You’d be forgiven for thinking that all rum is made in the Caribbean, but the reality is that it’s made all over the world, from unlikely places such as Denmark, Japan, and even the decidedly non-tropical Canada. Rum has grown outside its traditional heartland, just as whisky is no longer dominated by Scotland, Ireland and the USA.
But whatever the country, sugar cane is still the key base ingredient, whether it’s in the form of molasses or sugar-cane juice, so you can expect a similar range of flavours, even though the climate may be a tad cooler.
Molasses can be made into almost all styles of rum, from white to golden, dark and spiced, while sugar-cane juice is best suited for making grassy, agricole-style rums, and is also used to make Brazil’s cachaça, one of the most popular spirits in the world. Sebastiana Duas Barricas Cachaça from Alambique Santa Rufina in Brazil is a fine example, an IWSC Silver winner that drew praise for its inviting aromas of vanilla, oak and candied citrus peel.
What’s encouraging about this list of IWSC award-winners is that all 10 hail from a different country, demonstrating how rum is making its mark as a serious spirit. You’ll find agricole-style rums from Thailand and Vietnam, Equiano’s fruit-led rum from England, and bold pot-still rums from Australia and the USA bursting with oak spice and chocolate notes.
Sipped neat, served long or mixed into a cocktail, rum is a fabulously diverse spirit. These are 10 of the best from outside the Caribbean, as reviewed at the IWSC’s 2020 spirits tasting.
Elegant with the soft scent of oak, orange peel and chocolate. There is a bright fruit character to the palate, supported by hints of liquorice, which is well-rounded and lingers on the finish. 43%
Tokyo Night Rum
A rum with true personality, unafraid to be bold and expressive: full, luscious grassy scents and ripe, heady stone fruit, with a fascinating interplay between the complex backbone of earthy sugarcane and hints of delicately spiced stewed mango. 40%
Directors Special Rum
Holey Dollar Rum Distilling Company
Freshly-ground spices lead the aroma profile, complimented beautifully with a warming palate and sweet, dried fruit flavours. Oak is well-integrated and lingers on the long finish. 57.2%
9 Triple 3 Rum
Four Monkey Distillery
Sweet notes of chocolate, vanilla and raisins on the nose with warming ginger, orange and brown sugar following through on the palate. Good complexity and depth of flavour with a persistent finish. 46.7%
Sebastiana Duas Barricas Cachaça
Alambique Santa Rufina
Expressive nose with pronounced notes of vanilla, oak and candied citrus peel. A warming, well-rounded palate with a dry finish that leaves you wanting more. 40%
Bright aromas of orange citrus and baked banana lead to a sweet, fruity palate with subtle wood spice. Plenty of energy on fresh finish infused with pineapple. 40%
Chalong Bay Rum - Pure Series
Premium Thai Brands
Herbaceous, grassy nose with green olive and hints of sugarcane. Light and fruity on well balanced palate with riper tropical fruit flavours. 40%
Bocatheva Venezuela Rum
Subtle oak aromas pave the way for refined flavours of stewed fruits, candied citrus peel and sweet coconut. An enticing finish that leaves you wanting more. 45%
Understated scents of creamy sugarcane and hints of spicy earthiness. On the palate there is strawberry jam and luscious peach sorbet, with a gorgeously sweet finish of raspberries and juicy cherries. 54%
Mas Guatemalan Rum
MAS Group Global LLC
Attractive nose combining fruit, sweet spices and toffee leading to a complex, rich palate of crème brulee with touches of dark chocolate and citrus peel. 40%