It’s Carnival! So Let’s Drink Rum

By on August 10th, 2022 in Blog
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Celebrating Caribbean culture almost always involves a drink a’ rum. But what classifies Caribbean Rum? Or Ron or Rhum, depending on your persuasion. Put simply it’s a distilled drink made from sugar, produced throughout countries with shores on the Caribbean Sea. Colonialism here was mainly perpetrated by the British, Spanish and French which gives us the 3 main Caribbean styles. British Rum, most notably from Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua, is made from molasses. A black, sticky, treacle-like substance which is a by-product of refining sugar cane. Most Spanish-style rums (Rons) from places like Puerto Rico, Belize and Panama are made broadly the same way. French rum (Rhum) is mostly defined by Rhum Agricole, which is made from the freshly pressed juice of sugar cane. Here we look at 3 rums which express the British/ Spanish styles beautifully and a cachaça offering a more left-field option from Brazil.

carnival blog lets drink rum


They Call Me Mellow Yellow (Donovan)

Before heading to the Caribbean-inspired carnival of Notting Hill, let’s take a quick trip to the carnivals of Brazil, specifically Sao Paulo. Velho Barreiro has been making their cachaça for over 70 years. Similar to Rhum Agricole, cachaça is distilled from sugar cane juice. Velho Barreiro Cachaça’s “Yellow Label” is then rested for a year in wooden barrels made from a unique Brazilian timber called Rose Jequitiba. This imparts a unique set of flavours which are further refined after a second distillation. Retaining a slight sweetness, it has flavours of honey, pepper, a little green pepper, refreshers sugar sweets and barbecued sweetcorn. And how best to enjoy this unique style of rum? In a Caipirinha, of course! Simply smash up some limes and a little sugar in the bottom of a sturdy glass with a rolling pin. Add ice and a solid glug of Yellow Label and… #bobsyouruncle

Velho Barreiro Cachaça "Yellow Label" rum for blog

Golden Brown, Texture Like Sun (The Stranglers)

Don Q Gold Rum lays a legitimate claim to being the rum used in the first-ever Piña Colada. The story goes that in 1954 Ramon “Monchito” Marrero invented the drink while head bartender at the famous Beachcomber Bar of San Juan’s Caribe Hilton Hotel. He mixed freshly squeezed pineapple juice, sweet coconut milk and Don Q Gold in a blender and created what is to many, the quintessential taste of a Caribbean holiday. But that’s only one use for this incredible rum. It’s delicately balanced between a white and a dark rum making it perfect for mixing and delicious straight-up, on the rocks. Imagine bananas barbecuing in their split skins, red apples, singed caramel, vanilla and clove and you’re there. Perfect in a rum punch. Ideal with ginger ale or cola. It’s easy to see why Don Q has been Puerto Rico’s favourite for over 150 years.

don q gold rum blog

Are You Going To Scarborough FAIR (Simon & Garfunkel/ Trad)

The first of our true ‘sippers’, FAIR Belize Rum Extra Age 5-year-old is pretty unique.  Like all FAIR products, the farmers who grow the crops, in this case, sugar cane, are guaranteed a fair price and a fair wage. The sugar cane then heads to a local distillery where it is distilled and matured in ex-Bourbon barrels for 5 years. These American oak barrels bring out some quite high fruit flavours like green pineapple, apricot, and lemon, as well as crystallised ginger and a distinct nuttiness. It’s worth noting that 5 years of barrel maturation in the Caribbean is quite a long time. Warm temperatures allow the timber to expand, opening capillaries and allowing more liquid to penetrate. At night temperatures cool and capillaries contract forcing the liquid out. It’s this interaction that accounts for many of the flavours found in brown spirits. 

fair 5 year old rum belize

Especially For You (Kylie & Jason/ Stock Aitken Waterman)

Lastly, a real favourite of the hometipple Team. The snappily titled Don Q Seleccion Especial Classic Puerto Rican Blend is a classic sipper. It’s blended from a variety of oak-aged rums made by the Serrallés family who’ve been making Don Q since 1865. Definitely one to be enjoyed on its own, it has a wonderful smooth complexity that shines when drunk at room temperature. Flavours of burnt caramel banana bread, pineapple, dark chocolate, green peppercorn and a little coffee at the back make this a rare thing indeed. A crowd pleaser and the connoisseur’s choice. It has a moreish quality greatly helped by a very dry finish that keeps you salivating. And with such well-integrated alcohol, it’s as smooth as a shaved peach dipped in baby oil, covered in velvet. A rum for sunsets and hammocks and sea-breeze-cooled verandahs and the sound of waves gently lapping the sand.

don q puerto rican rum for blog