From Maggie Campbell to Kyra Elton, there’s so many innovative women pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the rum industry. A name that should be mentioned in the same company is Mount Gay’s master blender Trudiann Branker, who revealed some of blending secrets on a webinar with The Rum Lab.
Throughout 2020, rum webinars have become a part of my weekly routine. It’s been fascinating to connect with and learn about distilleries from all over the world through Zavvy and discover folks who’re pushing the rum industry to new heights. It’s even better discovering a country I didn’t know much about and that country happened to be Suriname in South America.
Cocktail Wonk’s Matt Pietrek hosted a webinar with the Suriname Alcoholic Beverages (SAB) company, shining a light on the intriguing world of Surinamese rum and how the country has transformed in recent years.
Saint Lucia rum brand Chairman’s Reserve have recently launched a competition called the Spiced Lab, a contest that invites bartenders from all over the world to craft their own spiced rum and the winner will go on to have a free trip to the distillery and have their rum produced and sold across the globe.
It’s an exciting time for the spiced rum category and it just so happens that two bartenders from my home city of Manchester have reached the crucial ‘sampling’ phase of the competition. Karl Stanley and Kyra Elton who work at the Science + Industry Bar have created some truly stunning drinks, so naturally I had to get on down to the bar to try them for myself.
When it comes to diverse spirits, rum deserves to be at the forefront of the conversation. The range of flavour profiles is incredible and this diversity can provide a gateway into spirits that have similar qualities but are unique in their own right. An example of this is kokuto shochu, a Japanese spirit that’s perfect for rum lovers.
Barbados and rum have every right to be in the same sentence, as the island produces some of the finest grog to be found anywhere on the planet. A business that carries on the tradition of producing fine Bajan rum is the West Indies Distillery, a venue with a rich heritage that started with a man named Georges Stades.
Stades impact on the rum industry was prolific and it was fascinating to learn about his story on a webinar hosted by The Rum Lab’s Federico Hernadez. West Indies Rum Distillery: Diving Into 4 Generations Of Rum-Making featured master distiller Don Benn and Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel, who recounted the life of Stades and how the distillery came into existence.
Barbados has a reputation for producing some of the best rum on the planet, with Mount Gay representing what makes Bajan rum so special. As the oldest rum distillery in the world, Mount Gay has plenty of rich heritage to draw from and it was a pleasure to learn about the history of the brand on a recent webinar hosted by Cocktail Wonk’s Matt Pietrek.
The webinar featured Mount Gay’s managing director Raphael Grisoni, process manager Fitzroy Smith and master blender Trudiann Branker.
One of food’s greatest quality is its ability to transport you to another place and open the mind to new experiences and cultures. Coming out of lockdown, I feel that quality is more important than ever, especially with travel restrictions and hospitality venues all over the world struggling to stay afloat.
Supporting local food businesses is the first step to regaining that transformative eating experience and that’s what I decided to do when I went to Stretford in Manchester where I grew up to visit the Edge Café and Restaurant.
Since falling down the rum rabbit hole, one of the most striking things I’ve found about the category is the wealth of different styles and varieties that can be found all over the world. Among the most unique is rhum agricole, which is made from fresh sugarcane juice, rather than molasses.
There’s a rich history in the rhum agricole category that’s fascinating to explore and a great place to learn about it is over on the Rumcast podcast. Co-hosts John Gulla and Will Hoekenga recently invited rhum princess Kiowa Bryan onto the show to talk about what makes agricole so unique and why you should be trying it.
Like many islands of the Caribbean, Haiti has a history that is rich in rum production. But look deeper and you’ll find that the island has its own indigenous spirit known as clairin, which at first glance may look like a regular unaged rum, but in reality there’s so much more to it.
Japan is known for producing some of the most unique alcoholic drinks in the world. There’s a growing interest in nihonshu, shochu and awamori from a western audience, but that hasn’t stopped the Land of the Rising Sun from exploring western categories. This is evident in the rise of Japanese rum, with many sake breweries trying their hand at making the spirit.
The world of Japanese rum is one of experimentation and innovation. Here are four brands that are worth knowing about so you can add them to your bottle collection.