Ginger Beer Review: Gosling’s

If nothing else, Gosling’s is exceptional — at least in my survey thus far — in that it is available in a 1 liter plastic bottle. I came across this long, tall candidate for bubbly ginger greatness at a not-too-far-away Bevmo late one Sunday afternoon.

goslings_croppedGoslings is also exceptional in another way. It (and its diet iteration) are, to date, the only ginger soft drinks under consideration here to be brought to the marketplace by a decided purveyor of “hard” adult beverages. Or to put it more eloquently, hooch.


Gosling’s is no boutique craft brewery dipping its toes in the soft drink category for kicks. Gosling’s is a Bermuda-based distiller of rum. Purportedly, the company has its roots in an ill-fated merchant expedition carrying wines and spirits from England to the newbie republic of the United States in 1806. (That was the same year Lewis and Clark returned from their exploration of the Louisiana Territory.)

Luck was not with the ship carrying James Gosling and his tippler’s cargo. The vessel never reached America. Instead, uncooperative winds forced it to seek port in Bermuda. And from that, the Gosling’s marketing people would have us know, a rum-making and rum-selling dynasty was born. Gosling’s rum, in fact, is one of Bermuda’s largest exports.

Why would a rum distiller throw its hat into the ring with a ginger beer? Answer: because of a signature cocktail whose centenary is probably coming up right about now.

“The” cocktail to linger over in Bermuda — so I hear (my parents honeymooned there but I have never been) — is a rum and ginger beer concoction called the “Dark ’n’ Stormy.” The Dark ‘n’ Stormy was first constituted just after World War I. And Gosling’s has its sights set on locking up exclusive rights to the drink. In fact, Goslings really doesn’t want anyone sipping a Dark ’n’ Stormy formulated with any rum other than their own brand. They have gone so far as to trademark the cocktail in an effort to prevent any barkeep from serving one up with, say, Bacardi. Or Captain Morgan’s. (Those two brands are, globally, #1 and #2 in terms of rum’s market share).

While they’re at it, Gosling’s is also taking pains to secure a monopoly on the other Dark ’n’ Stormy ingredient: the ginger beer.

From what I understand, building consensus among trans-Caribbean mixologists on what kind of ginger beer makes the best Dark ’N Stormy was also a process fraught with controversy. So Gosling’s put their own recipe out there. (That explains the “stormy” notation on the inner tube worn by the sea lion on the Gosling’s label. One can only deduce that the ginger beer is the “stormy” part and the “black label” rum is the “dark” part.)

Helping produce Gosling’s Ginger beer is another multigenerational family company: Polar Beverages of Worcester, MA. Polar Beverages also makes their own “extra bold” Golden Ginger Ale — which I wouldn’t mind trying.

Gosling’s touts their creation as the “definitive” ginger beer. I don’t know that I would agree on that part.

But this entry is solid, baby, solid.


Gosling’s has an inviting color. It’s neither too flat nor too fizzy. And it offers a respectable balance of sweet and dry.

Spicy, though, this ginger beer is not. It gives off only a hint of heat — and this is right before the slightly woody aftertaste with which it leaves the tongue. I did not find the woody aftertaste so appealing straight away. But since I was blessed with a 1 liter bottle, it was easy to return to Gosling’s quite a few times after that first glassful. The woodiness grew on me.

Gosling’s is refreshing and drinkable. I would drink it even on a light ‘n’ clement day. But given the spicy intensity and boldness of some of other ginger beers out there, I wouldn’t necessarily make it my first pick.