Yo Ho Ho…
Mention the word rum and it’s almost inevitable that images of pirates, desert islands and buried treasure spring to mind.
An association hardly surprising as the drink hails from the islands off Central and South America – the haunt of the real pirates of the Caribbean such as Bluebeard as well as the spectacular backdrop for Hollywood epics starring the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. But delve a little deeper into the history of this delicious spirit and you realise there is so much more to appreciate. During colonial times, plantation owners realised that the dark rich molasses left from sugar production could easily be distilled into a spirit, opening a whole new revenue stream. It was simply a case of adding water and yeast to the molasses, fermenting the mixture and distilling.
There are three classic rum styles – white rum beloved of cocktail waiters around the globe, molasses-rich navy rum, and in between, mellow, golden rum. Each one’s distinctiveness is due to how and where they are produced. Historically, the darker, navy-style rums came from the English-speaking parts of the Caribbean; smoother, golden ones from the Spanish parts. In contrast, the French Caribbean colonies preferred to use sugar-cane juice as opposed to molasses – a product sometimes called Rhum Agricole. The same technique is used in French Indian Ocean colonies such as Réunion, Martinique and Haiti – all producing rhums that change dramatically with age, gaining flavour and character.
Rum and cigars. A combination made in heaven….and Cuba. Havana Club is perhaps the most famous of Cuba’s rums, but it should be remembered that Cuba was the home of Bacardi production from 1862 until Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, a move that saw most production shift to Puerto Rico. The famous art deco Bacardi building is a must see for anyone visiting Havana – instantly recognisable by the ‘Bat’ sculpture that adorns it.
Spiced Golden Rum
The Golden Rum sub category now accounts for 42% of total on-trade rum sales – worth £217m according to the latest CGA data (total on-trade 24/1/15) – and share is increasing. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold is now a top 10 on-trade brand, worth £23m to the on-trade (CGA-MAT value 21/2/15).
In decline on both sales and volume fronts since before 2012, a number of brands have launched new products to revitalise sales, with Captain Morgan White Rum’s £1m+ promotional campaign being a prime example.
The original strength of rum served on-board British Naval ships was 57%, Wood’s being the only Demerara rum still bottled at this abv. Despite its strength, slow aging creates a very smooth, mellow taste.