Finding a good spiced rum that doesn't just taste of vanilla, caramel or French oak is truly a treat. A very rare treat, but one that can be compared to enjoying a really interesting gin. Although most spiced rums are of the former variety and designed to be mixed with something like coke, I believe that there is a sleeping giant just waiting to be awoken.
So what is a Spiced Rum?
Most spiced rums start life as either a cheaper white rum or an aged gold rum. From there the vast majority of commercial rums will have essences of various spices added to them to give them the spiced flavour. Spiced rums made with a gold rum base will already have a strong barrel taste to them, usually French oak. If a white rum is used as the base, then caramel is also added to give the final product a deeper golden colour.
Generally, spiced rums can be broken down into two categories; spiced rums with a strong vanilla flavour and those with a less pronounced vanilla flavour. The former are the ones designed to be mixed with coke as the vanilla compliments the mixer very well. Some of the most common spices found in a spiced rum are vanilla, clove, nutmeg, rosemary, pepper and cinnamon.
Although it may seem like spiced rums are a relatively new commercial invention, native Caribbeans have been making their own versions of spiced rums for centuries. Using the above listed spices as well as fruit, were obvious choices to add interesting flavours and sometimes medicinal effects to the islanders rums. However, some of the more interesting “spices” added to fresh rum could range from fish and insects to fresh meat!
The Future of Spiced Rum
While the spiced rum market is dominated by big commercial entities, I believe that with the rise of craft rum distilleries, spiced rum is on the cusp of a golden age. With our own experiments at Cape of Storms Distilling Company, we have been able to create spiced rums more akin to gins than the current trend of barrel and vanilla flavour heavy variants. By using real spices and various different methods, the results are truly exciting. Being able to bring out the various delicate flavours of the spices and fruits against the backdrop of a warm rum flavour really creates a party on the palate.
As more and more craft rum distilleries begin experimenting, I can't help but believe that spiced rums could become as big as, or even surpass, the current gin craze. At Cape of Storms Distilling Company, we plan to launch our first spiced rum in the months following our initial product launch and we are truly excited to share this taste adventure with you!
*Spice Illustrations from Medizinal-Pflanzen or Medicinal Plants by Franz Eugen Köhler published in 1887 in Germany