It’s National Rum Day! To celebrate, we’ve come up with a list of some of top tipples from this year ranging from a Colombian rum whose crest is inspired by a national dirty joke, to a stunner of a white rum from the Seychelles.
Takamaka White Rum
Brothers Bernard and Richard d’Offay opened Takamaka Distillery in 2002 after returning to the place of their birth, the Seychelles. Their desire was to create high quality rums based on their grandfather’s recipes that sung the song of the Seychelles and captured that relaxed and easy living.
Using red sugar cane, which has a much higher sugar concentration than its green counterpart, they blend the vesou (sugarcane juice) with molasses-based rum from all over the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean before ageing the mixture for different rums in a French oak, new American oak, old Bourbon and Sherry barrels.
All their products are delicious (the Extra Noir and Spiced both do things to us) however, we tend to judge a portfolio by its white (as we find this is the best way to get a true sense of the quality of the spirit). With Takamaka White, a bit of high ester pot still is added to give it a creamy mouthfeel that works to deliver a balanced and versatile rum.
Syrupy, ripe sultanas, apricot jam and cinnamon spice all come through from the get-go. A olfactory sing-song of hot lazy beach days and chill vibes.
A beautifully clean and surprisingly soft opening that leads into gentle spice and fragrant lemongrass. The end hints at pepper coddled by an almost cake-like fullness.
Super versatile, this is a rum that can be used as a base for most cocktails. We recommend giving it a go neat as well.
£22.95 at The Whisky Exchange. Buy it here.
Find out more about Takamaka from Bernard d’Offay here.
La Hechicera (meaning “The Enchantress”) is a spectacular Hispanic style rum from third generation rum-makers, the Riasco family, that celebrates the spirit of Colombia.
As it is the most biodiverse country in the world, the Riascos wanted to the bottle to depict Colombia’s fertility, covering the surface with illustrations of local botanicals, subtly visible against the alluring darkness of the contained liquid. A classic style but quirkily large azure blue seal is emblazoned with a Praying Mantis – the company’s logo and an insect considered by Colombians to be elegant and beautiful. Her poise and fiery female character – she has a tendency to bite the head off of her mate during copulation – lend themselves to this striking and sophisticated rum. However, not those to take themselves too seriously, brand co-owner Miguel lets us in on the fact that local folklore also states that, if you get bitten by a Praying Mantis, you have to have sex within the next 24-hours otherwise you die – a legend drunk men tend to use at parties a fair bit.
An intense yet smooth aroma of wood from the barrels, a waft of coffee and a decided hint of dark chocolate. After this rich profusion of scents has carried itself through the nose, a tickle of peppermint and a light rip fruit makes itself known.
Gorgeously complex with hefty punches of cinnamon and espresso mixed up with black pepper, chilli and a plum jam.
Supremely, smooth, this can be enjoyed happily on its own. Miguel recommends having your first glass (let’s not kid ourselves, you’ll be having more than one) neat and then adding a cube or two of sugar to the second as it opens the drink up in a different way. If you care to add a cube of ice, this brings out the subtle nuances and softer notes of the rum.
£43.70 at The Drink Shop. Buy it here.
Find out more about La Hechicera from Miguel Riasco here.
Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection 2005
Now, this one’s a bit special. Foursquare Distillery (St Philip’s, Barbados) is the playground of Master Blender, Richard Searle. The distillery produces the core commercial range, Doorly’s, as well as the Exceptional Cask series (which is the one that caught our attention).
All the Exceptional Cask rums are “single blended”, meaning that they are from one location, and are produced in the distillery’s copper, double retort pot still and traditional twin column coffey still. They are also non-chill-filtered and entirely free from caramel colourings, sugar and other flavourings. Their experimental nature means that only a limited number of each of the rums we are about to taste have been made, with new expressions bottled each year as part of the series.
So, why have we gone for the 2005 specifically?
limited to 12,000 bottles, this twelve-year old blends pot and column still but, unlike many of the other expressions, is aged solely in American Oak ex-Bourbon barrels. The result is something pretty spectacular.
Caramel, roasted bananas and rich fruit cake come through, supported by a background barrel char.
Pot still heavy with a good deal of spice, a natural caramel sweetness and plump, dried fruit. Banana is heavily present and fruity dark chocolate can be detected after a few sips. This is a beautifully complex and balanced rum that we could drink a bottle of given half the chance.
Slowly in a Glencairn or similar tulip glass so that you can truly appreciate the drink as it warms and develops. Some may want to add a drop of water to see how this changes the spirit but please don’t water it down too much!
£53.45 at The Whisky Exchange. Buy it here.
Find out more about Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection here.
Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum
A legend in Jamaica and known as Uncle Wray to many, Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum is as much a part of Jamaica as the black, green and gold of the country’s flag. Distilled in Jamaica for over 190 years, this hefty 63% rum is the best-selling high proof rum in the world, and we can see why!
Produced from a combination of pot and column distillation of a 30-hour fermentation of sugarcane molasses wash, the potency of the ABV makes it a definite mixer as opposed to a sipping rum.
After the tentative first sniff (we’ve learned the hard way to be wary of being over zealous then nosing overproof spirits), we notice a surprisingly fruity aroma, with vegetal notes, green banana, cinnamon and molasses.
Banana hits immediately with brown sugar, oaky spice and sharp, slightly bitter orange. The ABV is strong in this one so we add a few drops of water too see if it opens up any further flavours. Overripe bananas come through more heavily and are met with lime, held in check by sugary sweetness. All in all, a very complex mouthful.
By all means, if you can stomach it, give it a go neat but we would recommend it in a tiki-style cocktail or rum punch.
£28.84 at Master of Malt. Buy it here.
Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12-Year-Old
Another Jamaican rum (from the same Chief Blender who bring us Wray & Nephew), Appleton Estate Rare 12-Year-Old is a pot and column still rum blending 12-year to 18-year aged rums in ex-Bourbon barrels with toasted oak chips. This is a good quality, easy-drinking all-rounder.
Thick, nutty and spice-driven, with dried apricots, freshly snapped vanilla and honey. Allspice and nutmeg are combined with the expected cinnamon to create a full-on nose.
Fruiter than expected with an aftertaste of woody cocoa and biscuit, the sip is rich and creamy with orange peel melding with caramel and dark brown sugar. Baked spices throw themselves out at you and jammy apricot is laced with almonds and walnut.
This can be drunk neat, with a cube of ice or in an Old Fashioned.
£35.55 at The Whisky Exchange. Buy it here.