Six New Craft Rums To Try In 2020

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Six New Craft Rums To Try In 2020

Words by Ms Molly Isabella Smith

14 January 2020

For the newcomer

Merser & Co.

Merser & Co. double barrel rum. Photograph courtesy of Charles Merser & Co.

“London rum is part of our national heritage,” Merser & Co.’s Mr James Hayman tells us. “It has played as great a role in our shared social history as English gin or Scotch whisky.” The brainchild of the gin-making Hayman family, the blending house is the first of its type to open in London in more than 100 years and aims to revive the lost tradition and art of marrying rums from across the globe. As well as its quaffable double-barrel blend – a crowd-pleasing toffee-toned, tropical-tasting rum made from a mixture of aged Caribbean rums – the brand offers guided appointments, tastings and tours at its cosy Strand outpost. Best savoured neat, keep an eye on your drinking companions: this stuff won’t last long in the bottle.

For the sophisticate

Drum & Black

Drum & Black spiced rum. Photograph courtesy of Drum & Black Rum Company

Forget what you think you know about spiced rum. One of few rums distilled in England, Drum & Black is doing a top job of shifting the liquor’s unsavoury reputation. “Until now, spiced rums have been associated with lower-quality mixing spirits,” explains co-founder Mr Dan Buckland, who adds that our increasingly adventurous palates have driven innovation in the category. The brand’s own recipe is an indulgent blend of seven natural botanicals, including Indian cinnamon, English honey and Spanish oranges, which give it a well-rounded, easy-drinking profile that’s more than suitable for sipping.

For the mixologist


Copalli white rum. Photograph courtesy of Copalli Rum

Call it the Bacardi Breezer effect, but white rum isn’t enjoying quite the boom that dark, amber and spiced varieties have. In fact, sales have been waning. But a new breed of brands, such as Copalli, a single-estate rum sustainably and organically produced in Belize, is hoping to shift snobbish attitudes to the clear stuff with a clean approach. “You only have to look at the rise in popularity of flavourful tequilas, mezcal and creative gins to see that consumers are opting for complex, layered flavour in the spirits they’re buying,” says co-founder Ms Anya Fernald. “Craft rum made from sugarcane juice has a full-bodied natural flavour that marries this demand perfectly.”

For adventurous types

Burning Barn

Burning Barn smoked rum. Photograph courtesy of Burning Barn

Bottled in a moonshine-style growler jug, one might assume Burning Barn’s rum range (which includes spiced and honeyed variations) hails from across the pond, but it was born in the UK. The smoked iteration is a national first and was inspired, like the brand’s moniker, by a fire at the label’s facility. Sourced from the Diamond Distillery outside of Georgetown, Guyana, the amber liquid is cold smoked over homemade apple wood, giving it an intense nose and flavour reminiscent of black treacle. Though excellent as is, it’ll add an unusual depth and dimension to a dark and stormy.

For the spice lover

Dark Matter

Dark Matter spiced rum. Photograph courtesy of Dark Matter Distillers

Crafted in Aberdeenshire, Scotland – at what’s thought to be the country’s first rum distillery – and the second spicy preparation on this list, Dark Matter is billed as “the taste equivalent of warping into a liquid black hole, but without every atom in your body being crushed to an infinitely small point.” And if by that they mean that the rich mahogany liquor packs a punch, then we’re in firm agreement. Without a hint of the saccharine sweetness typically associated with a spiced rum, this is a complex concoction with zingy pepper, ginger and a lingering suggestion of cloves and nutmeg. For the full impact, sip it solo with a spritz of lime.

For the aficionado


Equiano limited batch rum. Photograph courtesy of The Equiano Rum Co

Recently nominated by Stormzy as one of his favourite tipples, Afro-Caribbean rum Equiano is named in honour of abolitionist Mr Olaudah Equiano and is sourced from two of the world’s best producers: Foursquare in Barbados and Gray’s Distillery in Mauritius. 100 per cent natural and aged for at least eight years, it’s finished in bourbon casks to impart a warming flavour ripe with raisins, toffee and butterscotch. “It is a unique and versatile rum, a world’s first in marrying rum from two continents [and] two different rum cultures,” says global rum ambassador Mr Ian Burrell, who co-founded the brand. “I enjoy mine neat with a twist of orange peel."