As part of a new series on the blog, we will be highlighting new bottles that we are particularly excited about. To begin with, here is a delicious Bayan rum with a French twist.
I know we’ve said it before but it’s worth reiterating, rum is going to be the next single malt whisky. It might be taking longer than we first thought but the quality is there and prices compared with the whiskies from Scotland, America and Japan are very friendly (at least for the time being). At the moment, most rum sold is a blend of distilleries, islands and even countries, but gradually drinkers are waking up to single distillery offerings – the rum equivalent of single malts.
Just as in Scotland, independent merchants play an important role, tracking down, buying and bottling rare spirits. Which brings us on to this week’s new product from the Plantation range. This company bottles rums from around the Caribbean: Jamaica, Trinidad and this little beauty from Barbados.
It comes from the West Indies Rum Distillery. You’ve probably never heard of it but you’ve almost certainly drunk something made there. Spirits distilled here go into big names like Cockspur Five Star and Malibu. Alongside such familiar faces, the distillery also produces more upmarket rums which are sold under a myriad of labels. If your rum is from Barbados, it’s probably distilled here, at the famous Mount Gay distillery, or at Four Square, which is owned by a great rum family, the Seales. There is also the tiny St. Nicholas Abbey Distillery.
Barbados has a rich rum history. It’s the island where the word ‘rum’ (a contraction of rumbullion, meaning a fight or a disturbance) comes from, probably. It’s also where rum evolved from a rough borderline poisonous spirit drunk by slaves and indentured labour into something to rival Cognac. The Mount Gay distillery dates back to 1703; the West Indies Rum Distillery is more recent being founded in 1893. Four Square is the baby of the group, it began distilling in 1996.
The Plantation range and, since 2017, the West Indies Rum Distillery are owned by a French company, Maison Ferrand (the people behind Pierre Ferrand Cognac and Citadelle Gin). And the influence of the parent company certainly shows in the 2002 Plantation Barbados rum. It’s made from a blend of pot and column still spirits (heavier and lighter rums, respectively) which were distilled in a single year, 2002. It spent 12 years on the island maturing in ex-bourbon casks. The heat of Caribbean leads to rapid ageing. Then it was transferred to former Cognac casks and matured in the cool of the Cognac region in France before bottling. You’d be hard-pressed to find a whisky with this kind of maturity for under £50.
This is just the kind of thing that gets us lovers of dark spirits a bit hot under the collar. The unusual two climate, two wood ageing process has produced a rich elegant rum with notes of toffee, fruitcake, vanilla and cigars. It’s delicious neat but, I think, even better in a rum Old Fashioned, just add a little sugar, ice and bitters. Whisky lovers, what are you waiting for? Rum lovers, we probably already had you at ‘Plantation’.