Get ready to rum-ble! Why rum might just be this summer’s hottest spirit

  • Wed,17 Jul 2019 08:41:36 AM

Rum is on a roll. Not the ‘party hardy’ white stuff we sink on holiday when we’re feeling free-spirited, tapping into island life and want a dose of the local grog.

We’re talking a shade darker, whether it’s a dark bronze with reddish highlights, a gold as fine as the sand, or a sweet measure that’s exotically spiced with a luxurious richness that’s good for sipping as well as mixing – and really makes you want to champion this pirate spirit.

Bottle of rum and sunglasses on beach with sea in background (iStock/PA)
(iStock/PA)

Rum has, in fact, been growing steadily over the past five years, and is no longer the poor relation of the spirits world. After years in the doldrums, we’re in the midst of a rum renaissance and according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), we bought almost 35 million bottles of the stuff in 2018 (worth more than £1bn), and this golden cargo is being driven by our thirst for flavoured and spiced rums.

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“We’re seeing drinkers explore darker rums with real enthusiasm – our top 25 selling rums are currently all dark, golden or spiced,” says Amy Matthews, senior brand and content manager, 31DOVER.

Punching up

“The best rum producers are getting seriously creative with their branding, putting time and effort into telling the stories behind the drinks, and convincing people of the quality of what’s inside the bottle,” she adds.

Matthews links the growth in rum to rapidly expanding opportunities for drinkers to explore for themselves: “The choice of rum style and origin is more diverse than ever – our five most successful rums include bottles from the Philippines and Cornwall as well as the Caribbean.

 
 
 
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“Thanks to some of the best bars showcasing top rums, drinkers aren’t afraid to experiment with drinking rums in fresh new cocktails, as well as the perennial favourites (Mojito, Dark & Stormy) – and, of course, neat.

Hoxton Banana Rum
(31DOVER/PA)

“The Hoxton Banana Rum (£32.95 for 50cl, 31DOVER) is a great example of a fresh, modern flavoured rum from London,” Matthews continues.

Spytail Black Ginger Rum
(31DOVER/PA)

“And the Spytail Black Ginger Rum (£25.95 for 70cl, 31DOVER) is a French take on warming, spiced ginger rum,” she adds.

Distilled from sugarcane, rum is made all over the world, expressing different types and styles depending on location and local climate. Origin and treatment of the cane, and types and lengths of cask ageing also have a say in the final taste.

Rum spells flavour and heritage and there’s much more to this exotic offering than a retro Piña Colada, or quietly dangerous summer punch. And the trend for flavoured rums is unlocking a whole new world of flavours.

Belgrove Hazelnut Rum
(Belgrove/PA)

“For example – an Espresso Martini is normally made with a plain vodka, but if you make it with hazelnut rum and also add a splash of salted caramel syrup, it takes the drink to a whole new level,” says Edmund Wood, founder of Belgrove Hazelnut Rum (£41.95 for 70cl, Master of Malt).

Belgrove Hazelnut Rum
(Belgrove/PA)

“The rum itself adds a complex yet smooth flavour profile to the drink, the salted caramel brings out the hazelnut, and the espresso pairs with the chocolate undertones in the rum. Just like in the culinary world, when you start to combine complementary flavours you create incredible drinks,” says Wood.

Spice of life

Whether you prefer your rum flavoured or spiced, some rum connoisseurs suggest the idea that ‘rum is the next big thing’ has been headlining for the last eight years.

Jack Denley, brand executive for Spice Hunter, says they saw the opportunity to create a genuinely spiced rum “that once mixed didn’t get washed out, and wasn’t too sweet for a proper spiced rum and cola”.

Spiced Hunter Spiced Rum
(Spice Hunter/PA)

Denley adds: “Instead, the spices could shine with a real rum backbone holding it all together. That’s why we brought authentic, aged Mauritian rum together with 13 spices to create Spice Hunter Spiced Rum, Mauritius (£25 for 70cl, Berry Bros & Rudd), a truly bold spiced rum.”

3 more rums to stir the imagination – warm breezes and swaying palm trees optional…


XO Bajan Estate Rum, Barbados (£24 for 70cl, Marks & Spencer stores)

Distilled in Barbados, where it’s tropically aged in bourbon casks, the rum is then finished and blended in oak brandy barrels in France. Rich in exotic fruits with hints of coconut, candied orange honey and caramel, it’s delightful to sip and has enough depth to hold its own in a cocktail.

Diplomatico Mantuano, Venezuela (£30 for 70cl, Waitrose)

Diplomatico Mantuano Venezuelan rum
(Waitrose/PA)

A luxurious sipping rum and a real treat – rich and rounded with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, buttered caramel, toffee and milk chocolate, polished off with a silky smooth finish. Aged for up to eight years, it replaces Diplomatico’s Reserva Rum and a real taste of the tropics.

Ableforth’s Rumbullion (£35 for 70cl, Asda)

Ambleforth's Rumbullion
(Ambleforth/PA)

Taking its inspiration from Royal Navy ‘Grog Tubs’ with an illustrated barrel on the label, this Caribbean spiced rum (blended in England) is deliciously dark and complex and offers distinct notes of zesty orange, cloves, toffee apples, exotic spices and sweet vanilla notes. Shipshape, it’s wrapped in brown paper, wound with twine, sealed with black wax and tastes rumberlicious!

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