It seems that rum is finally fulfilling long-held expectations by being the next big thing in spirits, as consumers look for exciting new places to go after gin.
One interesting micro-trend is a rise in British rums, either blended in the UK by enthusiasts buying casks from overseas, or those taking raw ingredients to create something completely fashioned on home soil.
None other than legendary London spirits emporium Gerry’s, in Soho, has reported a surge in interest in British rums this year.
The emergence of new rum producers and brands plays into two bigger trends: the rising demand in craft spirits as a whole, and the interest in “local”, which has played out in numerous food and drink trends, including, notably, gin and beer.
Nigel Huddleston introduces a quintet of British producers who spell out what makes their rums stand out from the crowd.
Starting from …
Scratch rum is, as the name suggests, made completely from scratch in the UK.
Doug Miller of the company says: “Our climate, being cooler, means that fermentation and maturation happens differently.
“This impacts flavour profile and enables us to create a rum full of a broader spectrum of flavours – in our case, typically fruitier and sweeter in nature.
“We’re super-transparent about our processes and don’t add anything post-distillation – an area that the wider rum industry has come under scrutiny for previously.”
Scratch uses a number of different spirit and wine casks for a variety of flavour profiles in its limited releases.
“Our Faithful and Botanical rums work amazingly well in a simple Daiquiri,” says Miller. “Our Golden goes great in a Jungle Bird [made with Campari and pineapple juice] and our aged Patience rum works well on its own or in a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.”
Variety through spice
Scotland’s John Paul Jones is a Lowland rum that, says co-founder Finnian Gill, was created to “challenge the predispositions of the flavoured and spiced rum category”.
Gill adds: “We age it in first-use, charred American oak, which is pretty rare, and then steep it in three botanical ingredients – ginger root, black peppercorns and hand-picked Scottish seaweed – all fresh and at food grade.
“We add no colouring, artificial flavours or sugar, which creates a balanced, drier and more honest spirit.
“It is incredibly versatile, delicious in a rum and tonic and in a rum Old Fashioned.”
Cabal takes its name from a panel of consumers and rum experts who taste and approve selections of Caribbean and South American rums to go into blends created by Harpalion Spirits of Edinburgh.
Founder Claire Kinloch says: “Our first expression, Cabal No 1513, is an aged rum that is a combination of pot and column distillation techniques, with rums that have been carefully selected from prominent distilleries in Guatemala, Guyana, Trinidad, Panama and the Caribbean, tropically aged at origin.
“The liquid is then finished in Pedro Ximénez casks in Speyside, creating a distinctive and complex, yet smooth taste profile,” which is, she adds, “perfect for sipping neat, and offering an ideal base for a wide range of long drinks and cocktails”.
Scouring the universe
Dark Matter is a spiced rum assembled in Aberdeenshire from the best ingredients from around the world, including Oriental ginger, Thai green peppercorns, Indonesian long pepper and South American allspice berries.
What is very much “a hands-on, batch process” creates “an explosive flavour profile”, according to owner Jim Ewen: “a distinctively rich, decidedly different and literal interpretation of spiced”.
Ewen adds: “Creating a humdrum spiced rum was never the plan. Dark Matter is the perfect accompaniment to a ginger ale for a Dark and Stormy. It’s simple to make and you don’t need a degree in mixology.
“While a spiced rum isn’t traditionally a sipping rum, it’s purely down to personal choice and many drink Dark Matter straight.”
A bespoke, warming, Christmas serve involves the addition of cider and traditional mulling spices for a Mull It Over, garnished with apple and star anise.
The perfect marriage
Mainbrace golden rum positions itself as “born in Cornwall, sourced in the Caribbean”.
“It stands out as it is made from a blend of two distinctive styles of rum that have never been bottled together before: English navy rum from Guyana and French agricole rhum from Martinique,” says co-founder Richard Haigh.
“Our Navy Strength is made from the same blend, but at a 54.5% abv rather than 40%.”
Its signature serve for the 40% rum is with tonic and a slice of orange.
“For Navy Strength, we would recommend a combination of lime juice and Mainbrace, garnished with a slice of lime. More adventurous cocktail makers could also make our Espresso Rumtini – Mainbrace, butterscotch, coffee, Kahlua and caramel syrup, garnished with an orange twist.”