In recent years, Scotland has become a popular place for rum producers to set up shop. The likes of J.Gow, Mattuga and SeaWolf are making their mark on the rum industry with unique offerings and another Scottish brand who deserves to be among such storied companies is the Ice and Fire Distillery based in Caithness.
The distillery’s Caithness Raiders rum conjures images of adventure, exploration and hardiness. I was kindly presented with a bottle to sample and given my appreciation for viking culture, I was eager to dive in and try.
Caithness Raiders is inspired by the history of Caithness, an area of land that’s surrounded by sea on two sides and is nearby the infamous Pentland Firth. The firth is a dangerous strait between Caithness and the Orkney islands, a body of water with some of the most violent tidal currents on the planet.
These swells and currents have been given names like The Merry Men of May and The Swilkie, with the latter having Nordic origins. Meaning ‘the swallower’ in Old Norse, a Swilkie is a whirlpool created by a sea witch. The vikings clearly knew the dangers of the area and they still travelled to Caithness to pillage and seek their fortunes.
The rum tells the story of these raids and the connection between the viking settlers and the Scottish land they cultivated. This is represented on the bottle, with a logo of a viking longship sailing past Noss Head at Wick.
The Ice and Fire Distillery’s rum is a spiced variety that has been aged in oak and contains botanicals of vanilla, local hand-picked golden whin (gorse) flowers and more. Honey has also been added from the distillery’s bee aviaries to provide an undercurrent of sweetness.
In contrast to the rough and ready image of this rum, the flavour profile is delicate, soft and smooth. A grassy, sweet banana smell rises from the glass.
Like a stealthy viking raiding party whose infiltrated a fort, the rum slips past the defences and comes in full charge at the back of the mouth, with spicy cardamom and coconut notes from the gorse flowers. The honey arrives at the end, settling into the throne that has become your palate, spreading its influence across all corners of the mouth and tongue until it has you hooked and you’re ready for another sip.
Caithness raiders rum is an awesome sipping rum that can be enjoyed straight or with ice. For a pairing, it goes well with ginger ale or a splash of tonic water to bring out more of the spiciness. It’s a drink worthy of Valhalla.
Nose: Grass, sweet banana, dried fruit
Mouthfeel: Cinnamon, cloves, oak, chocolate, honey. banana bread
If she were alive today, the Scandivanian princess turned pirate captain Awilda would’ve enjoyed a bottle of Caithness raiders rum. Find out more about what other kinds of rum she’d enjoy drinking!