightful with Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum.) Don’t forget the sprinkle of nutmeg to finish things off right. A- / $7 per 1 liter bottle