We’ve been commenting on how rum is on the up for a while and this year the curve seems to be arcing steeper, at least if the volume of rum-release emails we’re receiving is anything to go by. And they’re not all coming in from the Caribbean. For this edition of our New Booze Round-up we’re featuring three rums, each with the unusual distinction of being made in Britain…
Dead Man’s Fingers Pineapple Rum, 37.5%
Rum’s attempts to be the new gin are evidenced in the huge variety of flavoured rums arriving on the market. In our experience, apart from myriad spiced rums, there is only one flavour that works consistently well: coconut. But we’re also beginning to believe that pineapple could be a best flavour contender, with Dead Man’s Fingers being the latest to give it a go.
The Dead Man’s Fingers team hail from a crab shack in St Ives, Cornwall (Dead Man’s Fingers are the fingery gills in a crab) but distill their spirit in Bristol. Roasted, caramelised pineapple has been added to this rum, but it’s not as sweet or in-your-face-pineapple as you might imagine. Instead there’s a light pineapple flavour with a few sharp notes and a burnt toffee background that demands to be mixed with something fizzy and lots of ice. Lemonade, ginger beer or one of those tropical flavoured soft drinks that were massively big in the 1980s. Just make it cold and make it long for some terrific hot weather supping.
Silk Road White Spiced Rum, 42%
There’s a lot that’s unusual about this rum. It’s made in London. It’s a spiced white rum. And the six botanicals featured are vapour infused. Like most young white rums it’s best used as a cocktail mixer – sup it neat and the burst of alcohol will jab at your jaw before the spices deliver a knock-out punch. But calm the fire and you’ll notice it’s a much smoother sip, carrying those botanicals through to whatever drink you team it with, spicing up the flavours a treat.
To make it sound even more unusual, we thought it worked well with tonic as a less bitter alternative to gin. And best of all was with flavoured tonics. Where these soft drinks can often kill the subtle flavours of gin, they mixed extremely well with the spices, allowing you to appreciate the flavours of the tonic as well as those of the rum. If you’re a cocktail experimenter then this rum is definitely one for you.
Mainbrace Rum, 40%
Here’s another new rum with a Cornish connection, but to say it hasn’t come in from the Caribbean would be a bit of a lie. It’s a blended rum, dreamt up at The Ferry Boat Inn on the Helford Passage.* The spirits making it into the bottle are two to five year old golden rums from Guyana and an unaged Rhum** Agricole from Martinique.
Rhum Agricoles are less well known in the UK but are the main type of rum in French speaking parts of the Caribbean. Unlike most rums that are distilled from molasses, Agricoles use sugar cane as their source and the resulting booze has a fresh and grassy flavour to it (perhaps unsurprising as sugar cane is a type of tropical grass).
The folk at Mainbrace think this is the first such commercial blend*** of these two rum types and the resulting spirit is certainly different to others you’ll find in the UK. It has a good aged-rum aroma to it with sweet toffee to the fore, while those grassy notes lend the flavour a lighter edge and a dryness to the finish. It’s an excellent neat-sipper – not too challenging for those not used to sipping rum neat – and we are certain it will work well in your rum cocktail favourites, with a splash of fiery ginger being our preferred partner.
*Nick caught his first ever fish on the Helford river, over 40 years ago. A rock wrasse. He was way too young to be drinking so has now celebrated the occasion by raising a rum-toast to the mighty river and all who fish on it. (To see how stunning it is take a look at the pictures on the Mainbrace website)
**French for ‘rum’
***Or ‘splicing’ as they call it, hence ‘splice the mainbrace’