In the UK spirit market, gin’s artisanal turn has been the talk of the town for several years, and the category’s clear winner for the last few years. According to the latest data, though, it seems the tipple is in danger of being toppled from the top spot as rum earns itself a place in the British public’s affection. Figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association indicate sales of golden and spiced varieties are soaring – up 23 per cent last year – precipitating the launch of a raft of new, independent brands hoping to hook a fresh generation of drinkers with a preference for quality over quantity.
It wasn’t always so, of course. Compared to gin and whisky, rum had trouble attracting a sophisticated crowd until lately, and, by the mid-2000s, the spirit had gone the way of the alcopop. But unlike gin – which, these days, is almost invariably enjoyed with tonic – rum’s strength is its versatility: it can be sipped neat, mixed with Coke or ginger, or meddled into a lengthy list of long and short cocktails. Diversity in the category, too, can’t hurt. Though rum is, at its most rudimentary, a distillate of fermented sugarcane or molasses, numerous ageing and flavouring techniques mean there’s more experimentation than ever. After all, rum is not a one-size-fits-all sort of drink. To that end, we’ve singled out six exciting craft bottles to suit every palate.