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10 Feb 2017
Posted by Wade

Rum on the Rise

Gin may be on the up, but the recent surge in demand and quality of rum is giving Mother’s Ruin a run for its money.

With quintessential Caribbean flair, it’s a tipple that owes much of its success to its laid-back versatility. Mix it with cola, cordials, even in coffee. Or thanks to its high sugar content, it’s also ideally suited to cocktails like Mojitos, Daiquiris and Mai Tais. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it – rum’s infectious island optimism is bound to leave you smiling.

As Jamie Fleming at Purple Creative puts it, “Rum is a happy drink. It’s not stuffy like cognac, overly traditional like whisky, depressing like gin, or superficial like vodka. It’s made of sunshine.”  He continues, “Finally beginning to outgrow its parties and pirates reputation. It’s a credible, cultural and iconic liquid with amazing historical back stories.” MG_XO_2014_Bottle

Hailing from Barbados, Mount Gay prides itself on being the oldest existing rum company in the world (dating back to 1705).  Their recent introduction of a premium label Black Barrel Rum pays tribute to this spirit’s 300-years-and-counting heritage.  Handcrafted from a blend of single column and double copper pot distillates and matured in toasted oak barrels, the rum is expertly blended by Master Blender Allen Smith. Fittingly, Black Barrel is the only marque that is finished in charred oak barrels.

The result? A bold rum with notes of pepper, spice and wood that provide remarkable body and fullness. On the nose, Black Barrel is a blend of fruit, oaky vanilla and sweet caramel. According to Smith, Black Barrel is “Ready when it’s ready, not before.”  Instrumental in the development of Mount Gay’s award-winning blends, Smith is just one of a new breed of distillers taking rum to the next level.  He elaborates, “Rum blending is an art passed down for generations, and I am honored to continue the tradition and yet have the freedom to innovate and refine with the introduction of Black Barrel.” Jamaica’s Wray & Nephew currently owns the most expensive rum in the world — with just four remaining bottles from the 1940’s going for $40,000 a pop.

Back here in South Africa, a growing number of savvy drinkers have an appetite not only for great rum, but for the great stories behind them too.  Although 80% of all rum is still made in the Caribbean, the sweet spirit is slowly expanding and venturing to new, unlikely places…  Look out for high quality, small-batch craft rums in the not-so-distant future. I suspect we’ll hear, see and taste a lot more from this sweet, dark companion in the years to come.

Written by Wade Bales : This article first appeared in Wanted Online