Pete Stewart and Andy Gemmell
I’m quite partial to a wee glass of rum with my Christmas pudding, as the richness of the spirit sits well with the richness of the dish. Also, rum is a great digestif at the end of a big family meal featuring turkey with all the trimmings, beef wellington or a five-bird roast. And it makes me feel like a pirate.
Rum is one of my favourite spirits (gin, whisky and tequila all vie for the top spot), and there are few things quite as satisfying as a large glass over ice in front of a roaring fire, especially if the weather outside is frightful.
Rum is made all over the world, but its spiritual home is the Caribbean. I would go further and say that Barbados is the true home of this exceptional spirit. This amazing island has rum shops which are essentially grocery stores, domino parlours and rum bars rolled into one. Rum has been called “kill-devil”, “Nelson’s blood” and even “a hot, hellish and terrible liqueur”, but my favourite name for it is “Barbados water”.
In the heat and humidity of the Caribbean, you can expect roughly 8% evaporation per annum from the barrels (the angels’ share) compared to about 2% in Scotland. This results in more rapid ageing of the spirit, so a seven-year-old rum could be equivalent in perceived age to a 15 or 16-year-old malt that has been aged in the slightly less “Caribbean” climate of Scotland.
There is, of course, a major link between rum and the navy. Back in 1731, each sailor was given half a pint of rum as their daily ration.
Plantation Three Star Rum 41.2% ABV (Inverarity One to One, £24.99). This flavoursome white rum has enough character to stand on its own, but is lovely with a splash of coke and a twist of lime.
Doorly’s XO Fine Old Rum 40% ABV (Inverarity One to One, £33.99). Doorly’s XO is aged for a minimum of six years in Barbados and is finished in oloroso sherry casks for extra richness. The quality of the spirit comes from this extra ageing in good quality casks. It is mellow, supple and delicious.