Rum isn’t really one of the products at the forefront of the spirit world. Whisky has a huge following and a big number of dedicated enthusiasts, while vodka is a fairly common option in bars around the world, and gin is building up a more and more “trendy” image.
Rum however isn’t a spirit you often hear getting discussed, but its contribution to the drinks sector is probably quite undervalued.
So, what actually is rum?
While other spirits are made from distilling particular grains, rum is made differently. Distillation is still a key part of the process, but it’s what is distilled that is the difference. Sugarcane juice and other sugarcane by-products such as molasses, are distilled to create rum, before the mixture is matured in barrels.
The origins of rum date back thousands of years, with the Malay people known for creating a sugarcane beverage known as Brum. However, the first distillation of the rum we know didn’t occur until the 17th century, when slaves of Caribbean sugarcane plantations discovered they could ferment molasses into alcohol.
Now, the rum trade is bustling, with many distilleries producing their own takes on the historic beverage. There are many different types of rum – some are infused with flavours while some are flavourful enough on their own.
Types of rum
There are many styles and variations of rum, mostly signalled by their colour. White rum is at one end of the scale, and has the milder flavours. Bacardi is a prime example of white rum, and it’s the type of rum most often used in cocktails such as the Pina Colada.
Continuing through the scale of rums, we have Gold rum, the colour coming from the spirits maturation in barrels, providing more flavour. Black rum is at the other end of the scale, with the richest and most heavy bodied rums being very dark in colour. The colour comes from the rum retaining a lot of the rich molasses used in the distillation process.
There’s also a range of spiced and flavoured rums, often with a variety of different ingredients added to achieve the ultimate flavour. Coconut is a common flavoured rum, while other ingredients such as cinnamon and ginger are often used to put the spice into spiced rum.
Here’s some of the rums we stock at The Spirits Embassy
Scotland is well known for being the home of whisky, with a huge number of distilleries producing it across the country. As well as several big, well known whisky brands being based in Scotland, there’s a number of smaller, historic distilleries found in the highlands and on remote islands off the coast. But when it comes to rum?
Well, there’s only one dedicated rum distillery in Scotland: Dark Matter Distillers have been producing rum since 2015, with the Dark Matter Spiced Rum their key produce. Dark Matter is described as “the taste equivalent of warping into a liquid black hole but without every atom in your body being crushed to an infinitely small point”. Dark Matter is produced from molasses and water, but has an added spice in there, to produce a flavour that has notes of pepper and ginger.
Dark Matter may have the only dedicated rum distillery in Scotland, but that hasn’t stopped Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Ltd from winning some prestigious awards in the rum sector. In February 2017, they picked up two major rum awards from highly respected magazine The Spirits Business.
There are three different types of rum produced by Duncan Taylor available at The Spirits Embassy. The most recent, Guatemala Darsa, was distilled in 2007 at the DARSA distillery in Guatemala, a sugarcane distillery owned and operated by the Botran family for several decades. The resulting rum has a gold colour, a beautiful, sweet scene, a smooth and syrupy taste, and a long-lasting, sweet, creamy finish.
Another rum in the range is Duncan Taylor’s Fiji Rum, distilled in 2003. It comes from the South Pacific Distillery in Lautoka, Fiji, which opened in 1981, and because of being a pot still distillate matured in rich bourbon barrels, has real depth of character and wonderful aromas. The aromas are reminiscent of cinnamon and bark, while there’s a warm, creamy flavour of lime cardinal, cucumber, coconut and milk powder.
Last but not least is the Duncan Taylor Jamaica Rum, distilled in 2000 and matured in specially selected casks to create a classic, bold and flavour filled rum.
For something a bit different, we also stock a whisky that packs a rum finish. BenRiach’s 15 Year Old whisky is first matured in American bourbon casks, but is then finished in former Jamaican Rum barrels, with the flavour of the rum intertwining with the whisky.
How to enjoy rum
As with all spirits, rum can be enjoyed neat – maybe with ice, or some water added depending on taste. However, it’s also great for mixing with other drinks. A rum and coke is quite a common order in bars, and it is of course a fantastic ingredient for a range of cocktails. Most famously, rum is a key part of a Pina Colada, but is also found in the Mai Tai, the Zombie, a variety of different flavoured Daiquiris and the mint and lime flavoured Mojito.
And that’s rum! As mentioned earlier, it’s probably one of the more undervalued and less talked about spirits, but it has a fascinating background that travels back through centuries of history, and to this day is still a staple addition to a number of popular, tasty drinks. Sweet? Spicy? White? Dark? Rum has it all.