It’s National Rum Day and we’re celebrating by taking a look back at some of our favourite new finds of the year so far. From slow sippers to heady cocktail ingredients, we’ve had a great time delving deeper into the rum scene and have come up with a couple of beauties we think it’s worth knowing about.
Dry Spiced Rum | 38.5% ABV
Normally when we hear the term “spiced rum”, we shrink away in fear of sickly sweet spirits that belong buried deep within a Coke. However, spiced rums actually have an important history within the rum making worlds with most old Caribbean rums having traditionally benefited from the adding of fruits and spices. Whilst the sub-category may have a lot to recover in terms of reputation since their recent commercialisation, there are a few brands out there that are definitely worth sitting up and taking note of. One such, is Cargo Cult.
Blending rums from Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, before being spiced, Cargo Cult is a true Oceanian spirit. Unlike most spiced rums out there it isn’t drowned in fake vanilla essence and sugar, instead it is full of “real” tasting spice. Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, gingerbread and banana bread create a deliciously rounded base with flame grilled pineapple, gentle florals and butterscotch sauce adding top notes. The rum itself with its supple leather and oak comes through too as the spice mix isn’t overpowering.
This is very much what spiced rum should be and it works wonders with a light ginger ale such as Fever-Tree.
A First Release Blended Colombian Rum | 58.4% ABV
This is the first bottling of Casa Santana Colombian rum from the brilliantly nerdy and exceptionally in-the-know That Boutique-y Rum Company. Tropically matured for 12 years and utilising multi-column still rums from multiple different distilleries, this is an unusual and fruit-forward bevvy full of buttery notes, salted caramel, creamy banana pie, gingerbread and baking spices. What’s more, at £29.95 it’s incredibly well-priced. Only 3,766 bottles have been released so far so best get a move on if you want to try it.
That Strong-Ass Rum you want in your Cocktails | 63% ABV
This should come with a warning, so here it is. Unless you’re a massive fan of Jamaican Overproof’s strength and heady flavours (think Uncle Wray & Nephews), do not attempt to drink this neat! We’ve seen some things… However, if you love super dynamic and boozy cocktails, Rum-bar White Overproof is simply a must have addition to your home bar.
A blend of three, 100% pot still, unaged rums, it has a powerful nose and is even more full-on on the palate neat. A bit of water opens it up to reveal freshly mowed grass and almost agricole vegetation, passion fruit, papaya, overripe banana and crisp apple. However, Rum-Bar truly comes into its own when used in classic tropical cocktails or paired with fruit juice. If you’re not the best at making cocktails, have no fear; the complexity of Rum-Bar’s flavours sings through pretty much anything you put it in and its innate fruitiness is brilliantly highlighted by fresh juice. Just remember that this bad boy is 63% ABV, so be careful with your measures!
Rare Single Blended Barbados Rum | 56% ABV
An exclusive bottling (only 2,520 available worldwide) for The Whisky Exchange, Hereditas is a hefty stunner with a bold tropical palate bursting with raisins, ripe banana, toffee, fruit cake, vanilla and cloves. Matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks, the Sherry is dominant, with an underlying woody char from the Bourbon tangible after deep nosing. There is so much fruit and spice on the palate that it feels like it will ever end. However, when a conclusion is reached, it comes in the form of earthy depth with chocolate-covered sultanas and star anise.
This is an absolute beaut of a premium rum and a true bargain at £79.95 (remember, there are only 2,520 that will ever be made – if this were a whisky, it would be well into the £100s per bottle)!
Funky Jamaican Pot Still Rum Done Right | 46% ABV
This year, we fell head-over-heels in love with Hampden Estate Rum. Based in Jamaica, it is one of the oldest estates in the Caribbean and has been running continuously since it was founded in 1753. It has maintained the same production methods and techniques for the last two centuries and specialises in making heavy pot still rums full of intense flavour and that sweet vegetal funk that Jamaican rums are famous for.
This expression holds a special place in our hearts as it was the first Hampden we ever tried. A historic release collaboration with legendary bottler Velier, this wild ferment, high-ester, tropically matured number is packed full of spiced banana, passion fruit, caramalised pineapple, papaya, guava, ripe blood orange, nectarine and freshly squeezed lime. There is so much going on that you could easily sit with it for hours and keep finding new flavours coming to the surface. Whilst full of funky fruit, it is not a super sweet rum and effortlessly balanced a creamy mouthfeel with something dark and oily in texture.
It is a true revelation and a perfect example of Jamaican pot still rum done to the highest of standards. What’s more, it’s also well-priced at £59.95. It’s punchier sibling, Hampden Estate Overproof Rum, that weighs in at 60% ABV is also a godsend and well worth it if you’re willing to pay a little extra.
This list only scratches the surface of the beautiful world of rum and is a tiny snapshot of what we have borne witness to so far this year. Stay tuned for a lot more exciting rum news! In the meantime, if you’re looking for places to try all these gorgeous spirits before purchase, check out our Best Rum Bars in London!