As the rum renaissance gathers momentum, Jacopo Mazzeo tastes the latest releases to hit the market
Rhum Depaz, Depaz Grande Réserve XO
The Depaz Estate has been distilling sugarcane spirit in Martinique for some 350 years, but it’s only now entering the UK market with its exceptional range of premium rums. Having clearly been influenced by its former French rulers, Martinique’s distilling tradition has its own appellation – Martinique AOC – according to which only pure sugar cane juice can be used for distillation.
Depaz grows its own sugarcane in the island's north-western volcanic soil and the environment’s high humidity makes for quicker maturations, which in turns adds body. Showing clear signs of terroir, the nose of its rums are consistently fine and clean, while the body is markedly fuller than anything from southern Martinique.
Depaz Grande Réserve XO is the star of the show: a blend of 8yo to 10yo rums with a complex nose of cedar wood, chocolate, liquorice and dark fruits and a soft yet full palate. Depaz Port Cask Finish benefits from similar degrees of complexity, though the use of port casks confers much fruitier aromas, making this bottle very approachable for all palates. The Plantation Aged Rum and the Réserve Spéciale VSOP are expectedly lighter, the first showing delicate notes of vanilla, candied orange peel, white chocolate and coconut, while the second offers toasted tobacco on the nose.
45% abv, POA, Depaz Distillery, 0059 65967 81314
That Boutique-y Rum Company, Travellers Distillery
Most of you know That Boutique-y from its whisky and gin siblings. Given their success, the third bottling venture from Atom Brands – this time focused on rum – comes as no surprise, offering a range of premium and super-premium rums. Instead of distinguishing its rums as 'white', 'golden' and 'dark', the company has categorised the various expressions according to whether they comes from single or multiple distilleries, and the distillation method used.
Its rum from Travellers, for instance, comes from a single distillery in Belize, and is processed in a traditional column still and then aged for 10 years. With no colour adjustment, its appearance is much paler than what many would expect from such an old Caribbean spirit, however, the age really reveals itself on the palate, which is thick, creamy and full bodied. Yummy.
56.1% abv, RRP £52.95/50cl, Maverick Drinks, 01892888443
Bimber Distillery, London Rum
Following the launch of its London Vodka and London Dry Gin at the beginning of the year, Bimber Distillery is ending 2018 with the release of its first white London Rum.
Master-distiller Darius Plazewski ferments high-quality molasses, then uses a combination of column and pot stills for distillation. The resulting spirit, made in small batches of about 700 litres, is bottled unaged.
The nose is grassy, with just a hint of liquorice and black spices, while the palate is creamy and silky and reiterates that herbaceous character, adding a touch of caramel and cocoa beans. Thanks to its crystal clear colour, London Rum is good ingredient for classic rum cocktails, and with its affordable price tag it can compete with major international rum brands.
40% abv, RRP £24.95, Bimber Distillery, 020 3602 9980
Yorkshire Dales Distillery, Intrepid Ram Golden Yorkshire Rum
Founded in early 2017, Yorkshire Dales Distillery offers employment to young people, long-term unemployed, veterans and ex-offenders. It is following up its range of London Dry Gins, all infused with local botanicals, with a flavoured rum.
The process to make Intrepid Ram Golden Yorkshire Rum is not dissimilar to that used for some gins. The Caribbean spirit is redistilled and infused with local honey and heather. It’s then oak-aged at the distillery and subsequently reduced to bottling strength. The infusion adds a delicate floral undertone and a rich, syrupy honeyed palate to warming aromas of sugar, spices and chocolate.
45% abv, RRP £38.95/70cl, Yorkshire Dale Distillery, 017485 18070
World’s End, Spiced Rums
If heather- and honey-flavoured rum isn't quite your bag, the range of spiced rums by new Belgian brand World’s End sounds a lot more archetypal, with piratical imagery, labels bearing vintage navigation maps and a brand name hinting at world exploration. World’s End is in fact a town of Sagres, in Portugal that was considered the end of the known world before the discovery of the Americas.
All five rums within the range are blends of Caribbean spirits and different spices. The Dark Spiced displays flavours of sweet spices and has a velvety, warming palate, while the Tiki Spiced is much crisper, with a marked cinnamon character.
The Falernum is named after a sweet syrup used in the Caribbean and tropical drinks and, as such, is comfortingly sweet, with notes of cloves, ginger, almond and a refreshing citrus finish. The Navy 57 bears the highest strength (57%) and is not spiced; it’s mildly sweet on the palate with good complexity and a punchy finish.
POA, World’s end Rum, email@example.com
Don Papa Rum, Sherry Cask Finish
Travelling to the other end of the globe for the latest release from popular Filipino brand Don Papa, the Sherry Cask Finish is a limited-edition, column distilled rum first, aged for four years in Bourbon barrels then refined for 18 month in Fino, Pedro Ximenez, Cream, and Palo Cortado sherry casks. It is then bottled unfiltered after blending.
The key here is a pungent, dark fruit nose, a strong balsamic character and a powerful warming sensation. The spirit is silky, enveloping, and fully coats the palate. All Don Papa's rums are made with molasses extracted by milling sugarcane grown on the fertile foothills of the active volcano Mt. Kanlaon, on the island of Negros.
45% abv, RRP £68/70cl, Quintessential Brands, 020 7494 3138