Dark ‘N Stormy with Gosling’s


Followers of Summer Fruit Cup may recall January’s Ginger Beer tasting; well, with all those samples about, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment with a ginger beer cocktail and my cocktail of choice is the Dark ‘N Stormy. This drink is synonymous with one rum: Gosling’s; let’s have a quick look at that first.

The story of Gosling’s Rum starts in 1806, when James Gosling, the son of a spirits merchant, was sailing with £10,000 of stock across the Atlantic to North America. Unfortunately, his charter ran out part-way through the trip and he only made it as far as Bermuda.

James set up shop on the island, first in St. George and then in Hamilton, and in 1824 his brother joined him. In 1860, the Gosling brothers received their first batch of rum distillate and, by 1863, they had finished development of the rum that was to become Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.

Why Black Seal?
Originally the rum was sold by the barrel and people would bring their own bottles to fill. Around the time of the First World War, Gosling’s recycled the empty Champagne bottles that they acquired from the British Naval officers’ mess (who enjoyed their bubbly) and, to keep the corks in place, they sealed them with BLACK SEALing wax.

Back in the present day, Gosling’s have four different rums in their current UK range:

A bottle of Gosling's Black Rum and a can of their new Ginger Beer, specifically designed as the rum's perfect partner in a Dark 'N stormy.

#1) Gosling’s Black Rum (40% ABV)
This has a lovely thick & sticky texture and is a good example of what a typical dark rum, in my opinion, should be. There are hints of treacle and is slightly reminiscent of fruit cake; when I tried some drizzled over a piece of Dundee Cake, it worked a treat.

#2) Gosling’s Gold
This rum was quite fresh and balanced, with no over-powering flavours. Specially designed for mixing, it makes a fine simple rum cocktail and is an all-round great rum for cocktails.

#3) Gosling’s 151 (75.5% ABV)*
A high-proof version of the Gosling’s Black, this is my favourite of their current range. The dark flavours of Black Rum are concentrated by the higher proof. I have had other high-proof (70%+) spirits, but few are as sippable and tasty as this. It is exceptionally strong and so IF you are going to drink it on it’s own, only have a small portion.

#4) Gosling’s Family Reserve (AKA “Old Rum” [US])
This has a great nose, reminiscent of toasted sugar. It is exceptionally soft on the palette and you can hold it in your mouth to really appreciate the flavour with only a very tiny burn. This is still obviously a dark rum, but is less sticky than the Black; I found a hint of coffee bean on the finish. A perfect sipping rum.

* Gosling’s also bottle their rum at 140 proof (70% ABV), but this version is not currently available in the UK.

The Dark ‘N Stormy is one of the most prolific ginger beer cocktails (rivaled only by the Moscow Mule), but where was it created and what is its connection with Gosling’s Rum?

The drink is thought to have originated shortly after World War I when it was invented by Naval Officers on the island, who used to add some of the local rum to their home-made ginger beer. The Dark ‘n Stormy refers to the dark clouds formed when the black rum mixes with the ginger beer see below similar to weather conditions that only a fool or madman would sail under.

What I find really interesting about this drink is that the name Dark ‘n Stormy is trademarked and that, in order to be called this, it must contain Gosling’s Dark Rum and Ginger Beer, although the exact proportions of the ingredients are not prescribed. It is optional to add a squeeze of lime.

A Dark 'N Stormy with Gosling's Black Rum & Gosling's Ginger Beer.

The Tasting

So, with the rum and the history dealt with, now to the tasting. In our quest to find the perfect match for Gosling’s Rum, we tried 27 different ginger beers. We used a 2:1 ratio of ginger eer to Gosling’s and added a squeeze of lime wedge. Here are the results:

#1 Fevertree Regular
Well balanced, refreshing and moreish; the flavour moves smoothly from rum to lime to ginger.

#2 Fevertree Diet
A bit musky, a bit savory. Tingly, rather than fiery; not as good as Fevertree Regular.

#3 Great Uncle Cornelius
This was a still variety of ginger beer with strong apple flavours and less ginger. Not a good combination.

#4 Belvoir
Not a good match for Gosling’s; it is certainly fiery, but the flavours of the rum are lost.

#5 Barr’s
A flat flavour-profile and too sweet.  A poor example of a Dark ‘N Stormy.

#6 Hartridge’s Celebrated
A little dull; this drink lacks depth and character.

#7 Hartridge’s Regular
A very respectable Dark ‘N Stormy: good and fiery, and not too sweet. Complements the rum.

#8 Fentiman’s Original
Good strong ginger flavours: pow! The rum is maybe slightly overpowered by the ginger, but this isn’t a serious issue.

#9 Fentiman’s Cool
A bit buttery. Quite a smooth drink, but the rum is masked. Still, this is refreshing.

#10 Heron Valley
A tasty mix: the rum comes through, along with a medium amount of fieriness from the ginger.

#11 Breckland Orchard Chilli Ginger Beer
Delicious; one of the best. The flavours of the rum can be fully appreciated and match the warmth of the ginger well. In addition, the lime adds a little freshness. This isn’t your usual Dark ‘N Stormy, but is very tasty and full of flavour.

#12 Britivc
Sweet, like spiced lemonade or gingerbread coffee. Quite good, but a touch too sweet.

#13 Schweppes
Easy to taste the rum, could do with a bit more ginger, but is, nonetheless, a good drink.

#14 Luscombe Cool
Cooling, with hints of sweet buttercream and ginger. Very pleasant and refreshing.

#15 Old Jamaica
Pretty good; a nice balance of rum, ginger and lime. Sweet, but very tasty.

#16 Luscombe Hot
The rum and the buttery-ness of the beer work well together, producing a lovely finish and a good, fiery punch.

#17 Old Jamaica Diet
Very similar to the regular and easily the best diet Dark ‘N Stormy that we tried.

#18 Bundaburg Regular
OK, but a bit unbalanced. This ginger beer tasted much better on its own.

#19 Abbott’s
A touch on the sweet side, but refreshing all the same. A good example of a Dark ‘N Stormy.

#20 Bundaburg Diet
Very artificially sweet, not a good drink.

#21 Gosling’s

Flavourful, easy to appreciate the rum. Flavours of toasted dark sugar. Ginger comes through and lingers at the end, lime adds a little extra zing. Really tasty.

#22 Marks & Spencer Ltd. – Extremely Fiery Ginger Beer
I thought this may overpower the rum but this isn’t an issue, the drink is a bit bitter in the middle but otherwise pretty good and very fiery.

#23 Crabbie’s Fiery Ginger Beer
Excellent, good balance of rum/ginger/sweetness has a warm finish that pleasantly lingers.

#24 Marks & Spencer Fiery Ginger Beer
A bit bland, rum flavours are lost and there is not much ginger fire.

#25 Marks & Spencer Gastropub Authentic Ginger Beer
Rather unpleasant, bad mix of flavours, disappointing.

#26 Stone’s
Rather syrupy, not fiery enough but it does compliment the rum well. Would be better with a bit more bite.

#27 Crabbies Cloudy
Not a bad combo but I would prefer to drink this on it’s own and Crabbie’s fiery in a Dark ‘N Stormy.


In Conclusion

If you have never tried a Dark ‘N Stormy I suggest you do and with warmer weather on its way it’s worth mentioning that this makes a lovely cooler. My top tips for Ginger Beers would be Breckland Orchard, Gosling’s Own, Luscombe Hot and Crabbies Firey, for those with a sweet tooth may I suggest trying Old Jamaica.


Special thanks to Sarah and Kirsty from LoveDrinks, who helped to make this article possible.


Gum (Jum) and Tonic

I came across a recipe today and inspired by my cousin’s interest in this TV program, my interest was piqued, so I thought I’d give it a try.

L:R Gum & Tonic with Gosling's Gold and with Gosling's Black


The recipe comes from the Janitor (Glen Matthews)  from the TV show “Scrubs” and is described as a Gin, Rum and Tonic and is classified, by him, as a Breakfast Liqueur. The Janitor typically drinks his Gum and Tonic’s from a Thermos flask. The work Gum comes from combining the words Gin + Rum but for some reason he pronounces it “Jum”pecific details are sketchy; such as what sort of rum to use and the appropriate ratios.

For my purposes I mixed:

1pt Gin

1pt Rum

4pts Tonic Water

This is my usually gin and tonic ratios with half the gin amount replaced with rum. But as I couldn’t decide on what type of rum to use and I had Goslings Gold and Goslings Dark in the house I thought I’d try out both. I used Taurus Gin and Schweppes Tonic. Here are the results:

Gosling’s Gold (40% ABV)

An interesting combination but lacked some flavour, may have been improved with a squeeze of citrus but I’m not convinced. It does not do any of the ingredients justice. Although I quite like Gosling’s Gold and Taurus Gin in other drinks, I don’t think I would have this particular one again.

Gosling’s Dark (40%ABV)

Quite a good combination, flavours of the dark rum go well with the gin, and they don’t clash. It is improved significantly by a little squeeze of lime and with this addition is a tasty cooler.

“Gum (JUM) & Tonic” made with Gosling’s Black & Taurus Gin, served in the traditional container.


In conclusion:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this light-hearted post and if you are making a Gum (Jum) and Tonic I would suggest using a dark rum, such as Gosling’s, and add a squeeze of lime. Whilst not as good as a Gin & Tonic or a Dark “N” Stormy (two of my favourite drinks) it a decent drink in it’s own right.

Ginger Beer Tasting – 27 (previously 20) Varieties put through their paces.

I’ve got a little gin research project going on that is due the end of February. The survey is simple and takes 90 seconds please help us out by completing the survey.

 Click here to take survey

This article has been updated for Ginger Beers 21 -27 please scroll to the bottom.

One of my first favourite cocktails was the Moscow Mule; its easy construction and readily available ingredients, as well as my previous fondness for ginger beer (and ale), made it very attractive to me.

A part-time stickler for tradition (see the Vesper post), my choice of vodka has never been in question: I have always used Smirnoff. Limes are also relatively standard (despite there always being some exceptions), but a more considerable question to ask is which ginger beer to use (due to the lack in the UK of the original Moscow Mule ginger beer, Cock ‘N’ Bull). Having recently been encouraged by an experienced individual in the spirit world to conduct a ginger ale tasting (17th Jan 2011, 19:00 @ Graphic) I thought I would take some time over the festive period to explore the options available with regards to ginger beer. (A dedicated Moscow Mule post will follow shortly.)

The ginger beer market seems to be split into four distinct types: mass-market (Britvic, Schweppes, Old Jamaica); boutique brands (smaller, but still readily available, e.g. Fentimans and Fevertree); small batch (Breckland Orchard & Luscombe); and supermarket own-brand.

The ginger beers that we selected to try on this occasion were tasted on their own without ice, but had been chilled beforehand. The panel was made up of four non-industry enthusiasts all ready to put their taste buds to the test and hoping for a non-repeat of Donoghue vs. Stevenson.

#1) Great Uncle Cornelius

Made by James White, this was the only still Ginger Beer we tried and had the look and taste of cloudy apple juice. It was considered by the panel to be very drinkable and very tasty. It lacked a strong ginger flavour and didn’t really taste like a typical ginger beer, although I think that is how it is meant to be.

Simply as a soft drink, this would make a perfect summer cooler and I would heartily recommend it for that. One of the panel summed it up nicely with, “I could drink this all day.”.

#2) Schweppes
A very sweet variety; nice and bubbly. What was unusual about this one was that it had a nose of Terry’s Chocolate Orange; it was reminiscent of orange soda. There was quite a lot of ginger, but overall it was felt that the ginger was too weak and the beer too sweet.

#3) Fentiman’s Regular
A very pleasant flavour, with a good strong ginger presence and a taste that lasts for a long time. This also improved noticeably with ice and the panel thought it would be a good drink to accompany a meal.

Available from Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury & Morrisons 4 x 275ml  for around £4.25 As well as large variety of Independent Retailers, if you have trouble finding some, Fentiman’s offer a personal postcode search service to help you find you nearest stockist; contact them via their website.

#4) Barr’s Original
From the creators of IrnBru, this ginger beer had a smell that the panel didn’t like very much. It rated average on terms of warmth and general flavour, but the initial taste was disliked and its bitter finish divided the group. We much preferred #17, which is also owned by Barr’s.

Available from Tesco £1.45 for 750ml

#5) Bundaburg Regular
This is a ginger beer from Australia. Before the tasting, I would say that this was my favourite, but, upon reflection, I realised that although it a lovely soft drink in its own right, it isn’t really a typical ginger beer and, as such, doesn’t mix like one either.
The rest of the panel felt that it was quite sweet, but lacked a lasting flavour and the gingery fieriness that they were looking for. Great on its own, but not for mixing.

Available in Waitrose £1.19 for 340ml

#6) Fentiman’s Cool (Organic)
A relatively recent addition to the Fentiman’s range, this organic variety was the first of two “cool” Ginger beers that we tried. The notion of a “cool” ginger beer is that it has a more subtle ginger flavour and is aimed at those the may find a typical ginger beer a touch too firey.

Fentiman’s Cool tasted strongly of vanilla and buttercream and reminded one of the panel of custard cream biscuits. Quite a long flavour with a mild fiery kick,it was a little watery on the finish. Quite nice, but the panel felt that it lacked something.

Available at various Independent Retailers, if you have trouble finding some, Fentimans offer a personal postcode search service to help you find you nearest stockist; contact them via their website.

#7) Hartridge’s Celebrated
Made by a family-owned company that has been making soft drinks since 1882, this variety is part of the Francis Hartridge Celebrated Range, named after the founder of the company.
It had one of the best fizzes of all of the ginger beers that we tried and certainly smelt like ginger beer. There was a medium level of ginger on the flavour and it had a strong and long warmth to it. There is also an excellent root beer and a good quality dandelion and burdock in the same range.

Update: I tried Hartridge’s Regular Ginger Beer today, in the interests of completion, here are some tasting notes but it has not been included in the already-determined rankings. This much more firey than the Celebrated, it has a lovely lip-tingling feeling and is rather quaffable, if I’d had this found this earlier (for the tasting) it would have definately been a contender.

Available in Morrisons and Waitrose

#8) Fevertree Regular
A familiar face when it comes to premium mixers, this was popular amongst our panel. It had a very strong ginger flavour and was rather fizzy. There were some citrus notes also and it was certainly enjoyed by the panel; just be careful not to get the bubbles up your nose!

Available from Waitrose £1.75 for 500ml

#9) Fevertree Naturally Light
We thought that this was a subdued version of Fevertree’s Original; unless you specifically want a low calorie version, I would stick to the regular. However, if you want a diet ginger beer, this is not a bad option.

Available from Waitrose £1.75 for 500ml

#10) Britvic
A firm favourite in many pubs and bars across the land, I first had this when I was given it accidentally instead of ginger ale; it was a nice surprise, though. It had a savoury nose and was rather sweet; some of the panel found the sweetness rather artificial (checking the bottle later, I found that it does contain aspartame). The flavour is relatively low on the ginger, but light and rather mixable.

#11) Belvoir
Rather perfumed, with some hints of elderflower, Belvoir tasted more herbal than most of the other ginger beers, although it also had some fiery ginger notes. It wasn’t very fizzy at all, which may appeal to some. The panel quite enjoyed this and thought that it had a nice aftertaste, but when considered against the others, it was only upper-middle-of-the-road.

Available from Asda £2.20 for 750ml

#12) Old Jamaica
Extremely bubbly, with a strong sweetness underneath and a fierce fieriness. Very popular with the whole panel; a favourite and generally considered to be what a ginger beer should be.

Available from Asda £2.99 for 6 x 330ml

#13) Luscombe Cool
This had a perfumed nose and a creamy texture. It had a medium amount of ginger and a taste somewhat reminiscent of butter cream. Certain resemblances with the Fentiman’s Cool.

Available Online from Luscombe’s website, Able & Cole, Riverford Organic and The Virtual Farmers Market.

In-store at Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods.

#14) Heron Valley
A very refreshing drink with a savoury nose and flavour (but not herbal). We thought that this was quite a simple drink, but you certainly get a lovely flash of fiery flavour. It was a pleasure to drink on its own and mixed well, too.

Available from Heron Valley’s website and selected delicatessens and bars in the Plymouth area (including the Refectory bar at Plymouth Gin distillery)

#15) Breckland Orchard Chilli Ginger Beer
With a citrus nose of orange and lemons, this reminded one of the panel of bonbons. As for the taste, the whole panel loved it; we thought that it had just the right balance of sweetness and fieriness. Both refreshing and warming, the chilli comes through at the end, in a similar way that it does in chilli chocolate, producing a unique twist on a product that, by all accounts, was already pretty good. If you haven’t tried this yet, do. Our highest recommendation.

For further details visit:Breckland Orchard’s Website

#16) Luscombe Hot
Starting with an enticing nose, this had a strong, fiery heart. Some vanilla and butter cream flavours in addition to the ginger. This was also one of the most warming. I know a bartender who forever sings the praises of this product and I can see why.

Available Online from Luscombe’s websiteAble & ColeRiverford Organic and The Virtual Farmers Market.

In-store at Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods.

#17) Abbott’s
Also owned by Barr’s (4), this was very popular with the panel. It was quite sweet and had a zing of ginger. From my own experience, this had a taste that was quite close to some of the supermarket own-brands that are available. It was lovely served over ice with a splash of lime cordial.

#18) Gosling’s
Created by Goslings Rum to be the perfect partner for their signature cocktail, the primary purpose of this ginger beer is to be a good mixer.
It was pleasantly fizzy, with small bubbles. There were subtle notes of herbs and savoury, with a good balance of sweetness and warmth and a pleasant aftertaste. There was a good amount of ginger in the flavour, but it wasn’t overpowering; this isn’t too surprising, given that it was designed as a mixer, but, even so, it was a firm favourite of the panel to drink on its own.

Although not yet available in the UK, Gosling’s Ginger beer will hopefully launch later in 2011.

#19) Old Jamaica Diet
Very close to the Original: very bubbly, with a fiery kick; it wasn’t too sweet and any flavour of artificial sweetness is minimal. Quite tasty.

Available from Asda £2.99 for 6 x 330ml

#20) Bundaburg Diet
This ginger beer was quite dark in comparison to many others: it was almost ochre in colour. It started off in a similar fashion to the Bundaburg Regular, with a little burst of ginger, but the finish was full of artificial sweetness, which spoilt the whole experience.

Available in Waitrose £1.19 for 340ml

In conclusion, there does seem to be different flavour camps of ginger beers and, from our experience, different people will be attracted to different camps. For a lighter, more buttery drink with hints of vanilla, the two “cool” (Luscombe and Fentiman’s) ginger beers and the Bundaburg would be worth a look.

We thought that the best diet variety was Fevertree, followed closely by Old Jamaica.*

* None of the “Diet” versions that we tried contained Aspartame; however, it’s worth noting that Britvic (Regular) does.


I have since come across a further 7 ginger beers. These were not part of the original tasting and so are not included in the rankings. Nonetheless here are some tasting notes.

THE NEW ONES (L:R) Hartridges, M&S Fiery, Crabbie’s Fiery, M&S Extremely Fiery, M&S Gastropub, Stoney (CocaCola from SA)

#21 Marks & Spencer Ltd. – Extremely Fiery Ginger Beer

This is certainly fiery and, frankly, blows everything else out of the water. The fieriness comes at the cost of most of the other flavours, although I can say that sweetness levels are just right. If you like ginger beer REALLY fiery, then give this a go.

Available from Marks & Spencer £1.49 for 750ml.

#22 Hartridges

With a hint of chocolate orange creams on the nose, Mrs. B found this ginger beer particularly tasty. There was a nice amount of fizz and a good amount of fire, with hints of orange in the flavour, too.

#23 Crabbie’s Fiery Ginger Beer

This ginger beer had a raw fieriness that is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. It was also quite fizzy and not too sweet, but, as the ginger leaves your lips tingling after a single sip, this is one for the hardened ginger beer drinker.

#24 Marks & Spencer Fiery Ginger Beer

This is pleasant enough: quite gingery and unusually dry for a ginger beer. The flavour profile is nicely balanced, if not a little underwhelming. This worked as a mixer, but if you want a soft drink on its own, I’d opt for one of the other two varieties from M&S.

Available from Marks & Spencer £0.99 for One Litre.

#25 Stoney (from Coca Cola)

This is made by the Coca Cola Corporation and was kindly sent to me all the way from South Africa. Initially, it had a slight floral taste and was a little reminiscent of violet lemonade. This is halfway between a cool and a hot ginger beer (it has a reasonable fiery kick) and, curiously, the mid-notes are somewhat akin to Mountain Dew.

#26 Marks & Spencer Gastropub Authentic Ginger Beer

Typical sweet ginger nose, quite lemony with a medium amount of ginger and warmth. There’s a little muskiness, but over ice or served ice cold this was quite refreshing.

Available from Marks & Spencer £0.80 for 500ml.

#27 John Crabbies Traditional Cloudy Ginger Beer
I quite like the new Crabbie’s it has a good amount of fieriness and is pleasantly effervescence, neither too fizzy nor to flat. The balance of sweetness is about right and it’s popular with a few folks I’ve shared a sample with.

Available from Waitrose £1.99 for 70cl.

Many thanks to: Love Drinks, Luscombe, Breckland Orchard, Fentiman’s, Heron Valley, Great Uncle Cornelius (James White drinks) for your kind support for this article.

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