Yo, Ho, Ho - and a bottle of RUM (or is that the Caribbean in a glass?)

Foursquare Distillery - A barrel decanting a rum

Trinidad Rum 1999Rum has been part of the British way of life ever since it has been known to be made. Records go back to the early 17th Century and by then the ‘Colonies’ included a number of the Caribbean Islands where the majority of rum is distilled. However there is some evidence that is was made in a basic way in India & China years before.

Many of you will have heard of the Royal Navy’s ‘daily ration’. This stopped in 1970 after it had been served every day to every sailor for over 300 years. It was thought that rum [or rhum or ron] prevented scurvy that was common with sailors in those days, mostly due to their poor diet, however, it was the fresh lime juice that was added to make it more palatable that actually did the trick but what a great excuse for drinking rum – he he he. The rum when diluted with water became known as ‘Grog’, a word that is often used today for all sorts of alcoholic beverages.

The origin of the name has a number of variations but my favourite is that it is a shortened version of the Latin word for sugar, Saccaharum but also it could be the shortened version of rumbustion behaviour that was the result of too much imbibing of liquor and this has a ring of truth to me. But there again who cares, it is after all a great spirit and can be used in many different ways.

To make rum you take either molasses or sugar cane juice & when yeast is added an ‘alcoholic wash’ is created that is then distilled using either a ‘Pot Still’ or in a ‘column still’. The resulting spirit is aged, some in stainless steel vats but mostly in oak casks, for a number of years, varying in type for each producer and also what style of finished rum they are wanting to produce. When it comes off the Still the liquid is clear but if offering a young golden rum it might be coloured with a tasteless caramel, so that all different bottle sizes will be the same colour. When aged in a cask for many years the rum may take on the colour from that cask and the top rums are usually left unsweetened and uncoloured. 

A short while ago I met Richard Searle who is the Head Distiller at RJ Searle in Barbados. What a fascinating and entertaining man! The family rum making experience goes back to 1820 yet it was 1926 before Reginald Searle the founder, had saved enough to start his own company. By then he was 56 and had already spent 43 years in the rum trade, however since then it has been handed down father to son.

Foursquare Distillery - Barrel filling and Rum Maturation

They own Foursquare distillery situated in the St George Valley on the East Coast of Barbados where the cooling Trade Winds give a constant climate that is ideal for rum ageing. One of their well-known brands, Doorley’s, has a traditional drawing of a parrot on the label linking with the old idea of piracy on the island and for a great experience you need to try their XO. A six-year rum which is finished in Sherry casks, much like they enhance a Malt Whisky it is quite ‘yummy’. We stock 6 of their rums and even the 3-year white is so smooth you could drink it neat over ice. Prices here range from under £20 to over £30.

Another great range to watch out for goes by the name of Mezan. There are 4 styles and all are untouched. Often rare, always a single year and from a single distillery these are neither sweetened or coloured with only a minimum of filtering & having been aged in old Bourbon casks they are bottled, one cask at a time. Mostly priced mid £30’s they express the full character of producer & origins, representing superb value for a spirit to sit, savour & enjoy both aromas & tastes.............Ah, I can hear the lapping of the Caribbean as I write......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz


You can learn more by logging on to: http://www.mezanrum.com/

Remember Wine Drinking should be FUN - Andrew [andrewh@georgehill.co.uk]

[Do always remember to drink responsibly]

One last note – Watch out SOON to find us in the centre of Leicester as well as in Loughborough.