By Heather | September 2nd 2020
No spirit screams summertime quite so loudly as Rum. Mostly produced in Caribbean and American Countries, Rum is synonymous with white sandy beaches, clear blue seas and warm tropical weather. Made by fermenting and distilling sugarcane molasses, juice or honey, the distillate is often then aged in oak barrels to impart colour and flavour. Rum can be enjoyed straight, mixed or in a huge variety of tasty cocktails or cooling punches and is the ideal drink to enjoy on a warm summer’s evening.
So here, in no particular order, is a look at some of the best Rums we have to offer:
Rumbullion! 42.6% ABV
The recipe is a closely guarded secret but we do know that Ampleforth’s Rumbullion! is a blend of fine Caribbean rum, Madagascan vanilla, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and a hint of cardamom.
You may already be familiar with Ampleforth’s Bathtub Gin, and Rumbullion! Is presented in a similarly branded fashion. It comes in a brown paper wrapped bottle with newsprint style story of the spirit’s origin. The cap is black wax dipped and the overall aesthetic is very Victorian or Steampunk in nature. Will look eyecatching on any barback or bottle collection.
The liquid is a deep red-brown and the nose is quite sweet and potent with plenty of citrus zest, notes of vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.
On the palate, this is one of the big boys in terms of spice. There is plenty of orange fruit, ginger and winter spices reminicent of mulled cider or wine. Definitely a warming rum for the colder months rather than fruity summer cocktails. The finish is well spiced with a dry citrus note.
Rumbullion would be great with a tropical fruit juice as a summer cooler and even better added to a warming winter mulled drink.
Don Papa 40% ABV
Made in Sugerlandia in the Philippines, Don Papa is a small batch premium rum made from the finest quality sugar cane and aged in small oak barrels.
The rum is a tribute to Papa Isio, a freedom fighter in the late 1800’s. The graphic of “Don Papa” on the label was inspired by this historical figure who helped secure the island’s independence. The labelling is a muted plate print in blue and red and is reminiscent of an old bank note.
The rum is a rich red brown with strong aromas of sweet vanilla and cherry fruit on the nose and hints of candied fruit and spice.
Perfect for those with a sweet tooth. On the palate there is sweet warming vanilla from the oak ageing process, sugary candied fruit and cherry bakewell notes. The finish is warm, sweet and fruity with hints of warming spice.
Very tasty served over ice with a well chilled premium cola and a maraschino garnish to bring out the sweet cherry fruit flavours.
Thameside Signature Blend 40% ABV
This rum is the first spirit to be released from the relatively new Thameside Rum company which was opened in 2018. It is an “English style” (Which I’m taking to mean Navy style) blend of the finest Carribean rums from Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica.
The bottling is fairly minimalist, a heavy bottomed, clear, bell jar style bottle with cork stopper and clean modern labelling. No frills, no fuss.
The liquid is a paler golden brown. Obviously no colourings have been added to emulate the darker hue of a traditional Navy rum. On the nose there are aromas of brown sugar, banana, toffee and woody smoky notes.
There is plenty of flavour, with heaps of fruit, sultana and raisin, toffee and brown sugar coming through. Well balanced with some oak and a wisp of smoke. The finish is satisfyingly long with hints of oaky vanilla and brown sugar sweetness.
Thameside signature blend makes a really delicious rum and coke, but is just as enjoyable as a sipper, either neat or over ice.
Diplomatico Mantuano 40% ABV
Named for the Nobleman on the bottle. Diplomatico Mantuano was introduced in late 2016 as the replacement for Diplomatico’s Reserva rum (much to my Reserva customer’s annoyance! Some people just hate change). Mantuano is aged for up to 8 years, made from molasses and sugar cane honey and is a blend of column, batch and pot still rums.
Similarly bottled to it’s predecessor, the stubby bottle and orange labelling remain. Designers for Mantuano have chosen to enlage the graphic of Don Juancho, a Venezuelan nobleman, passionate rum enthusiast and famous spirit collector. The presentation is eyecatching and unmistakably Diplomatico.
The rum is a rich, dark reddish brown. On the nose there is a light sweetness with buttery biscuit aromas and a hint of nuttiness.
The flavour is naturally sweet, light hints of spice and some honeyed fruit with a touch of oaky vanilla. The finish is sweet, with subtle notes of toffee and soft vanilla spice.
Ideal in a rum based summer cocktail served with plenty of ice.
Dark Matter Spiced Rum 40% ABV
The Dark Matter distillery was the first rum producing distillery in Scotland. The distillery opened in 2015, so Scotland has rather shockingly only been making rum for five years! It’s not that we’re lacking in distilleries here, it’s just that the majority are rather preoccupied with Whisky. The Rum is made in a pot still and heavily spiced with ginger, green peppercorn, long pepper and allspice.
Dark Matter’s tagline is “Curiosity drives us while science inspires us” and nowhere is that quite so apparent as in the choice of presentation. The bottle would look at home in any laboratory, the shape and silver cap is reminiscent of the chemical storage bottles and the labelling is minimalist and almost medical looking.
The liquid is a dark brown with an orangey tint, on the nose it is heavily spiced with dominant ginger, allspice and cloves on a peppery background.
On the palate, the spices are obvious but well balanced, the rum is sweet but not artificially so. Very warming and peppery with almost mulling levels of spice, cloves and allspice to the fore. The finish is very slightly bitter with plenty of heat from the peppercorns but no alcoholic “burn”.
Dark matter could be enjoyed neat almost like a liqueur as it has a similarly heavy mouthfeel, or with a firey ginger beer mixer.
Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced Rum 37.5% ABV
First lauched in 2015, Dead Man’s fingers spiced rum was originally only available to patrons of The Rum and Crab Shack in St Ives, Cornwall where the rum is produced. They have since chosen to launch nationally and have added other flavour profiles such as coffee, pineapple and passionfruit to their portfolio. The spiced offering is a small batch blend of rum and spices “inspired by local flavours such as saffron cake, spiced fruit and the crab shack’s own Pedro Ximinez ice cream”.
The branding is very smugglers cove, the skull logo is tailor made for funky branded tshirts and promotional products and will appeal to a younger audience. I love a skull and made a beeline for this stall at the last rum festival I attended, I had never tried the rum previously, but the branding stood out. The black and gold bottle is simple but eyecatching and the skull logo and “cornish soul” tagline embossed into the glass look impressive.
The rum is a dark red- brown with plenty of sweet vanilla on the nose, warm cinnamon spice, toffee and candied citrus peel.
Flavour-wise there are hints of saffron, cinnamon, brown sugar, subtle vanilla and caramel. The citrus flavours really come to the fore with an almost marmalade like quality. The finish is sweet and warming with hints of soft vanilla and cinnamon spice.
Ideal for a fruity rum based summer cooler.
Appleton Estate Signature Blend 40% ABV
This is the flagship rum from Appleton, blended in Jamaica from 15 specially selected rums and aged for an average of 4 years. The master blender at Appleton is Joy Spence who was the industry’s first female master blender, gaining the title in 1997.
The branding of Appleton rums is unmistakable, with an almost guitar shaped curvy bottle, The labelling features a painting of a mountain range in the background of a sugar cane plantation and offers very little information other than the essentials. No fairytale origin story here.
The liquid is an orangey golden brown with potent sweet molasses and black pepper on the nose with hints of warming vanilla and ginger.
On the palate the rum is initially subtle but soon warms up with black pepper, chili and ginger spices. I’m always a little surprised that there’s no apple to be found in Appleton’s rum. Shows how suggestive a name can be… The finish is long and warming with hot spicy black pepper notes.
Try it with lime in a cuba libre.
Black Sails Spiced Rum 40% ABV
Black sails is a carbon negative rum from the Two Drifters Distillery in Devon. The distillery uses sustainable practices to ensure their production is environmentally friendly. The company prides itself on making rum from scratch and their carbon negative production, whereby they remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they create. Black sails is a 100% molasses based, pot still, spiced rum with vanilla, mixed spice and star anise.
The name “Black sails” for me, conjured up images of pirate ships, think Captain Jack on the Black Pearl… but no, it seems the black sails belong to sailing boats off the Devon coastline. It’s still a very pretty bottle, simple and classic with an almost tranquil feel to the image on the label.
The liquid is a reddish orange brown, on the nose there is a sweet hit of vanilla, warming spices and aniseed.
Flavours of honeyed tropical fruit, spiced fruitcake and banana bread alongside brown sugar, molasses and warm vanilla and mixed sweet spice. The finish is satisfyingly long with warm vanilla, honeycomb and hints of star anise.
This is best enjoyed on the rocks, but would make a great addition to a fruity rum punch.