Off the gun, the honchos at Morgan’s missed the mark and nothing about their whirlwind campaign and club tours could do anything to salvage it. Though I have to admit it was a brilliant marketing campaign, everyone that loves a tipple definitely heard about them. They came in with a bang, made a whole lot of noise and for a minute I was sold.
Here’s a little back story.
Polite weekends for me mean putting on a pair of sweat pants, loose t-shirt and I throw on a half jacket in case it gets cold. Then it involves a short trip to Nairobi West, the pork center and affordable booze capital, order some wet fry with mounds of Ugali. Of course, there’s chili involved but it has to taste from a distance you know? Then, of course, a good bottle of Rum because for some reason that science is yet to explain Rum just puts the ring on that combination.
With as much as little as the Kenyan market is exposed to rum, when you get to Nairobi West your best bet would be the Captain Morgan’s Spiced Gold. If an ode was ever written to this particular drink it would sing about its delicious flavors that hug your tongue like a rekindled romance. It is a drink that spurs conversation without the flares of whiskey. It ignores the dumbing down of the IQ like beer does and many a friend has been made over the drink.
The only way to enjoy that drink is to not drink it at all.
So when EABL decided it was a good idea to start manufacturing the drink here I was all up for it. I mean it would be locally available so none of that import tax shit. Meaning it would be friendlier to the pocket. The one thing EABL did not mention is by being made locally the drink would be trash. The first time I tasted the Gold variant, it felt like I had just come from a vacation down at the coast only to be met by an angry wife. It was nothing close to the Spiced Gold version I had come to love.
Honestly, it felt like a step-down. A big step down. Either EABL thought it a good idea to use substandard products because, Kenyan market. Or they did not get the skills from the original makers of the rum. You would think chasing it would make things any better? It does not. Not unless you drown a finger of it in two liters of soda. The only way to enjoy that drink is to not drink it at all.
First, it has too much sugar. While the basic ingredients for Rum are molasses it feels like they used a cheaper substitute. Then it stings. It feels like you are taking methylated spirit in a mouthful of sores. I do not even want to imagine what it would taste like in a cocktail. Heck, even a quick spot test done side by side against the Spiced Gold variant shows it is darker in color, poor label quality, and the bottle looks like it has seen worse days than Jack Sparrow.
The hangover too feels like an estranged lover knocking at your door at 3 AM in the middle of the night with a cohort of goons threatening your peace. If that does not paint the picture for you imagine your head is a kitchen and all your utensils decide to all fall off their shelves, AT. THE. SAME. DAMN. TIME.
As a drinks writer, I do not like bashing drinks. There’s a drink out there for everybody. But, what I will not do is ignore my keyboard when a cheaper (almost knock-off) variety is being paraded as the perfect substitute.
EABL should up their game and give us a Captain Morgan’s Gold that can stand up to its imported mate. Otherwise, they should lose the title, forget the franchise and just rebrand the whole drink.
That being said, I still love my rum and would advise any rum lover out there to steer away from the Gold and instead spend those extra pennies and get the imported Spiced Gold Version. Your taste buds will thank you for it. Your whole being will thank you for it. That ancestor who turns in the grave with all the bad decisions you make will turn again and give you a thumbs up.