A bottle of rum contains the promise of sunshine.Unlike its leading liquid competitors, rum is produced and aged in tropical climates. We are not talking about the foggy Scotland or Ireland, or the bleak, wet winters of France’s Cognac region. No. Fair weather reigns when it comes to making rum, weather on Caribbean islands, in Latin America or Northern South America, or on pacific islands like Reunion or Mauritius.
All of these places have won weather’s golden ticket, providing ideal growing conditions for sugarcane, rum’s raw material. Rum was first produced in the Caribbean during the 17th century. It was first mentioned in writing in Jamaica in 1751, when the governor mentioned “rumbullion” which means strong liqueur in his diaries.
Until the 1970, sailors in Britain’s Royal Navy famously received a daily rum ration or tot. Since then, thousands of ships have crossed the Atlantic, bringing a range of rums to Europe and across the world.
Beyond raging and blending styles, these rums vary in whether they are produced from sugarcane molasses or directly from sugarcane juice itself. In addition, every region and producer has its unique production process, including how the spirit is distilled and where or for how long it is aged.
Last but not least, rums can be blended or bottled unblended. Over the past few years, bars have begun to stock a vast array of unusual and previously unfamiliar liquors.
Rum lovers, who had previously flown somewhat under the radar, started wondering whether rum would soon follow in the steps of whisky and gin to become the latest trend.
But in any case, the cascade of readily available rums inspired us to contact some of the world’s top bar keepers to find out which ones were their picks for best quality at the best price.
We sought out the experts at Taylors Tobacconists of Bond Street Brighton to learn about their favourites. Our choices were, to some extent, dependent on personal taste and grounded in research. I like rum varieties that are impressive, but not too sweet. They can be okay and intense, but should never remind me of a liqueur. Taylors says rums that have been supplemented to boost colour, sugar level or aromatics. The barkeep prefers a simple, authentic and honest tipple, such as the Cuban Selection de Maestros from Havana Club.
He admires its rich aromas of coffee and sherry that linger on the palate despite the rum’s relative dryness. Rum is a sublime blend that can be stored and fermented for as long as 13 years to give a wonderfully balanced and absolutely off the hook taste.
The New Diplomatic Mantuano from Venezuela checks off all the boxes for decent rum at a great price. It is remarkably full bodied, with a lovely, lasting sweetness.
Rums from Panama are proof that the country has more to offer than just negative headlines. To mention the seven year old Ron Abuelo Reserva Superior, with its energetic notes of caramel and vanilla. But it’s Aguna Prabowo, of Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental, who introduces us to the winner, the award winning barkeeper and connoisseur top pick is the 12 year old El Dorado Special Reserve from Guyana, which also got frequent mention for our other interviewees.
It is a dry, slightly sweet rum that works well in many cocktails. I like to serve it instead of rye or Cognac. He also enjoys the rum served straight, at room temperature.
As we discovered, the world of rum is wide-ranging, diverse and exciting. Perhaps unlike any other spirit, an excellent rum , with its surprising taste sensation and lingering fragrance, can transport you to a different place – its joie de vivre and sunshine in a glass.
For more information on rum, please do not hesitate to contact us today.