Cardinal Spirits’ Tiki Rum Earns ‘Best Buy’ From Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Cardinal Spirits’ Tiki Rum Earns ‘Best Buy’ From Wine Enthusiast Magazine


By Mathew Muncy​

Several months ago Cardinal Spirits submitted several of their craft spirits to Wine Enthusiast Magazine for review. Last week, they received word that their Tiki Rum scored a 92 and received the “Best Buy” label.

Cardinal Spirits is a little over a year old, having opened in February 2015 down in Bloomington, Indiana. For a young distillery to earn such high honors is impressive.

A score of 92 is considered “Excellent” by Wine Enthusiast, and when you learn about the amount of work Cardinal Spirits put into making Tiki Rum, then you understand why Wine Enthusiast was so impressed.

“Initially, our inspiration was our bartenders,” Jeff Wuslich, co-founder of Cardinal Spirits, told me. “To do a really great tiki night at our tasting room they wanted a rum, specifically a rum that would go well with cocktails.”

Cardinal Spirits had never made rum before so they teamed up with Indiana University Assistant Professor Matthew Bochman – the yeast whisperer – to conduct experiments. 



​”So we started experimenting with a bunch of different substrates: molasses, cane juice, and sugar, all different substrates,” said Wuslich. “And in the end, we chose two different substrates – evaporated cane juice and molasses – and two types of yeast, one native to the cane plant and a hefeweizen yeast.”

They created two versions of Tiki Rum, released them to their customers, and had the customers vote on which one was better. They sent the winning rum to Wine Enthusiast.

“Aptly named, this rum is tiki-drink ready, for sure. It leads with a pungent banana aroma and distinct tropical fruit flavors—banana, mango, touches of lychee and coconut—with ginger and nutmeg sparks on the finish. It’s not infused with fruit, but all those flavors may have you wondering.”

The description – seen in the paragraph above – was written by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. “Their description of our product was exactly what we were trying to go for…was almost as if we had written it,” Wuslich told me.

Cardinal Spirits submitted three additional spirits to Wine Enthusiast: gin, Songbird Coffee, and Songbird Flora. Wine Enthusiast will review those spirits and release their scores later this year.

You can pick up Tiki Rum, and the rest of Cardinal Spirits craft liquor at 200-plus locations throughout Indiana. Major retailers include Kroger, Big Red Liquors, Schnucks, Meijer, and Crown Liquors. You can also pick them up at the distillery.

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