Rum, especially rum cocktails, have surged in popularity recently. We look at why this might be and how best to enjoy the spirit if it's not normally your tipple of choice.
Rum cocktails could play a big part in moving the nation away from its obsession with gin.
For years drinks experts have said that rum is overtaking gin in popularity but there could finally be some evidence that this is happening.
According to new research from Sainsbury’s, rum sales have experienced an impressive 39 per cent growth year on year.
A previous report by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) predicted that for 2018 sales would exceed 34 million bottles. And they were right, in 2018 sales of rum in the UK surpassed £1 billion thanks to the sale of nearly 35 million bottles.
So things are certainly on the up for the spirit. historically, white rum has been the most popular but Sainsbury’s predict the spiced varieties will boom going into 2021.
During the Sainsbury’s research 34 per cent of 25 to 44-year-olds said they enjoy drinking rum and that it could be their drink of choice.
Drinks expert Tom Sandham commented: ‘Gin lured countless drinkers away from vodka, with notorious classics like the Negroni flourishing as drinkers craved punchy new botanical flavours.
Now, gin drinkers are turning towards rum for the same reason, as it’s the ideal stepping-stone drink into aged spirits.’
If you’ve never tried the spirit before and you’re not sure where to start, we are here to help! Take a look at our three-ingredient cocktail round-up for some easy at home inspiration, or scroll down for even more recipe ideas.
Supermarkets already offer an impressive collection of own-brand rums and there are more rum brands than ever before. In 2018 the Spirits Business reported that the number of brands on the market in the UK was approaching 200, up from 50 in 2006.
A brief history of rum
The history of rum is intrinsically tied to the trade of sugar cane and therefore slavery, giving it a dark history.
It was first created in the Caribbean and is one of the strongest sugar-based spirits you can get. Sugarcane syrup is distilled into alcohol, giving the spirit its boozy punch.
Rum was famously drunk by the long-haul pirates and sailors of the British Royal Navy back in the 18th century to keep them hydrated.
After months at sea, water would turn rancid and the beer eventually ran dry, so rum was the best option. This is why rum is often associated with the high seas and it was only in 1970 that the Royal Navy stopped the daily ration, more commonly known as the daily tot!
While rum originated in the Caribbean, it can be made anywhere. It’s likely the number of craft rum brewers in the UK will increase, just as the number of gin distillers has grown.
What is the difference between white, dark and spiced rum?
Each style of rum fits a different purpose and is best suited to different occasions, meals and preferences. Silvia, Turtle Bay rum’s resident rum expert, outlined the main differences and the best ways to drink each variety.
‘White or silver rums have no colour and a light taste, rum maestros usually filter the liquid until it has no impurities left, this gets bottle up straight away and not aged. Silver rums are perfect for cocktails for their sweet and light taste.’
Best white rum cocktails
‘For its sweet and light taste, I’d say white rum is best to be mixed with cocktails. Simple daiquiris or mojitos are potentially the world’s most popular cocktails and perfect examples of white rum cocktails.’
Silvia explains: ‘Having been around since the 16th century (some say) the mojito is the proof that sometimes the simplest of ingredients can create something exceptional and world-famous – who hasn’t heard of a mojito?! Lime juice, sugar cane, mint leaves, white rum and soda water (optional) that’s all it takes!’
‘Dark rum is made out the same initial liquid but aged in wooden barrels for a longer period of time. The longer rums are aged, the darker colour they become and the stronger flavour they get’, according to Silvia.
Best dark rum cocktails
Silvia explains: ‘We add dark rums to cocktails to give that extra colour and little bit more flavour. Spoiler: they’re absolutely perfect to be sipped on their own though – same as you would sip a very good Scotch!’
The perfect storm
Silvia explains: ‘Another classic, just mix dark rum, angostura bitters, a fiery ginger beer and a lime wedge squeeze. Perfect refreshing drink if you are looking for a bit of a kick!’
Traditionally, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy is made using Goslings Black Seal rum and ginger beer. It’s very similar to a Moscow Mule but uses rum in place of vodka.
‘Spiced rums are usually aged for the same amount of time as dark rums but with the addition of spices while ageing, to give it a sweet and spiced taste’, says Silvia.
Best spiced rum cocktails:
According to Silvia: ‘Spiced rums are a nice twist to add extra spice in your life whether you like it in a cocktail, neat, on a dessert. If you have a sweet tooth, then this is the rum for you!’
Spiced rum pina colada
Silvia suggests putting a twist on a classic rum-based cocktail if you want to experiment with spiced rum. For example: ‘A coconut spiced rum pina colada is what I’d go for – Crushed ice, coconut cream, spiced rum and pineapple juice. A vibrant, spicier take on the class pina!’
Hot buttered rum
A popular choice at Christmas, hot buttered rum is a nice alternative for those who don’t like mulled wine. It’s made with spiced rum, butter and a mix of spices. It’s rich and comforting and basically a big boozy hug in a mug so it’s definitely one to try during the colder months of the year.
The best rum mixers
If you don’t fancy making full-blown rum cocktails there are plenty of other rum drinks to try.
Rum and coke: Rum and coke is a classic mix and one you might have already tried. According to Silvia: ‘Rum and coke is a classic mix and one you might have already tried. According to Silvia: ‘Rum ‘n cola or “Cuba libre” (free Cuba) became popular after Coca Cola was first imported to the island, rum being the most popular alcoholic beverage and Coca Cola being the most popular mixer imported in Cuba. The importation of Coca Cola was later banned in 1962 during USA embargoes on the country, but the Cubans continued to drink Cuba Libre using other brands of cola.’
Rum and ginger beer or ale: Silvia explains: ‘Ginger beer is a traditional rum mixer – one of its perfect partners, it’s a fiery addition that complements rum’s unique flavour.’
Rum and juice: From tropical juice to something sharper like grapefruit juice, rum and juice is a great thirst quencher for the warmer days of the year and needs lots of ice in the glass.
Rum and tonic: Yes, if you love a G&T you might want to give rum and tonic a try! Ahead of National Rum Day (16 August) in 2018, Silvia created a menu at Turtle Bay to temp gin drinkers towards rum. She matched six rums, out of a collection of 40, to one of three tonic water from Double Dutch.
But if you can’t make it to one of Turtle Bay’s 43 restaurants in the UK to give the rum and tonic menu a go, experiment at home instead.
Rum cocktail ideas
Bombay Rum, serves 1
- 50ml rum
- 1/2 pomegranate
- 20ml fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Tonic water top
- Add the rum, sugar and lime into a shaker.
- Put the pomegranate seeds into a wine glass with ice.
- Pour over the cocktail shaker contents and top with tonic water.
- Garnish with a lime twist or more pomegranate seeds.
Recipe and image credit: Aldi
Nuts About Rum, serves 1
- 2 scoops of peanut butter
- 80ml almond milk
- 50ml rum
- 1 tbsp honey
- 20g milk chocolate (melted)
- Cocoa powder to dust
- Add all the ingredients into a blender and add a scoop full of ice.
- Cover the rim of the glass in chocolate and crushed peanuts.
- Pour in the blended cocktail and dust with cocoa.
Recipe and image credit: Aldi
Sugar And Spice, serves 1
- 50ml spiced rum
- 20ml sherry
- 6 mint leaves
- 4 pieces of thyme
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 20ml fresh lime juice
- Add the sugar and lime into mixing glass.
- Add the rum and mint then stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Next, add the thyme, sherry and ice.
- Stir 20 times to dilute the drink and pour into a chilled glass.
- Garnish with thyme.
Recipe and image credit: Aldi
Pale Dead Fingers, serves 1
- 50ml Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced
- 50ml (Cornish) Pale Ale
- 20ml Lime juice
- 1 spoon caster sugar
- 1 spoon sweet marmalade
- Add the ingredients over ice in a tumbler glass and stir. Serve with a twist of orange.
Here’s our pick of the best rum brands to try in 2020
Awarded silver at the 2018 World Rum Awards, Rumbullion! is blended with creamy Madagascan vanilla, a generous helping of zesty orange peel and finished with a handful of spices to produce a carefully considered spirit with lots of flavour. Brilliant for cocktails but delicious over ice with a squeeze of lime too.
If you’ve tried Ableforth's Rumbullion! But you’d like something a little more special, this is an excellent option. It was named the Best Spiced Rum at the 2017 World Rum Awards with tasting notes exclaiming: “It smells of rum!” It’s described as ‘surprisingly elegant” with hints of chocolate and eucalyptus. You could use this in cocktails but it’s probably best treated with some respect and served on its own over ice.
This rum was awarded a gold medal at the Rum & Cachaça Masters 2018 and fought off more expensive rivals including World's End Tiki Spiced Rum, which retails at over £35. It also has a silver medal from the International Wine & Spirit Competition
A more premium offering from Aldi with notes of sweet vanilla and warm spices, coffee and citrus. Serving suggestions for this award-winning rum include neat over ice or with your favourite mixer.
Distilled in Guyana and blended in Manchester, this rum comes from the makers of Didsbury gin. It’s subtly spiced and works well with the usual suspects including ginger beer and cola.
Looking for something a little different? This blood orange rum should do the trick! The sharp citrus helps cut through the buttery sweet notes of the classic spiced ARLU rum. It’s perfect for those looking to update their Negroni recipe.
This is one of the supermarket’s best sellers. It’s great for cocktails and has ‘notes of tropical fruit’ with a light, fragrant finish.
Internationally associated with the classic rum cocktail, a mojito. This rum is essential for any self-confessed cocktail lover! It’s versatile and better mixed than on its own.
Not only is this rum specifically designed to be mixed with tonic water, it’s carbon negative. Emissions are offset by planting trees in Cornwall and the packaging is eco-friendly. Named after the Cornish word for dawn, this rum could help lead the nation away from its obsession with gin. It’s distilled with nettle, quince and other locally sourced ingredients to produce a subtle rum that’s smooth and spicy.
Enjoy a taste of the tropics without having to travel 9,000+ miles with this fun new rum from Captain Morgan. It has a lower ABV of 25% and is best served over ice with lemonade for a refreshing summer tipple. There are flavours of mango and pineapple which balance the sweet, smooth rum.
Created in Cornwall and founded in St Ives’ Rum & Crab Shack, this rum got a bronze award at the 2020 World Rum Awards. It’s described as well-balanced that isn’t too sweet with a range of fruits on the nose.
In an interview with Jessica Ransom back in 2018, Lucy Cottrell, brand manager at Dead Man’s Fingers commented: ‘Spiced rum is seeing massive growth due to the versatility it brings to drinks. The spices add a unique dimension to cocktails and long drinks and appeal to those that may be hesitant in trying a different type of spirit to what they traditionally drink.
‘Dead Man’s Fingers is giving this new generation of rum drinkers something edgy, something better – it’s a world away from “pirate plonk” stereotypes. Rum is on the up with a growing premium category.’
This premium small batch rum is made in the Philippines using some of the world’s highest quality sugar cane. It’s delicious in cocktails, over ice or senior food writer Jessica Ransom likes it with tonic water and a squeeze of lime. Don Papa has won several awards for the spirit and its packaging including a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
This highly rated rum has a long-lasting spicy finish with flavours of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. It’s delicious with ice and lemon or in your favourite rum-based cocktails. The bottle makes an interesting addition to any drinks shelf or cabinet too with its striking design.
Expect notes of caramel and cinnamon on the nose with a sweet finish on the palette. This rum picked up a silver medal at the 2020 World Rum Awards.
Available to buy in store
Looking for a rum you can enjoy at boozy picnics or parties without the need for cups? This can of premix is ideal Plus, it was awarded style winner at the 2020 Premix Awards. Perfect for those with a sweeter palette, it’s described as having flavours of ‘sugary vanilla custard, a touch of coconut and a hint of ginger’. You’ll taste sweet cola with a subtle undertone of rum.
Recommended by rum expert Silvia Aliprandi, as a good value rum for the money, Sailor Jerry is described as having notes of vanilla on the nose and palate with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg too.