Depending on its country of origin, rum can have all kinds of different flavour profiles. From the vegetal notes of Martinique-made rhum agricole, to the savoury profile of Barbados blends, there’s so much to discover and enjoy.
Asian rums have their own unique identity as well. This became abundantly clear when I tried Thai SangSom special rum, a drink that’s rarely seen outside of Thailand.
The story of SangSom began in 1977 and the brand grew to take 70% of the Thai spirit market share. As it gained momentum outside of Thailand, SangSom rum picked up awards in the 1980s, winning gold models in booze competitions in Madrid in 1982 and 1983.
From that point on, it seemed to fall off the map, only to come back swinging in the 2000s, picking up another gold model in 2006 at a Barcelona competition. This recognition has become a part of the bottle’s identity, with the gold medals displayed proudly on the label. This led to the rum being referred to locally as SangSom Rianthong, which translates to SangSom Gold Medallion.
Yet despite the awards, SangSom is virtually unheard of beyond its Thai borders, which is a shame because there’s a lot of interesting things going on with this rum.
SangSom is made from molasses and goes through an ageing process of five years in charred oak barrels. It’s then bottled at 40%.
Although there isn’t a wealth of resources about SangSom on the internet, the Lone Caner identifies the rum as a spiced variety, which isn’t immediately recognisable on the first sip.
My first thought on trying SangSom was ‘bloody hell, I’ve never drank such a smooth-tasting rum!’ Perhaps that’s why it’s so popular in Thailand and goes down well with tourists. It’s the kind of drink you could easily shot and spend all night downing at a bar. That’s not to par the rum off as an inferior product. Far from it.
Hints of vanilla and apple arrive on the nose in a thin veil. On the palate, flavours of chocolate, strawberry and pineapple unfold in gentle waves. This is finished off with an electric tingle of heat that rises in the back of the throat.
Overall, SangSom is a delicate rum that doesn’t shout in the mouth. It’s quiet, preferring to build up after several sips. Awesome with coke. So damn easy to drink neat.
Nose: Vanilla, apple
Mouthfeel: Chocolate, strawberry, pineapple
Thai rum isn’t the only Asian variety to try. Check out The Rum Ration’s review about Japanese Santa Maria rum!