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Best Rums for Christmas

What rum should you be drinking or gifting this year? Neil Ridley explores the best festive offerings in the world of rum, with bottles to suit every enthusiast’s palate.

Another Christmas looms large and most of us in the UK are already well into the party spirit, despite the cold, blustery weather outside. However if you’re longing for warmer climes and to feel the tropical vibe of the Caribbean – and beyond – what better way than with a few wonderfully distinctive and beautifully crafted rum expressions?

Cognac, brandy, whisky – and fortified wines such as Port and Sherry – tend to be thrust into the spotlight in December. But rum, in its various guises, can transport us to warmer times and exotic locations. That makes it a perfect tipple for fireside sipping, as well as offering rich complexity to Christmas-themed cocktails.

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Rum has officially become the fastest-growing spirits category in the UK and the marketplace has become hugely enriched with new bottles. You can find bright, fresh and fruity white rums from New World locations – even England and Scotland are getting in on the act. As well as darker, heavier, highly expressive cask-aged Caribbean styles, which are beginning to excite even the most ardent single malt whisky connoisseurs.

Elsewhere, distillers are beginning to explore the natural terroir of the raw materials used in making rum, with locally sourced sugar cane and wild yeast strains all bringing a sense of place to the spirit. Here’s a few of my favourite discoveries from this year, with plenty of flavoursome variety to bring some extra Christmas cheer to your drinks cabinet.

Best rums for Christmas

Brugal Colección Visionaria Cacao

For the Dessert Lover 

A very opulent option to pair with your favourite Christmas dessert, this aged rum from the Dominican Republic has been matured in specially selected casks in which cacao beans have first been toasted. This imparts delicate, yet sumptuously aromatic chocolate notes into the rum. Alcohol 45%

Canerock Jamaican Spiced Rum

For the Spice Lover 

Created by rum legend Alexandre Gabriel, the man behind the Plantation brand, Canerock takes spiced rum to a completely different level, bringing highly detailed, warming spiced notes of  Madagascan vanilla pod, Jamaican ginger and Caribbean coconut, alongside a distinctive ester-led Jamaican rum complexity. Try this neat or in a fabulous Rum Old Fashioned. Alc 40%   

Ceylon Arrack

For the Trend Setter 

Emerging as a new trend in rum-style spirits, Ceylon Arrack is the traditional spirit from Sri Lanka, made using the sap from coconut flowers. It was a staple in many classic cocktail books from the late 19th century and has recently seen a resurgence, thanks to its deliciously aromatic, floral sweetness and rich buttery taste. Try it neat, over ice or in a Daiquiri. Alc 40%

Discarded Banana Peel Rum

For the Thrill-Seeker 

This well-rounded and smooth blend of Caribbean rum is infused with waste banana peels, which would have otherwise been discarded (hence the name). Rich and spicy, with a very pronounced caramelised banana note, alongside brown sugar and vanilla sweetness. Alc 37.5% 

DropWorks Funk Drop Rum

For The Overproof Fanatic

This very bold and truly funky English white rum is created using a unique wild yeast strain and distilled in a highly distinctive double retort still, which brings an intensely tropical fruit note to the spirit. Think pineapple, guava and ripe mango. The perfect way to bring some real bite to your favourite cocktails. Alc 63%   

Flor de Cana 18

For the Considered Sipper 

This complex Nicaraguan rum is a perfect fireside sipper, post-Christmas lunch, with a palate full of rich dried fruit, dark chocolate, swathes of vanilla and oaky spices. Try it with cheese too and perhaps even a homemade mince pie. Alc 40% 

Mount Gay Single Estate

For the True Connoisseur 

The first in a series of truly momentous rums for iconic Bajan rum distiller, Mount Gay, the Single Estate releases focus on the terroir of locally grown sugar cane. The molasses used in this limited edition spirit comes from two specific harvests from 2016 and 2017. The resulting rum is wonderfully nutty, with toasted hazelnuts, vanilla pipe tobacco, liquorice spice and bright tropical fruits. Sensational stuff. Alc 55%

Rhum JM Blanc Agricole

For the Cocktail Enthusiast 

Rhum agricole is a specific style of rum from the island of Martinique, and is famed for its fresh, vegetal flavours and slightly savoury-sweet honeyed aroma. It also lends a wonderful complexity to rum cocktails, such as an El Presidente or a fruity Rum Punch. Alc 50%  

Ron Santiago 20 Extra Añejo Gran Reserva

For the No-Nonsense-Classic Rum Lover  

A real treat for Cuban rum lovers, this expression has been matured for two decades in American white oak casks. It’s full of classic dark rum characteristics: roasted pineapple, sweet vanilla, dark chocolate, bonfire toffee and roasted coffee. A spirited festive highlight without doubt. Alc 40%  

Veritas White Rum

For the Daiquiri Lover 

Veritas (which is the Latin for ‘truth’) is a collaboration between Hampden Estate in Jamaica and Foursquare distillery in Barbados, along with a legendary Italian bottler of spirits, Velier. Made from a blend of mostly unaged spirit distilled in column stills at Foursquare and pot still rum from Hampden Estate, the result is a white rum that is textured and heavy, yet mixable and versatile. A real treat for anyone looking to step up their white rum game. Alc 47% 

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