As the premium rum category shows significant recent growth, rare whisky specialists Cask 88 introduce Scotch whisky drinkers to three single cask expressions from South and Central America.
Award-winning independent bottler of rare and old Scotch whisky, Cask 88, have just introduced a new line of independently bottled rum, amid reports that rum is gaining appreciation as a premium sipper akin to Scotch whisky. Now available for general sale, each of the rums in the range is a small batch, single cask release from a Caribbean distiller, selected to give consumers a taste of unique and authentic rums, produced using traditional methods, that cannot be readily found on the supermarket shelves.
The range includes a Guyana 20 year old rum (Distilled in 1999; 64.7% ABV; 55 bottles available; US $199 RRP / £150), overflowing with exotic fruit and grassy freshness; a Guyana 21 year old rum (Distilled 1998; 60.9% ABV; 149 bottles available; US $149 RRP / £115), a dark and complex sipper for relaxed evenings, and a Nicaragua 19 year old rum (Distilled 2000; 66.6% ABV; 190 bottles available; US $149 RRP / £115), which is aromatic and lightly-wooded, owing to the softer climate of the region.
The rums from Guyana originate at the only remaining distillery in Guyana, Demerara Distillers, known for its range of heritage wooden stills. These stills were adopted by the distillery from other Guyanan rum distillers which closed in the late 20th century and include the three last operational wooden stills in the world (two pot stills, one coffey still). The Nicaraguan rum originates from Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua, which lies at the foot of the active San Cristóbal Volcano, and claims to produce the world’s first carbon neutral, Fair Trade-certified spirit.
“Our Scotch whisky drinking clients are always looking for something new to excite the palate and so we’ve had our eye on rum producers in the Caribbean for some time now,” said Cask 88 Director Patrick Costello. “We feel the category shows a level of complexity and refined flavour that is reminiscent of Scotch whisky, and has the potential to command the attention of the world.” There are already indications that rum may be positioned to enjoy similar growth to what Scotch whisky has recently experienced, with premium rum leading the charge. According to research group IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, total worldwide sales by volume of standard or value priced rum grew by just 0.6% from 2014 to 2019, but ‘high-end’ rum bottles (priced $28/£22.50 or above) grew by 8.3% over the same period, indicating that rum may be about to shake its reputation as an inexpensive summer party spirit.
Cask 88 are confident that bottling small batch rum is a natural development for an independent bottler of Scottish whisky. The sugar-cane distilled spirit has a lot in common with Scotland’s champion beverage export and is being touted by analysts as the next trend in premium drinks. Both distilled in pot or column stills and matured in oak barrels for the development of flavour, rum and whisky differ in their raw source material: Whisky is distilled from barley wort, whereas rum is the distilled sap of the sugar cane. As with Scotch whisky, the age statement on the label of rums produced in English speaking countries specifically indicates the youngest rum in the blend.
Tasting Notes (By Sam Laing and Yonnick David, Guyana Rum Festival):
Guyana 20 Year Old Single Cask Rum
Nose- A strong first impression of dark Demerara sugar, which then shifts aside to reveal more subtle vegetal aromas, like agave or aloe sap.
Palate- On the tongue, this rhum punches with fruity, tropical flavours. A leading note of soursop and cherimoya fruits develops into the subtlety of asian pear and golden apples.
Guyana 21 Year Old Single Cask Rum
Nose- Draws you in with aromatic wood; sandalwood and white oak at the fore. A touch of vanilla. Sweetness follows, of orchard fruits and then barley sugars.
Palate- The flavours begin youthful, but the maturity of the spirit lingers on the palate afterwards. Sugar bubbles into rich caramel, developing a slight char. A charred oak flavour becomes almost leathery, and then leaves a gentle tingle of spices.
Nicaragua 19 Year Old Single Cask Rum
Nose- The aromas are dense and compacted together - overlapping layers of ginger cake, banana loaf and nuggets of crystallised pineapple. Woody aromatic notes follow: hints of cinnamon, vanilla and old, dry bookcase.
Palate- Thick and sweet on the palate, with a foretaste of dried prunes, dates and baked apples. Every part of the palate gets washed in these flavours, and a citrusy sharpness breezes up the nose from the back. Then the ginger cake returns, cooked until dark and dressed with desiccated coconut. A background oakiness pervades throughout.