To kick off Rum Month in style we see if an expression that claims to be ‘the boldest spiced rum in the world’ lives up to its name…
The world of spiced rum is a confusing place. It wasn’t long ago that it seemed it was condemned as just a party drink. The black sheep of the rum family. It has even been debated if the category can even be classified a rum. Which is not a great start. It’s generally useful if people believe that you are what you claim to be (hot dogs being a notable exception).
But the last few years have demonstrated that there’s more to spiced rum than poorly made, vanilla-drenched and pirate-infested nightmares. Blenders, bottlers and distillers are increasingly keen to capitalise on a market hungry for innovative flavoured booze. Even spiced rum haters should be able to find an agreeable bottle they like if they look hard enough.
In steps Berry Bros. & Rudd distribution arm Fields, Morris & Verdin., which released its own attempt at a premium spiced spirit with Spice Hunter Boldest Spice Rum, a Mauritian rum blended with 13 spices.
The first thing that stands out about Spice Hunter is its title, which contains an ambitious claim. Fittingly the vivid orange, white and black colour scheme, enlarged block capital text and overall presentation is also bold. Behind all of that, you’ll see a man on a boat. His name is Pierre Poivre and he was the inspiration for Spice Hunter. You know Pierre, right? The 18th-century botanist turned spice smuggler? Jeez. Read a book.
Poivre began his career after he noticed there was an abundance of spices growing on the Dutch-owned islands of Indonesia, where he was recovering after losing his arm while fighting the British (a wooden arm isn’t quite as iconic, is it?). Back then, spices fetched more than gold and the death penalty was imposed on any ‘spice hunter’. That didn’t stop our Pierre, oh no. His smuggling career was so successful that it is said he single-handedly broke the Dutch monopoly.
Between this rum’s name and the story, there’s a billing to be lived up when it comes to the spice blend. Fortunately, Fields, Morris & Verdin didn’t let us down there. A total of 13 spices feature in Spice Hunter, including allspice, caraway, cardamom, chilli, cinnamon, clove, cubeb, elemi, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, pimento and, of course, vanilla. That’s one packed blend. Quite a bold spice blend, you might even say.
Of course, a truly great spiced rum doesn’t just have a great spice blend, the base rum needs to be up to scratch too. In this case, the rum used in Spice Hunter is a column distilled single-estate rum from the Medine Distillery in Mauritius. For all the marketing bumf and playful claims, FMV isn’t messing about here.
It also “challenges you to make a bold move”. There’s even a cheesy video (above) that cements this message. But don’t let it put you off, this spirit stands up to scrutiny. Fiery spices are certainly there and make their presence known without hesitation, but there is enough sweetness to act as a counterpoint. Most pleasingly, that sweetness is not saccharine or cloying. The spicing itself appears to have been infused, so it comes across as authentic and not at all artificial.
Is it ‘the boldest spiced rum in the world’? No, instead, rum fans should enjoy Spice Hunter as the intriguing, warming and satisfying drink that it is, especially at the price. It’s custom made for cola, cutting through the sticky sweetness and lifting the whole drink. But there’s also a number of cocktails it would shine in like a Cubanita (rum Bloody Mary), for example. Luckily the brand has a few suggested serves so you don’t have to do the hard work yourself, and we’ve them listed below our customary tasting note. Make a bold move, or something.
Spice Hunter Boldest Spice Rum Tasting Note:
Nose: Fresh ginger initially, then long pepper, cardamon and heaps of aromatic cloves. More spice comes in the form of green peppercorns, allspice and a couple of drying dashes of nutmeg and pimento before cinnamon pastries, cola cubes and vanilla pods add a balanced sweetness. A hint of spent firework adds something interesting underneath.
Palate: More cinnamon, clove and an earthy twist of black pepper, then root beer, gingerbread and mulled fruit.
Finish: Short and delicately sweet, with earthy and dry spice lingering underneath.
Spice Hunter & Cola
Ingredients: 25ml of Spice Hunter and 150ml of cola.
Method: Build in a glass over cubed ice and garnish with an orange wedge. If you mess this one up, I suggest letting someone else handle the cocktails for the time being.
Ingredients: 30ml of Spice Hunter, 30ml of orange juice, 22.5ml of agave syrup, 22.5ml of Grand Marnier, 15ml of lime juice and a dash of grapefruit bitters.
Method: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake that bad boy up. Strain into your glass and then garnish with an orange wheel. If you’re a total badass, make the dehydrate the orange and add a spritz of mezcal spray over the glass.