Maybe it's because I went around Central America last year and started loving the stuff. Perhaps it's because I watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie this week and it still holds up.
Or perhaps it’s just because it’s Tuesday and I’m starting to look forward to the weekend – but I’ve decided to pelt you with loads of information about rum.
In order to do so, I went down to The Liars Club, who take pride in stocking over 100 bottles of the stuff from all over the world. Here’s a snippet of what’s on offer…
Barbados is home to the world’s oldest commercial rum distiller, and therefore pretty much deserves the crown as the centre of the rum producing world. Ever since the crop was introduced to the area by European ‘settlers’, Barbados has grown it, with rum now being one of the fundamentals of their whole culture, and clearly something they take very seriously.
The Liars Club have a huge range of Barbados rums including many blends of Mount Gay and Doorlys. They also serve The Real McCoy (named after the founder – a rum runner during the Prohibition, who transported the drink from the island to NY), as well as the sublime Plantation Grand Cru. Top of my list however would be the RL Seals 10 Year which is smoother than a Snooker Ball with alopecia.
Growing up I always thought of Colombia as a bit rough – to put it mildly, and what with Pablo Escobar blowing up planes and bombing shopping centres, it’s not hard to see why. The country has had its problems in the past, but now it’s safe as houses and I can honestly say that it’s probably one of the best places I’ve ever visited.
At the Liars Club they stock La Hechicera (Pronounced ‘etch-ee-seh-rah’) which literally translates as ‘enchantress’ in Spanish. Produced at a small family-run distillery near Cartagena, La Hechicera is an ‘unpolished’ rum – meaning it has no additional additives or sugar added at the end. This gives you a deep woodiness with scents of toffee and orange peel – topped off with notes of tobacco and roasted coffee. Everything you’d expect coming from Colombia basically.
Antigua is an absolutely stunning island paradise in the Caribbean Sea, providing the kind of clear seas and sandy beaches you’d likely find in a Sandals brochure in your local travel agents. As with most of the islands and countries in the region, they have been producing rum for hundreds of years, with Liars Club stocking the island’s biggest and most popular – English Harbour. This rum has won more awards than Meryl Streep and rightly so – it’s an absolutely cracking drink, perfect for cocktails – or just to sip on its own with ice.
I never knew that Bacardi came from Puerto Rico until now. Well, until the hurricane there recently caused Bacardi to pledge aid with the re-building process and help the people of the small island get back on their feet and get back to making probably the most well-known rum in the world.
Upon further investigation though, the long history of Bacardi is a bit all over the place, with it being founded in Cuba in 1862 and continuing to be produced there until the Cuban Revolution. Since then it moved to Puerto Rico and you will not find Bacardi anywhere in Cuba – no matter where you look.
One place you will find it is Liars Club though and as you’d expect they have an absolutely huge range of weird and wonderful blends. One is Bacardi Reserva Limitada, a super rare and (limited) bottle that was initially only available in the Bacardi Rum Tour gift shop. It has a splendidly rich and complex flavour, with notes of fruit, vanilla and spice.
Additionally, Liars Club also stock the Puerto Rico legend Don Q Rum which is the best-selling rum within Puerto Rico with over 70% of all rum sales on the island. It’s been produced on the island since 1865 and as well as being popular with Puerto Ricans, it’s also a favourite of Marky Mark Wahlberg. Probably gives him Good Vibrations. Sorry.
Who’d have thought the Germans could make rum? Well of course they can – they can do anything they put their mind to. Clearly not satisfied with producing some of the best beers in the world, what with that 4 ingredients only thing, they’ve now moved onto Rum with Bonpland Rouge, a unique blend of Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Guatemala, and Nicaragua rums.
This rum is rather special insofar that the Germans then mature it in Pinot Noir barrels (hence the ‘Rouge’) which gives it further hints of chocolate, raisins and red berries – perfect for warming your winter cockles this Christmas. Preferably with cheese.
Years ago people scoffed when the Japanese started making Whiskey. Look at them now though. They create some of the best and most revered whiskeys in the world, giving the Scottish a run for their money any day of the week.
Well it looks like they might be turning their hand to Rum too with Ryoma 7 Year which uses high-quality Japanese ingredients combined with traditional foreign methods to produce a unique and refined taste. The sugarcane used to make Ryoma is grown by the oldest sugarcane farm in Japan giving the drink a taste of rich vanilla and caramel.
I was in Nicaragua over Christmas last year and it was truly one of the best places I’ve ever been. Slap bang in the middle of Central America, Nicaragua is not only cheap, but there’s a million things to do, from surfing right up to surfing down the side of a bloody volcano on a bit of wood. It’s also home to Flor de Cana, one of my new favourite rums and one that can be quite difficult to find in the UK.
If you’re in Liars Club though you’re in luck because they stock a couple of blends, including the Reserva, their Centenario 12 and the Centenario 18. It’s a cracking rum, with almond and cherry flavours – perfect with some full fat Coke and ice. Buy yourself a Nicaraguan Cigar to go with it too, ideally whilst sitting by a roaring open fire in a cravat.
Tropical and densely forested, Guyana is one of South America’s great hidden gems, and is slowly turning itself into a world-class eco-tourism destination. Plonked right at the top of the continent, Guyana shares borders with the rest of South America, but culturally and historically it is more closely linked to the Caribbean region. These links continue with their love of rum, with El Dorado being their biggest producer.
El Dorado has become much more prevalent in the UK in recent years, and you can find it in most large supermarkets nowadays. The Liars Club is no different, with a range of El Dorado blends stretching from 12 years old right up to 21 years. It’s a multi-award winning rum, which provides a sweet mellow taste that’s perfect in a Mai Tai.
Additionally, perfect for the winter months, Liars also stock XM VXO (Very eXtra Old) 7 year rum, with flavours of winter spice, chocolate and tropical fruits.
Ahh yes – Jamaica, home of my absolute favourite rum in the world – Wray and Nephews Overproof. Coming in at a whopping 63% it’s one of the strongest spirits money can buy and is definitely not for any lightweights amongst you. Perfect in a cocktail, it’s also my absolute pleasure to buy a few tins of Ting from Tesco and get absolutely blotto’ed while watching Robocop. In fact, The Banana Drink at Liars contains Wray and Nephews and it’s amazing.
Elsewhere in Jamaica you can expect to find Appleton rum, which coincidentally was bought out by Wray and Nephews a few years back. Over 90% of all rum drunk in Jamaica is owned by Wray and Nephews and the majority of that will be Appleton. Liars stock a wide range of variations and blends including Rare, Reserve, 21 Year and ‘Joy‘ – which celebrates the 20 year tenure of master blender Joy Spence with a combination of rums aged between 25 and 35 years old.
Well known for their cigars, revolution and rum, Cuba has recently opened its borders to the USA – so it might be a good idea to head there before they start erecting Wendy’s everywhere and Disneyland Havana opens. Nestled on the cusp of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, the tropical climate is perfect for making rum, and the island is home to one of the biggest producers in the world – Havana.
Initially created in 1934, Havana is pretty much everywhere now and as you’d expect The Liar’s Club have copious bottles and variations available. Probably the most popular is Havana 15 Year but they also stock the rocket-fuel ‘Selección de Maestros‘ – a special “Cuban Barrel Proof” grade rum equalling 45% ABV. The casks this rum is matured in are picked by the ‘maestros roneros’ – hence the name – who could be considered the Obi Wan Kenobi’s of the rum world – so it’s good stuff.
Liar’s Club also stock Ron Cubay, a rum which was only available within Cuba until recently. Since 2010 they’ve let the rest of us give it a try and it still provides one of the most authentic Cuban rum experiences you can have. Perfect for a Cuba Libre.
Haiti is home to Clairin Sajous – one of the strangest and most unique rums available anywhere in the world, and one that you are unlikely to ever really see off the island. Luckily for everyone though, Liars Club stock it and so you can experience this wonderful rum with your own tongue and throat.
It’s produced in a rather rudimentary way, with locally grown sugar cane and concentrated cane juices. It’s then fermented with wild yeast, then distilled twice and bottled at a staggering 53.5% ABV. I recommend you give it a try!
If you’re looking for a more traditional, but by no means any less special Haitian rum, Liars Club also stock Barbancourt 3 and 5 star, the rum you will see pretty much everyone downing on the island.
The Liars Club have over 100 bottles of Rum from all over the world. For more information on these, it’s best to speak to their very knowledgeable staff members. Maybe not on a Friday night though.
The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge St, Manchester M3 2PB
0161 834 5111