Atom Brands has launched That Boutique-y Rum Company (TBRC), offering aged rums and long-lost distillery classics, as well as the curveball that’ll challenge consumer perceptions about the category.
Rum expert Peter Holland, who helped source and select the products, told Imbibe that TBRC is keen to expand people’s horizons in terms of the spirit, both geographically and in terms of taste profiles.
‘We’re bringing some expressions to market that people won’t have tried unless they happen to have been to that country or are very specialist collectors,’ he said. ‘We’re trying to show that the world of rum is perhaps bigger than people realise, and while some will taste familiar, others might be more challenging.’
The initial offering of nine rums, which ranges from unaged to 27yo expressions, is all single distillery with runs of around 400 bottles each. They have been sourced from places such as the Caroni Distillery in Trinidad, Monymusk in Jamaica and Diamond Distillery in Guyana, as well as producers hitherto unknown in the UK, such as O Reizinho in Madeira, Portugal, which has produced an unaged agricole rum.
‘Age isn’t necessarily the driver, it’s about balance and how it tastes,’ Holland explained. ‘When you try something, especially agricole, which is fresh-pressed cane juice rather than molasses, then you actually have a chance to taste the cane, so this is, in some respects, more like an eau de vie.
‘The quality of the spirit tastes good off the still and you’re enjoying the spirit for what it is. Here in the UK, we don’t have a history of that – we’re all about molasses-based rums, because of our Jamaican and Barbadian connections.’
Keen to offer the full diversity of styles, the only thing Holland is adamant the TBRC range will not include is sweetened, flavoured products, in order to the ‘let the character of the rum shine through’. He is also keen to tackle the notion that darker rums are necessarily older.
‘There’s a Jamaican rum that’s 13yo and very pale coloured and I can guarantee that [other bottlers] would add a bit of caramel to make it look its age,’ he said. ‘But we haven’t, we trust our sources and know that colour doesn't equal flavour.
‘Examples like this help people get over the notion that somehow colour is important. I mean, it’s easy on the eye, but it doesn’t necessarily change anything on the palate.’
The team behind TBRC is keen to offer maximum transparency in terms of its rums and their production methods. Inspired by the Gargano Classification System, it has devised its own system of simple, uncoded descriptors to explain whether the rum is from single or multiple distilleries (all single in this instance) and the type of still used.
‘It’s trying to get away from the notion that rums are either white, gold or dark, because as I said colour isn’t a flavour and it doesn’t help you understand what’s in your glass,’ Holland said.
‘If you know what the rum is made from and how it was distilled, you can start building up an understanding of why things taste the way they do, then you can further categorise them further by saying that if it’s a Barbados style it’ll tend to be lighter than Jamaican, and so on.
‘If you want straight-forward tasting notes, you can find them online, but this is to allow people to explore and develop a better understanding of the category as a whole.’
That Boutique-y Rum Company will be developed in line with That Boutique-y Whisky Company with further expressions already in the pipeline. So where will TBRC be looking for its next offerings?
'We've got a lot more countries to come – there's Thailand, Mauritius, as well as traditional Caribbean rum-producing locations,' Holland said. 'There're a few [distilleries] here in the UK as well, it doesn't have to be a distillery that's been going for 200 years – if the juice tastes good, then that's enough.'
Prices from £32.95/50cl, Maverick Drinks