Now whether you have a father, or especially if you are a father, we’ve been trying out a couple of special premium, dark rum brands that might go down particularly well this father’s day.
The first true rums first emerged on Caribbean and Latin American sugarcane plantations in the 17th century, where the spirit was distilled from molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process.
The history of rum from there is inseparably linked to the sea, with the drink becoming a core component of the slave trade and of pirate myth in the ‘Golden Era’ of naval adventures from 1650 to 1740. In this period, molasses would be collected from the Caribbean and taken to New England to be distilled into Rum. The rum would be shipped to Africa in exchange for slaves, who would then be shipped to the Caribbean regions to tend the sugar plantations and harvest more sugar cane, to be converted to molasses.
For the seafarer, rum, less inclined to spoil than fresh water and sturdier than beer, became the drink of choice. Rum was the drink of Buccaneers and “old salts”, and eventually the official drink of the British Royal Navy. Every ship’s purser would dole out a daily “tot”, an eighth of a pint, for each Tar (as the shipmen were known). But pirate captains faced no such restrictions and used the popularity of rum to gain the favour of crew.
So if you fancy reliving the life of an old Buccaneer, we’ve sampled two of the premium variety for you to wave your cutlass at.
El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara rum
First up is El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara rum, often voted amongst the world’s best rums, whose very name conjures up tales of mystical tribes and cities of gold.
Hailing from Guyana in Latin America, the home of Demerara sugar and Eddy Grant, this is one distillery that cut out the New England part of the triangle by keeping the distillery at the source of the sugar.
The story of Demerara Distillers stems from 1670 when every sugar estate would have its own rum still producing its own special blend. A group of enterprising sugar cane producers in Guyana formed a co-operative, to produce rum for sailors and eventually the company would co-opt the distilleries of over 300 sugar estates. Now, there is only one unrivalled distillery at Plantation Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara – Demerara Distillers Limited.
The bottle is reminiscent of the flasks of Dutch sailors flung over the hulls of their vessels many years ago; and with Demerara Distillers, the distillery behind El Dorado, the history does not stop with the bottle.
You may also be surprised to find that the unique original heritage stills and equipment have been preserved in working order and still operate in tandem with the most up to date production technology.
The youngest rum they produce is El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara Rum (a blend whose origins include rums from the Port Mourant double wooden pot still), a spectacular dark, rich amber coloured spirit. This is a smooth, mellow and sweet concoction, with no sting from the alcohol. It’s packed with aromas reminiscent of its tropical origins, with sugar, honey, banana, toffee, raisins and sultanas delivering up a ripe, rich and balanced flavour which leaves a warm feeling in the chest. On top of that, the finish that is elegant and dry. You can pretend you’re a hedonistic old seadog whilst taking a swig of this dark rum straight, on the rocks or in a classic cocktail!
El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara Rum retails at around £32.99.
Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum
A family business since 1806, Gosling’s is the only company that blends and bottles rum in Bermuda, and is the largest exporter of a Bermuda-made product.
A good secret is worth keeping, but when it’s a very special rum formula like Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum, the family secret just has to be splashed around. Even so it took Bermuda’s Gosling family 155 years to reveal the secrets of the tipple.
Gosling’s are of course more famous for their Black Seal rum of Dark ‘N’ Stormy fame. But to miss out on this complex, hidden gem would be a crime worthy of Blackbeard himself. The special twist in the tale of this very special blend is that after being crafted in the same way as Black Seal, this one is left to age, like a rare Scotch or a Cognac, in dark oak barrels where it acquires its extra luscious, complexity. This is a great rum for sipping, with added ice (only if you must). Gold, aged and crafted, this is a true premium rum that all rum lovers should try at least once – and then it should of course, be enjoyed slowly. It has a very complex spicy nose which is really intense, combined with a dark sweetness of dried fruit, choclate and tobacco. Soft, intense and extremely well balanced.
Not one you’ll find on every supermarket shelf, this rum is a rare beast and hard to track down. But it makes a gift that is worth the tracking – the presentation is fabulous with the dark, elegant bottle hand labelled and numbered like an artist’s limited edition. After that it is dipped in wax and placed in a straw-filled wooden box, reminiscent of days past. Just delightful for the receiver of this most decadent of rums.
Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum £53.83 from The Whisky Exchange