Popularity and demand for this infamous sugarcane spirit is booming in the UK. With this increased demand comes an influx of new flavours and brands; as well as longstanding distillers re-establishing themselves as the ‘original’ rum producers, traditions and all.
We tend to keep between 20 – 25 different types of rum on the shelves at The Ancient Mariner on Exmoor, and these are our top ten rums – with a bit of back story on each one.
1. The Old J Collection.
Ok, ok. So, yes, this is actually three rums together, but as they’re distilled by the same company we thought it should only count as one entry. And hey, technically then it’s our top 12 rums!
Admiral Vernon’s Old J is all blended from the same base spirit, but with 5 different varieties (with the exception of the Gold version). We currently hold 3 types – the Old J Spiced, Old J Tiki Fire and Old J Dark.
Old J Tiki Fire is a higher ABV than your average bottle at a whopping 75.5% ABV. Not for the faint hearted, this one is best served long with a fruity Frobisher’s mixer to accentuate the vanilla and toffee flavours or sipped, rather slowly, over the rocks with a twist of lime.
The other two are classic spiced and dark varieties, though the ‘dark’ rum is actually a dark spiced rum – there are stronger vanilla hints and spice elements in this one than in a traditional Navy dark rum.
Speaking of Navy rum, no bar in the UK is complete without a bottle of the benchmark of all Navy rum’s; Pusser’s. The original Navy rum, Pusser’s is one of the most historic and traditional rums still available today. This rum is THE rum that was distributed to Royal Naval officers, before the practice of delivering a tot of rum a day was abolished in the 1970’s. There is nothing artificial added in terms of flavour or colouring to the Original Admiralty Blend, or the Gunpowder Proof (Black Label, which is the one that we stock).
For the sake of tradition, this one should be drunk with a splash of water, and nothing else. Or if watered down rum isn’t your idea of a delightful evening in a bar, then try it with a twist of lime and splash of ginger beer instead; a short dark and stormy.
3. Lugger Rum.
Being a coastal hotel, bar and restaurant on Exmoor, located right next to the harbour, it made perfect sense for us to stock Lyme Bay Winery’s ‘Lugger Rum’. The term ‘lugger’ refers to a specific kind of boat, typically used for fishing…or other less wholesome activities under the cover of darkness.
Given the West Country’s history of smugglers, Lyme Bay gave their line of spirit products the name of Jack Rattenbury, who was a smuggler of notoriety in the 1800’s. In perhaps a rather unusual move for one involved in the smuggling trade, Rattenbury wrote a book about his life and escapades, called ‘Memoirs of a Smuggler’.
Unusually for a spiced rum, the predominate flavour isn’t of vanilla, but rests on a full profile of delicious spices. The Caribbean rum is aged in bourbon-charred oak barrels here in Devon, before being spiced with nutmeg, orange-peel and cloves (and a dash of vanilla). This rum won Gold in the 2019 International Spirits Challenge, in the Tasting Awards.
Now, we do hold Malibu in stock but this one…well, this one is like Malibu for grown-ups. A coconut flavoured Jamaican white rum, Koko Kanu is produced by the legendary Wray & Nephew Distillery which has been making rum for over 150 years. It lacks some of the liquor-esque sweetness of Malibu, and is great over the rocks, or with a pineapple juice.
You can’t talk about the finest rums without talking about Diplomatico. The Venezuelan rum distillery that produces Diplomatico is one of the largest rum producers in the country, and the prestige of Diplomatico is renowned across the globe. It has won over 54 medals worldwide, including at the highly acclaimed San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Not only a producer of exceptional sipping rum, the company provides sustainable jobs for more than 700 workers in Venezuela and has developed strong social programmes to improve quality of life, while minimising environmental impact. Premium rum with a conscience…that’s definitely a winner for us.
6. Professor Ableforth’s Rumbullion!
As bottles go, this one is certainly eye catching behind the bar. Wrapped in brown paper and sealed with black, dripping wax, the bottle proudly flaunts it’s maritime inspiration with a sketch of a Navy grog tub, with the words ‘The Queen, God Bless Her’ (which was the toast decried by Naval officers before drinking their rationed tot of rum).
The contents are pretty special too; this is another spiced dark rum but this one follows a super secret recipe; some of the spices notable on the palate are that of cassia (Chinese cinnamon), cloves and a hint of cardamom. A modern classic, this rum is fantastic over the rocks, allowing the complex spices to warm you up, by the fire.
7. Ron Zacapa 23
Crafted in Guatemala, this rum develops it’s complex flavour and character at 2300m above sea level in the mystical ‘House Above the Clouds’. It contains a blend of rums from 6 years to 23 years old, with a rich, honeyed butterscotch flavour with spiced oak and fruits.
The Beverage Testing Institute (N.B. If anyone knows how to get a job there, comment below please!) awarded this delicious rum 98 points. Much of it’s depth of flavour is accountable to the solera process for aging, in which it is fractionally blended over many years. The labour-intensive method results in a gloriously smooth finish.
8. Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy
A delicious rum with a great story! This rum was originally created by Plantation’s cellar master Alexandre Gabriel and drinks historian David Wondrich. They infuse the rinds of Queen Victoria pineapples in their white rum for a week, then distil it. They then further infuse the fruit of the pineapples in dark rum for three months. These are then married together and left to age in casks for a another three months. Pineapple, upon pineapple, upon pineapple!
The name comes from the character Reverend Stiggins from Dickens’ ‘Pickwick Papers’ whose favourite drink was ‘pineapple rum’.
9. Bombo Rum Liqueur – Caramel & Banana
Rum and banana is a classic flavour combination, evoking memories of blackened BBQ bananas, doused in dark rum, sugar and cream.
This bottle of liqueur is great as a night cap, and certainly for those with a sweet tooth after a hearty dinner. This is one of our more local rum bottles, coming from The Real Rum Company in Newquay, Cornwall.
10. Pyrat XO Reserve
Sister brand to Patron Tequila, Pyrat uses barrels both from French Limousin oak and from toasted American oak. It is then blended with a multitude of rums from all over the Caribbean, delivering it’s distinctive orange and citrus aroma and flavour on the nose and palate. This one is good with a Fentimen’s Curiosity Cola, or alone – a bit like drinking a rum old-fashioned.
And there we have it! Ten of the delicious rums and rum liqueurs available at The Ancient Mariner. If your favourite hasn’t been mentioned, there are plenty of other ones that we haven’t mentioned in this blog post…pop in and see whether it’s on the shelves or not! And we are always open to suggestion on new additions to the range…