Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Lady Bligh Spiced Rum is Better Than Captain Morgan's

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


On Monday night Bottom Shelf research coordinator Emily took me to dinner at one of those deluxe places with clean bathrooms and terrines of things and no televisions at the bar. I ate lamb and eggplant and fifty other things and I've rarely been happier.

There could have been a dozen TVs showing video of my conception and it still would have been a great night, because you can't go wrong when you're stuffing your face with lamb next to a pretty girl who's paying. But the televisionlessness certainly added a touch of class to the proceedings and made me glad I wore my special date pants (the ones that aren't denim or dirty).

Our television at home has been pretty quiet lately, because we mostly watch sports, and basketball—Emily's favorite for sporting reasons, my favorite because the games aren't three hours long—seems not to be happening this year. Other than that, we aspire to watch "The Daily Show" and the other "Daily Show" that's on right after, because it is our duty as urban white people. But we usually go to bed too early. Sometimes Emily claims to watch TV on her computer, but I think that might just be an excuse to put headphones on. I talk a lot.

I may not keep up with much TV these days, but I've liked some shows in the past. Remember "Spenser for Hire"? Man, I loved "Spenser for Hire." And the Cosby spinoff with all the pretty college girls. As far as shows made within the past 20 years, I could never really keep track of what was going on in "The Sopranos," soap opera-wise, because my HBO access has always been spotty, but I saw plenty of scattered episodes and that was a great show, huh? The only thing I didn't like about it was the way it made me accidentally keep rooting for bad guys.

I'm usually immune to the imaginary charms of organized criminals. I admit that I looked into the Crips at one point a few years ago after I learned they have their own special kind of walk, but it turns out I would make a very shoddy Crip, due to my aversions to violent crime and wearing blue. I've never been into mob movies, and the Whitey Bulger story bores me to tears. The only really compelling criminals are the ones who kill people and eat them; if you just kill people, you're evil but not interesting.

The one exception to my anti-gangster policy is my embarrassing soft spot for Somali pirates. They are terrible criminal opportunists like any other, but I have to admit I'm a sucker for the idea of high seas piracy. When we started hearing about this a couple years ago, didn't at least a small part of you think, "Wait a minute. You can do that? You can just take over a ship and hold it for ransom? Why didn't I think of that?"

Which brings us to spiced rum. I bet you've had Captain Morgan's, probably mixed with Coke and probably before you were of legal drinking age. But did you realize there are several other equally nautical and largely piratical spiced rums on the market? I was not aware of this, because for some reason I told myself I hated spiced rum so I never bothered to look into the category. The Captain has been joined by Sailor Jerry for about the same price ($24ish per 750mL), Admiral Nelson for a couple bucks less, and a lone girl pirate rum, the $13 Lady Bligh.

So what kind of lady do you get for half price? A very nice one, in this case. I tasted the Bligh next to Captain Morgan, and both were good but the cheaper one was a little bit better. They have similar overall flavor profiles, with the major distinction being that Lady Bligh somehow manages to buff out the rough alcohol edge that lurks just below the Captain's surface. This made me suspicious enough to do a quick proof-check, and it turns out that the LB is actually a tiny bit stiffer at 72.5 proof to 70.

Both rums were less "spicy" than I'd remembered, and therefore much more versatile. Lady Bligh's good enough to drink neat. It smells like butterscotch and vanilla and it tastes a tiny bit like cream soda, which is the best kind of soda and the best kind of cream. It mixes nicely with ginger beer.

Come on, get off your high booze horse and give it a shot.