February 11, 2009

Screech Rum: A Retraction

screech_rum.gifOur long-time readers (hi Mom and Dad) will remember that waaaay back in 2005 we wrote a Screech Rum Review that was... How should we put this? It was less than complimentary to the Newfoundland-based rum. Since then, every once in a while we have received a comment to that review saying, in essence, that we were morons for badmouthing the stuff. Here are some of the choicer comments:

"the stuff is supposed to be harsh. if you can't take it go back to drinking coolers or whatever."
- Matt

"listen, im from newfoundland and it sounds to mw like your just a bunch of mainland bitches, do me and the rest of the world a favor and stick to the water you guys call rum."
- Joey

"By Jesus, whom ever wrote this review has got to be half retarded!!"
- Xwayde

"Just split a bottle with two friends this weekend - we thought Screech was great! Carmel, smooth, wonderful. This reviewer is really an idiot."

You get the picture. So, after a few years of this we did what any red-blooded bloggers would do and made a bold, two-pronged move. We checked with the interns who reviewed it, and sat them down to give Screech another try. Below you'll find out what they had to say.

Intern One: OK, I'll be the first to admit that mistakes were made when we did our first Screech review. We'd already been drinking pretty heavily when we decided to review it, and then we split the bottle...

Intern Two: Yeah...check out the time stamp on the original review and you'll see it was just shy of midnight, and that's pretty much the cardinal rule, don't write reviews drunk. Plus, some of the stuff we mixed it with...

Intern One: Oh, man. We kept trying to outdo each other with what to mix it with. Didn't we chase a shot with cold tomato soup?

Intern Two (Reading the original review): "...tastes like Toronto with a Detroit chaser"? What does that even mean?

At this moment, our Editor in Chief points out they're stalling.
Intern Two: So...we don't have to drink the whole bottle again do we?

Intern One: I don't think I could take it.

The Editor in Chief pours a finger or two into a Spirit Sipper, and slides it toward the interns. Intern Two sniffs and takes a sip, and while he swishes it, so does Intern One.
Intern Two: Are you sure this is the same stuff? I don't think any of my hair fell out.

Intern One (Picking up the bottle): Yeah, the label's different. Is this the New Coke of Screech?

Intern Two: It's not as sweet as some of the rums I've had, and it definitely gives you a kick in the tongue, but it's not...

Intern One: It's not scary. I remember more of a "burning tires and formaldehyde" kind of vibe.

Intern Two: It's pretty good actually. I probably wouldn't want to shoot it all that often (that's how we drank that first bottle) but I can see it making a great Rum and cola because it's not too sweet. Put a little lime in there and I'd be able to hunker down with a bottle.

Intern One (Taking another sip): Yeah, I'd drink this. I'd drink hell out of this.

In Summation: After a little more yammering, both interns agreed that they had been a bit too harsh on this rum (which isn't actually made in Newfoundland anymore; it's actually Jamaican). They both felt it's a good rum for the price ($15-$20 for 750ml) and they both planned on picking up a bottle to add to their liquor cabinets. They both still claim strongly that the formulation they tried on this particular day was different than what they originally drank.

So can we claim our review convinced the Screech folks to rethink their rum? We can say almost unequivocally "no," so here's what we will say to all the Screech fans out there:

(Give us a second...this is hard for a Snob.)

We were wrong. We're sorry. We are officially Screech fans, and we'll kiss the puffin's ass or whatever it is you folks say up there.

And if you're not a Screech drinker but you like your rum with some kick, give it a try and let us know what you think. It's available in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and you may be able to find it online.

Find out more at Screech Rum

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at February 11, 2009 1:32 PM
Recent Comments

I'm a Newfoundlander. Personally, I enjoyed the insane mouth-burning taste of the original Rum when it was still made out of old molasses shipping barrels. Nothing was quite as good as sitting in the old cabin between Toogood Arm and Cobbs Arm, looking out the window at the sea, drinking Screech, smoking Pipe Tobacco and Playing The Last of the Irish Rovers on Accordion into the long hours of the night. And the stories of the origin of the name are actually true, or, as true as they get in Newfoundland. There are even songs written about it.
"Some Americans stumbled on our Newfoundland Screech, they tipped back the bottle and drank 6 ounces each, and they let out a howl as they ran for the beach, Thank god we're surrounded by water."
The new rum still tastes good, much better than some other rums I've drank, but it doesn't hold the same "oh-my-god" gut wrenching strength it used to run on. But that's it I spose, wha? Can't do nar a thing about it now anyways eh b'y.

Posted by: Ryan at February 9, 2012 5:25 PM

At The Rum Project (linked) Sue Sea and I have reviewed most of the rums that count, over 130 of them. Let me be clear: I've not tasted "Screetch", but if it's like some of the other "rums" blended and bottled by the NLC, I'd be cautious.

The reason is simple: it doesn't take long before you recognize "rums" that are mostly backstory. Whether you name a rum after a two-block party street (George St.) or after a name for rotgut moonshine called "Screetch" produced from the dregs of decrepit shipping barrels, the result is the same - a rousing and marketable backstory housing a hollow product.

This website's first reviews were pretty awful, and many of the early comments reflected that. And I sure wouldn't blame on the time of night or state of sobriety - frankly as the hour grows later and the blood alcohol grows higher, the better the women look and the rum tastes.

So I don't buy that. OTOH, I'd be more inclined to believe that the NLC got the messege and dramatically changed the formula from awful to palatable.

Beware the marketing mavens, for they serve you ill...

Posted by: Capn Jimbo's Rum Project at August 6, 2011 4:12 PM

So, I was in my local grocery store here in Northern Maine and my eyes fell on a bottle of the legendary Newfie Screech. My boyfriend is from Newfoundland and I had heard a lot about the stuff. So, being the intrepid Mainer that I am, I picked up a bottle. I was a tad afraid to try it after hearing all the stories. So, my first sip consisted of me sitting down, closing my eyes, taking a very deep breath and touching the infamous brown liquid to my lips. I was shocked! The stuff isn't bad at all. It was very mellow and didn't have the burn of other rums I have had. So, I decided to take it a step further. I mixed a liberal glub-glub of it with some Coke. I was amazed at what a smooth drink it made! So, to anybody out there afraid of Screech, give it a try. It is much less sweet than most rums and very flavorful and I don't find it to be too strong at all. I'm a big fan of the stuff!

Posted by: Lisa at February 19, 2011 5:54 PM


I am from Newfoundland but living in Alberta right now. I just found a bottle of screech at the local liquor store so I picked it up, just a kind of novelty type think(being a newfie and all) well i just finished the whole thing... and honestly for hard liquor i prefer it to anything i have had before. it is much smother than captain morgan and has a nice smoooth caramel sweet kind of taste, mixed with coke of course... shooting it is a whole other deal and can get pretty painful. so yeah, it is a great rum, as long as you don't drink it like an idiot.

Posted by: Garrett LeGrow at December 29, 2009 2:11 AM

Before you decide to head on up to the land of Bob & Doug McKenzie, keep in mind that liquor cost 2 to 3 times as much as what you currently pay in Maine, NH or Mass.

You guys get frickin 1 liter bottles of just about any spirit for as cheap as $12 USD while we Cannucks are forced to get the 750ml versions for as much as $25-40 CAD. I have yet to see a 1 liter bottle of any spirit in a Canadian liquor store... that's how uncommon that size is over here (probably because nobody would want to pay $60 CAD for it)

The exchange rate is great for Americans heading to Canada right now, but once you factor in our retarded pricing, you wouldn't be saving all that much. Trust me, you're better off buying the stuff locally in USA.

Posted by: SH at February 23, 2009 11:42 PM

You know what might have changed our opinion too? Perspective. We've tasted some truly crappy liquors around here, including one we called Burmashave around the office because it tasted like cologne. But still...Screech has its moments, and we'd LOVE to try the proper stuff. Sounds like an excuse to head north!

Posted by: Liquor Snob at February 11, 2009 10:30 PM

As a Canadian LS reader... thanks! Though Screech (proper Screech, not the stuff they export) is godawful. So is the stuff they export, actually.... but that's the point. Goes with the legend. I was actually planning to bring some (for the first time in years) to a party for a friend this weekend =D

Posted by: Johann K at February 11, 2009 10:26 PM
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