It’s World Rum Day on July 10 and Diplomatico Rum Brand Ambassador Sai Hamsala says winter is the perfect time to celebrate the delicious spirit.
While people often associate rum cocktails with summer and tropical holidays, warm alcoholic drinks such as hot toddies are growing in popularity in Australia, not to mention an appreciation of premium aged rum as a spirit to be sipped in much the same way as whisky, beside a roaring fire.
“Most of the bars I visit have a steaming pot of mulled wine or mulled cider sitting on the bar this winter, which smells divine,” Hamsala said. “Bartenders are very skilful and create their own variation of these recipes for their customers to enjoy. Hot toddies have made a massive comeback, it’s a drink made with simple ingredients your choice of spirit, lemon juice, honey, hot water and spices – the perfect drink to keep you warm.”
Hamsala’s favourite way to drink rum in winter, other than neat, is in a warm, creamy cocktail with a hint of spice.
“I enjoy drinking warm rum cocktails in winter, such as a hot rum toddy, hot buttered rum, special rum coffee or a good rum blazer,” he said. “I sometimes even add rum to my hot chocolate with some toasted marshmallows on the side. For the full sensory experience its best enjoyed sitting next to a fireplace.”
His delicious recipe for Diplomatico Special Coffee features 50ml of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, 200ml of freshly brewed coffee, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and a layer of slightly whipped heavy cream, garnished with nutmeg or dark chocolate.
Aged rum rises to rival whisky
Rum and whisky are two very multifaceted spirits, though as modern distillation techniques continue to advance, they are adopting more similarities than ever before.
Both embrace fermentation, distillation and the process of ageing in barrels. All of this is done in attempt to nurture the quality of the final product. Finally, both strive to produce a memorable end result using flavours and aromas to do so.
Rum is made from sugar cane, while whisk(e)y starts off in the form of grains, including rye, barley and wheat. After fermentation and distillation, both spirits are transferred into casks. These casks will take on the process of ageing the product itself.
“Premium rums like Diplomático spend maturation time in new American oak casks, or in barrels once used to hold bourbon or single malts,” Hamsala explained. “Casks used for finishing of product are those that were previously used to age other spirits or wines such as fine sherries. Interestingly, certain premium Scottish whiskey brands have been using this same very method for some 200 years.
“Fine Scottish whiskies (almost) always embrace used barrels for their ageing process. It’s a technique that was established early on, producing super premium product of a timeless nature. Old rum casks, for example, gives whiskies their remnants of fruit or spice notes long left behind.”
The ageing process is accelerated in the Caribbean for rum. The evaporation rate is higher and rum ages three times faster than whiskey would. For perspective, after 12 years of aging in the Caribbean region, a rum cask would hold just 40% of its original capacity.
“Generally speaking, rum is considered to be bold, rich and warm,” Hamsala said. “This uncle wears a loud floral shirt by day, but is always ready to slip into something a little more suave come sundown. Whisky, on the other hand, is more likely to be described as soft, consistent and aromatic. You know, the kind of uncle who dons a three-piece suit at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Whisky relies quite heavily on the barrels in which it is aged for specific flavour notes. If it isn’t utterly apparent by now, barrels are key instruments for both whiskey and rum. What’s more, super premium rums can be very similar to whisky in terms of complexity and character. Rum, however, is known to offer far more flavour notes.”
Need any more excuses to sip a delicious rum this Saturday … or any other wintery day?