Things are finally looking up for rum lovers. After earning the questionable reputation of being a ‘cheap party alcohol’, rum has redefined itself as a premium luxury alcohol, and is catching up to its dark spirit competitors—somewhat similar to what tequila is currently going through.
The Revival of Rum
Not so long ago, the only rums you could lay your hands on in India were the nostalgia-drenched Old Monk (it was the world’s largest selling dark rum until 2013) and Amrut Two Indies. This, while gin was kicking up a storm with multiple homegrown labels. But a rum resurrection of sorts is now brewing with young alcohol and beverage entrepreneurs venturing into premium rums that are not cloyingly sweet or unnecessarily spiked with additives.
The cocktail renaissance and introduction of spiced and flavoured variants have also helped the dark spirit. “The wind is blowing in the opposite direction for the rum market, which may be good news for India. Small batch craft rums have been doing really well. Ever since the pandemic, people have been shifting from their regular rums to premium rums, which is growing steadily. I believe rums will gain prominence in the coming year as consumers become more open to new experiences, resulting in a revolution in the industry,” says Kunal Patel, Managing Partner at Monika Enterprises, one of the biggest importers of foreign liquor in the country.
The growing popularity of the spirit even prompted Ritz Carlton, Bengaluru to launch RumBah—India’s first high-end lounge bar dedicated to rum in 2019.
The Right Way to Enjoy Rum
While undoubtedly delicious, rum can also be one of the most confusing spirits as it can be made in several different places and in several different ways (white, aged, agricole, black strap, spiced, and so on). “The overarching profile of rum is sweet, toasted sugar…a lot like caramel. Hence, it can be enjoyed just like whisky with a splash of water or ice. Some people tend to add a slice of lime to get a citrusy note to balance out the sweetness. However, a good quality, aged rum is best enjoyed neat in a small glass, warmed between the hands and sipped slowly and deliberately. Also, a rum based old fashioned has become a favourite for many,” says Sarath Nair, Bar Manager, Copitas, Four Seasons Hotel, Bengaluru. Pairing a good, aged rum with smoked kebabs, dark chocolate, mushrooms and gamey meats will elevate the experience further.