New British rums that pack a punch
Gone are the days when a daily tot of rum was an official ration for sailors in the Royal Navy. But with a huge surge in sales during the pandemic, the spirit is on the rise again – and this time it’s British brands making waves.
Given the success of the recent gin revolution in the UK, with sales exceeding £1 billion, it is perhaps unsurprising that UK producers have now turned their attention to rum.
But there is a big difference. Gin is made from cereals, which are widely grown in the UK. Rum, on the other hand, is made from sugar cane, which is typically grown in tropical climates.
To circumvent this problem, some UK producers import ingredients such as molasses, while others import ready-made rums and blend, flavor or age them to create their own styles.
Helen McGinn gives her verdict on a selection of the best UK rums worth mixing or just sipping – including Retribution White Rum, 44% abv (pictured)
Currently, there are around 20 UK distilleries making rum, and with more UK gin distilleries joining the rum party, the number of UK blends is set to increase.
So which British rums are worth mixing or just sipping? Femail’s drinks expert, Helen McGinn, picks out some of Britain’s best food…
Retribution White Rum, 44 percent abv, £34.95 for 70cl, thewhiskyexchange.com
From a Somerset distillery, this small-batch white rum is made in a traditional copper pot still from molasses (rather than sugarcane juice, another way of making rum).
It’s unaged, which means it hasn’t spent any time in a cask or barrel, and as soon as you put your nose in the glass, you get a burst of sweetness followed by warm cookie flavors in mouth. Smooth enough to sip on its own but also fabulous in a daiquiri. Pop the bottle on its side to reveal the ship inside! 9/10
Sweet but seductive
Trash & Treasure Spiced Botanical Rum, 40 percent abv, £32 for 70cl, warnersdistillery.com
Helen said Trash & Treasure Spiced Botanical Rum, 40% abv (pictured) is utterly delicious, balanced with both sweetness and bitterness
Made by award-winning gin producer Tom Warner, this is an unusual take on rum (his other signature drink).
Using discarded citrus peel, overripe bananas and dandelions, he flavors Jamaican White Rum by distilling it in a pot still with the botanicals, then macerating it (the soak-softening process) with more botanicals to color the liquid.
The result is crazy but quite delicious, balanced between sweetness and bitterness. Serve over ice and garnish with ginger beer and a lime wedge.7/10
Perfect pina colada
Scratch Golden Rum, 42 percent abv, £25 for 35cl, scratchspirits. co.uk
Helen said Scratch Golden Rum, 42% abv (pictured), is best sipped on its own or mixed with pineapple juice to make a classy pina colada.
One of the few British rums to be made here from scratch (hence the name), it’s the work of Doug Miller.
He set up his distillery in Hertfordshire in 2016 and has been honing his craft ever since, producing a range of rums using fine British molasses with a blend of different yeasts for fermentation, botanicals for flavor and barrels for ageing.
This rum aged in new oak barrels is deliciously creamy, with flavors of cinnamon. Sip it alone or mix it with pineapple juice to make a chic pina colada. 10/10
Old Mother Hunt Silver Rum, 40 percent abv, £27.95 for 50cl, oldmotherhunt.co.uk
Helen said Old Mother Hunt Silver Rum, 40 percent abv (pictured) is beautifully smooth and creamy
When pilot Matt Hunt was fired at the start of the pandemic, he and his wife, Becky, decided to start their own rum distillery. Based in Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, they now make a range of blends including golden, spiced and dark rum, but it’s this one that really shines.
Made from molasses and distilled twice in a copper pot still, it is beautifully smooth and creamy. Serve over ice and top with tonic, or try in a classic mojito.8/10
Fresh and fruity
Arlu Blood Orange Rum, 40 percent abv, £22.95 for 50cl, amazon.co.uk
Helen said Arlu Blood Orange Rum, 40% abv (pictured) is a must try if you like your rum with sweetness and a fruity twist
From the makers of Didsbury Gin in Manchester, founders Mark Smallwood and Liam Manton turned to rum.
Using Caribbean rum imported from the Demerara Diamond Distillery, there are three flavors to choose from, including Original Spiced, Passionfruit & Mango and this one, Blood Orange. One to try if you like your rum with sweetness and a fruity touch. Serve over ice or prepare a punch. 6/10
Dark Matter Spiced Rum, 40 percent abv, £29 for 70cl, tesco.com
Helen said Dark Matter Spiced Rum, 40% abv (pictured), is best served on its own or the old fashioned way
Scotland’s first rum distillery was established by brothers Jim and John Ewen in 2015, and their molasses-based Spiced Rum is truly something.
Infused with a heady blend of Oriental Ginger, Indonesian Long Pepper, Allspice Berries and Thai Green Peppercorns, it has a rich, warm scent. Take a sip and it explodes with sweetness and spice and an almost cola-like quality. Serve on its own or – my favorite – make it an old fashioned. 7/10
Taste of the sea
Tidal Rum, 40 percent abv, £34.95 for 70cl, masterofmalt.com
Helen said Tidal Rum, 40% abv (pictured) is warm and fruity with a hint of smoke, best served with soda and a squeeze of lime juice
This gorgeous rum from Jersey’s Shorts Boy Distillery is made from a blend of four barrel-aged rums from Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic.
It is then infused with wild Pepper Dulse seaweed, harvested from the Jersey coastline and known for its truffle quality.
I can’t say I can taste truffles in it, but it’s still delicious — warm and fruity with a hint of smoke. Serve it with a soda and a squeeze of lime juice. 8/10