I decided to perform the challenge as impartially as possible. I spread the test over several days to allow for a fresh perspective with my nose, tongue and brain instead of trying to perform the tests all in one night and missing something. I even had my wife to help to provide an added level of impartiality.
OAKHEART vs Cpt. Morgan Original
The first test was the blind smell test. The first that I was given smelled of vanilla, cinnamon, with a hint of nutmeg. I was sure it was Captain, but asked for it not to be revealed until after I tried the second. The second drink smelled oaky, and had a more caramel and nutmeg aroma than vanilla or cinnamon. Of course, it was the OAKHEART that was the second.
I then moved on to a blind tasting of the drink neat. This time, OAKHEART was the first drink. It was oaky in taste, but not overbearing to make you think you're drinking Jack Daniels. It definitely had a more pronounced caramel flavor quality with a hint of spice, and a nice finish with a touch of sweet fruit. And to top it off, it was smooth, almost to the point where one would ask if it was really rum you were drinking. Comparing it with my second drink, the Captain definitely had strong vanilla and cinnamon notes, but it also had the kick at the end that one anticipates when drinking liquor straight.
My initial impression was that OAKHEART is quite an impressive drink. It has layers of flavors woven together like a tapestry and yet was so smooth that I was pleasantly surprised. I definitely wasn't expecting it to be this tranquil.
The next tests were to enjoy it over ice, and then to mix it with Coca-Cola. As one would already expect, enjoying OAKHEART over ice would be a given. Even in a glass stein taken from the freezer, this drink is good. But what about mixing it with Coke? Initially, the oak may make you think you're drinking "Jack and Coke" for a second, but that quickly passes. The rum compliments the vanilla/caramel flavor already in the Coke and since so many people enjoy fruit in their cola (cherry/lime/etc), the hint of fruit from the rum gives a nice ending. Don't be too surprised if you start seeing requests for "OAK and COKE".
The final test was to mix the rum in strawberry daiquiris. The OAKHEART again was the first drink and the subtle oak flavor to the daiquiri make for a new, refreshing drink. The spice mildly gave it some of that familiar character with which we are all familiar. The Captain daiquiri had more exposed cinnamon and nutmeg flavor, but also had that slight kick on the end.
My overall impression is that Bacardi's OAKHEART is a solid drink that will do well. The company ventures back into the spiced rum category, and does so by sticking to its roots. Don Facundo Bacardi Massó, the founder and namesake for the company, wanted to "tame" rum to make it into a refined drink for upscale taverns, and did so by filtering rum through charcoal and aging it in oak barrels to further mellow the drink. OAKHEART is just that, a mellow spiced rum that is respectable neat, on the rocks, or mixed. The one thing that Captain Morgan has going for it is the vanilla and how it brings out the cinnamon. Those are my two favorite flavors. However, Captain is not the easiest going down. And why drink something that's rough going down if there's something that's easier? Maybe Bacardi will one day take the spiced rum a step further and incorporate greater vanilla and maybe call it NATIVE, or something. After all, distilled rum came from the Caribbean, and vanilla is native to Gulf Coast Mexico (the Spanish conquistador Cortés is credited with introducing vanilla to Europe and the word is derived from the Spanish "vainilla" which means little pod).
OAKHEART is a rum that has definitely found its way to my liquor cabinet. And with it's quality, and it's suggested retail price point, it should definitely find it's way to yours. It's a velvety bouquet of sweet aromas and flavors that will enhance any occasion.