125 THE RUM BOOM Vic­to­ria Moore ex­plains why flavoured rums are on the up

Bri­tain has fallen in love with rum – and we’re even mak­ing our own

BBC Good Food - - Inside - Vic­to­ria Moore @how_­to_­drink @plan­etvic­to­ria

Yo, ho, ho and a bot­tle of sweet and smoky Ron Za­capa Cen­te­nario Sis­tema Sol­era 23 from Gu­atemala, aged in bour­bon and sherry casks and a cool £53 per award-win­ning bot­tle. Talk of a rum boom has been go­ing on for two decades, but now it’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing. UK rum sales broke the £1 bil­lion mark for the first time last year, just 12 months af­ter gin passed the same mile­stone. And we’re drink­ing more of the good stuff: rum sales have risen by 18% in vol­ume in the last five years, but by 38% in value.

The most pop­u­lar style is white rum – the clear spirit that nineties bar­tenders used in a squil­lion minty mo­ji­tos – but it’s dark, golden and spiced or flavoured rums that are driv­ing the growth, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the Wine and Spirit Trade As­so­ci­a­tion.

Flavoured rum isn’t new: in the Caribbean, ‘is­lan­ders have been adding spices, and things that range from com­mon fruit to fish, in­sects and even raw meat to fresh rum for cen­turies,’ writes Ed­ward Hamil­ton on his Min­istry of Rum site. Fun­nily enough, none of the big rum dis­tillers have tried to mar­ket rum with raw meat – but there are plenty of spiced rums around (the recipes are usu­ally pro­pri­etary, but think clove, cin­na­mon and vanilla), as well as flavours such as gin­ger (as in Ja­maica Cove’s Black Gin­ger Rum) and pineap­ple (the best is Plan­ta­tion Pineap­ple Stig­gins’ Fancy, around £35 from spe­cial­ist spir­its re­tail­ers). With its hints of mo­lasses, vanilla and sun­shine, I tend to think of rum as a sum­mer drink – but if you’re pour­ing a rum that’s been aged in oak un­til it’s golden or dark, why not sip it by a roar­ing fire as a di­ges­tif, as you would a fine brandy or whisky? Try Di­plomático Reserva Ex­clu­siva (£41.50, Waitrose) or El Do­rado 12 Year Old (£36.50, Ocado). Then, of course, there are cock­tails. I re­cently read that bar­tender and tiki expert Jeff ‘Beach­bum’ Berry spent a year work­ing on his daiquiri. A year! That’s how long some peo­ple spend on their doc­toral the­sis. Any­way, his con­clu­sion was that the best daiquiri rum is dry, white and above 80-proof (above 40% al­co­hol con­tent by vol­ume). I rec­om­mend Plan­ta­tion Three Stars (£25, Marks & Spencer). How­ever (sorry, Jeff), when the nights get longer, I like a daiquiri made with a richer rum for a cosier feel – try Ha­vana Club Añejo 7 (£20.50, Sains­bury’s). Nowa­days you can even find Bri­tish-made rums on the mar­ket. Try the va­ri­eties made by Es­sex-based dis­tillery English Spirit, whose founder, John Wal­ters, im­ports mo­lasses as a key in­gre­di­ent. Wal­ters drinks his rum neat but, for a more au­tum­nal feel, rec­om­mends mix­ing rum and fresh ap­ple juice with a lot of cracked ice – ‘it makes a lush aper­i­tivo’.

Vic­to­ria Moore is an award-win­ning wine colum­nist and au­thor. Her most re­cent book is the The Wine Dine Dic­tio­nary (£20, Granta).

Fun­nily enough, none of the big dis­tillers have tried to mar­ket rum with raw meat – but there are lots of spiced op­tions

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