Now the Rum Report has looked at rhum agricole, the sweeter Spanish-influenced rums, British Navy, Cuban and Jamaican rums, we can fine-tune our investigation to take in the lesser-known styles of the Caribbean.
Guyana’s rum is a body-size down on Jamaican, but remains a rich dark liquid that speaks of its molasses more than any other rum. This is Demerara rum, produced on the banks of the Demerara river, by Demerara Distillers from Demerara sugar molasses. And you can taste it.
The company – which produces El Dorado and some rum for Pusser’s – has the world’s only wooden pot and continuous stills. This sounds downright dangerous but apparently allows for flavour exchange between distillates and gives fuller flavour and character.
Demerara Distillers chairman Komal Samaroo gives us a little history. “By the 1950s the then major sugar company introduced the first rum to the local market – El Dorado. In the early ’90s we decided to aim the brand at North America, the Caribbean and Europe. We realised we could not compete with the big brands such as Bacardi and Lamb’s. It was a losing battle. So we went to the top end of the market with aged rums.”
Seventy per cent of DDL’s output is bulk rum, but El Dorado is gaining significance internationally, in the Caribbean – where because of its South American heritage is not seen as a competitor to local rums – the US, Canada, Holland, Sweden, and Finland. It has just launched in India.
Barbados rum is mellow, lightened by the use of column still distillates. As the saying goes, “a little pot still goes a long way”.
Tina Ingwersen-Matthiesen, of Borco’s Old Pascas, which comes in Jamaican and Barbadian forms, outlines the differences: “Barbados rum is often described as somewhere between light Cuban and heavy Jamaican. The freshness is underlined by the pure water, which filters through the chalky, porous stone of the island.”
Barbados, like other small Caribbean islands, cannot grow enough sugar cane for its rum output, so buys much of its cane on the spot market.
But to talk of Barbados is to talk of Mount Gay. According to the brand, its operation is the world’s oldest, a statement proven by a legal deed from 1703 that describes a “pot still house”.
Fannie Young of the Rémy Cointreau-owned brand says its hallmark is that it doesn’t taste like any other rum, “it drinks like a Scotch whisky”. The company has just launched Black Barrel, which prominently features the year 1703. Apparently the new small batch rum is “taking off” in international markets, which now represent 75% of the brand’s sales.
Trinidad & Tobago
This island duo is home to CL Financial’s Angostura, which, with its subsidiary Trinidad Distillers, produces a huge amount of bulk rum and the brands Zaya, Vat 19 and Kraken.