An impressive selection of rums on the Sense of Taste shelves goes someway to dispelling a misconception this liquid gold is not as premium as Scotch or American whiskies.
While customers are happy to spend up towards, and sometimes beyond, the $100 mark for a good whisky, it’s often not the case when it comes to buying rum.
Not disparaging trusty favourite Bundy Rum, it’s still the biggest seller, but if you’re willing to spend a bit more, there’s an exciting market out there.
Tim, from the Portside store, gave me a tour of the rum rack.
On styling alone, Plantation Rums from Barbados are a standout with their colourful labelling and rafia-wrapped bottles.
A French company, Plantation Rums sources rum from all over the world, ships it back to Barbados where it is aged in bourbon barrels. It is then sent to France, where it is further aged for two years in ex-cognac barrels.
Among the range is a 14-year-old Australian Plantation Rum, which originated from the Beenleigh distillery ($155.99).
Plantation’s Single Cask Rums (the ones with the black labels) are further aged in selected beer, wine or spirit barrels. For instance, Plantation Peru ($214.99) is further aged in rye whisky barrels.
If you’re just starting to test the waters with rum, Tim suggests Venezuelan brand Diplomatico as a good starting point. It’s popular for its sweet, brown sugar, caramel and cinnamon flavour notes.
It’s extremely versatile in that it lends itself to sipping but can be used as a mixer in cocktails.
El Dorado, out of Guyana, is also an excellent sipping rum, with their range including a collection of aged rums varying from 3 to 25-years-old.
Fijian rum Ratu ($59.99) is good value with their dark, spiced and signature blend varieties.
Ratu rums are filtered through coconut shell charcoal to help capture the “pure taste’’ of Fiji, then matured in specially selected oak vats and barrels.
Tim says Australian distillers have upped their game in terms of quality, with award-winning rums coming out of the Beenleigh Rum Distillery – Australia’s oldest operating distillery.
Finally, if you have a lazy $2500 you could get your hands on a bottle of the 30-year-old single barrel Flor de Cana from Nicaragua.
There were only 411 bottles of this produced, and Sense of Taste at Portside has two.
Beautifully packaged, it features a bottle cap crafted from volcanic rock and the signatures of the five family generations behind the company.