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Rum – it’s the new gin, m’hearties

In honour of National Rum Day, we’re benching our usual G&T for something a little spicier. Here’s what to buy and how to drink it (spoiler: no coke allowed!).

It’s so easy to reach for your trusty tipple every time, isn’t it? For me that’s G&T for an aperitif, Champagne if it’s payday and sauvignon blanc for breakfast (JOKE, honest!). All very nice but just a teensy bit boring, no? I’m making it my mission to get out of my booze rut and National Rum Day this Sunday (16 Aug) is the perfect excuse to try something new.

So I collared the ever-informative Hugh Taylor, connoisseur ne plus ultra and MD of Slurp, the brilliant wine and spirits merchant (you can buy at his Banbury store or online) to get the lowdown on rum’s renaissance and what we should be sipping.

What’s happening with rum then?

Obviously it’s been around for many years but it’s recently been ‘premium’-ised – so people are using much more grown-up language, talking about things like vintages, and of course the packaging is becoming more stylish. So many people are driven by packaging now – lots of customers come into my shop and will buy because they like the look of the bottle, rather than what’s in it. Everything’s an Instagram opportunity!

Have you seen a surge in popularity?

Yes, definitely. We have about 15 in the shop now and did our first rum-tasting (12 different types!) last week. We have people coming in looking for a bottle for the weekend for when their adult children are coming to stay with their partners. It’s a trend driven by what millennials are drinking in London bars.

How have things changed since our teenage Bacardi misadventures?

In those days it was a low-end drink to mix with something sweet to disguise the taste. Now it’s all about the versatility – that’s the beauty of rum. There are white, amber and black rums and they can all be drunk in different ways. White rum is obviously clear, hasn’t been aged in an oak barrel, tends to have a lower ABV and is easy to mix. If you’re usually a vodka drinker, white rum is a good substitute. Amber rums tend to have spent a bit of time in a barrel so they have a golden tinge. They’re more premium and for those times when you want to actually taste the rum. While the dark ones are the most exciting ones and are having a big resurgence, with cool brands like The Kraken who have a huge following on Instagram.

How do we drink it?

I would suggest rum cocktails to kick off an evening, perhaps a dark and stormy. I like this recipe from British brand Daymark:

Method

  • Fill a highball glass with ice and fill 3/4 full with ginger beer
  • Add a generous squeeze of lime
  • Top with your 50ml of Daymark original
  • Garnish with a slice of lime and a few dashes of angostura bitters

You could also do a rum version of the gin cocktail Tom Collins, using white rum. Or a classic white rum cocktail like a strawberry daiquiri, or make it more modern by using pomegranate or fig. Always finish the night by sipping a dark rum on the rocks, like a whiskey.

What’s your favourite rum tipple?

I like white rum, lime juice, sugar syrup and angostura bitters shaken through ice. The beauty of it is that you can taste the rum. It’s not quite like a G&T but it’s a good classic way revisit white rum.

Any other reasons why we should be drinking rum?

You could make a case for it being a health drink – kind of! Rums are gluten-free as they’re made from sugar-cane, they have no carbs and are generally vegan.

OK, you’ve convinced us. Which one should we buy?

Go for the Nicaraguan Flor De Cana 12 Y/O Centenario Rum, from a family who’ve been making rum for 125 years. It’s like a good whiskey so don’t waste it in a cocktail.

No cheeky coke mixer then?

Absolutely no coke!

Slurp, 2 Riverside, Tramway Road, Banbury OX16 5TU; 01295 672296. You can also order online at slurp.co.uk

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