The rise of spice

With a number of more sophisticated and nuanced spiced rums hitting the market in recent times, the category is shaking off its sickly sweet reputation – as Matt Colliard writes in our latest November/December issue.

Rum in general has always been one of the bartender’s most favoured drinks, either as a base spirit in a mixed drink or served neat. Many of us believe that rum will be the new vodka, especially in terms of production and the sheer amount of countries that produce rum. 

Rum is a national symbol of pride and identity in many countries. In Jamaica for example, Rum is used to cure colds, christen newborns and even purify the dead. When building a new house, Rum is often sprinkled to keep away the evil spirits, known as the “Duppies”.

Here in Australia, when good old Captain Bligh was Governor of England’s southern penal colony, the British Pound may have been the ‘official’ currency, but rum was a much more available and happy resource. In fact, the Rum Rebellion of 1808 – the only time that a government has been forcibly removed in Australia’s history – was triggered by the removal of rum as a form of currency!

Such is the importance of rum in our collective history. Now, spiced rum…

In the Caribbean, they’ve been adding spices to their rums for ages, but it wasn’t until the huge success of Captain Morgan – ‘the original spiced Rum’ – in the 1980s, that the category made some serious headway in our local bars and liquor stores.

If you aren’t a rum nerd, you might not have noticed the large increase in the amount of spiced rum available on the shelf in the last few years – with easily more spiced rums available than days of the week. Captain Morgan once had control of the lion’s share, but that certainly hasn’t stopped others from joining the fray; The Kraken, Sailor Jerry, and just last year, Baron Samedi – a smooth and rich Haitian rum that features natural ingredients including vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, clove and vetiver.

The latest to jump on board the spiced rum train, Asahi Premium Beverages recently released its Untold Spiced Rum, so named after the inventive and creative process that went into its creation. Bringing together the talents of Dave Kerr (The Beaufort), Nathan Beasley (Black Pearl), Dre Walters (Lobo Plantation) and Oscar Eastman (ex-Eau de Vie), Kerr describes Untold as a “versatile product” or “blank canvas” which can be enjoyed in any way you (or your patrons) please.

Its easy drinking nature and numerous mixing options are one thing, but what I personally love most about Untold is the packaging, accessible for both men and women by bucking the ‘rum and pirates’ storyline that dominates the market.

The unique bottle design, created by Aussie artists Andrew Archer and Tim Phibs, instead shoots for a colourful and urban feel. The bartenders in this case certainly had a point to prove about what bartenders do best, providing a tasty mixable option, but also a product that can also be enjoyed over ice or simply straight up.

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