Published on October 25th, 2018 | by Gavin0
Rumfest 2018: 8 New Rums to Try
It’s been three years since I last attended UK Rumfest, but my adulation for the greatest rum show on earth has never faded. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder, and I wasn’t disappointed with my triumphant return, as Rumfest 2018 was bigger and better than ever.
Now in its 12th year, Rumfest has grown from an intimate show for like minded drinkers, into a mass market spectacle featuring masterclasses, seminars, auctions, and the much loved ‘Carnival Hour’. This year featured over 400 rums, and despite my best efforts, I failed in my attempts to sample all of them (remember to drink responsibly!).
Rum has long been promoted as the party favourite, with an emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Rum is still very much all about the fun, but not many people get to see the side that would much rather read a good book than abseil off Table Mountain. And that’s what I love about Rumfest- it has educated the masses and slowly starting to changing the mindset. The modern rum lover is more discerning, knowledgeable, and less tolerant of substandard rocket fuel, and with that, there has been an explosion of new rums to cater to this growing market, and Rumfest features some of the biggest names in the business.
In typically hipster fashion, I decided to forego old favourites such as Angostura 1919 and St Nicholas Abbey 12 year old to concentrate my efforts on trying new and limited edition products. Warning: I’m a bit of a snob, so if you are looking for spiced, sugary or with additives, you’ve come to the wrong place. After wading through my fair share, here are my 10 favourites from Rumfest 2018:
Mhoba Pot Stilled White, 43% ABV, South Africa
I must admit that I’m not usually a fan of agricole (rum made from cane juice rather than molasses), however this South African import made me think twice. Rhum Agricole is typically much sharper, but this 43% white rum was much more subtle.
One of the most unique characteristics of Mhoba is that the entire process from farming the cane to bottling is all completed within the district of Nkomazi. They take pride in the fact that their production is small, which allows them much more control over what they produce, and it certainly showed in the eight rums displayed. In fact, it was certainly the most talked about with all the revellers I met, and arguably, could be considered the people’s champion of Rumfest 2018.
Hampden Estate Pure Single, 46% ABV, Jamaica
Hampden is one of the oldest rum distillers on the planet, but they’ve only started producing products in their own name in recent years. Their latest 8 year old rum, Hampden Estate Pure Single could be the one to push Hampden into the mainstream. They have gone all in with the release of this and a 60% overproof variant, and the gamble is looking like it will pay off, winning awards around the globe despite only officially launching this month.
Foursquare Premise, 40% ABV, Barbados
The Foursquare rum distillery in Barbados is producing the widest variety of quality rums available on the market today. Not only do they distill under their own name, but they also produce the liquid for many other beloved brands including St Nicholas Abbey, Plantation, Doorlys, and many more. Under the Foursquare banner, they produce a number of limited editions that often sell out within weeks of bottling. I was lucky enough to taste the latest to come out of the estate, Premise 10 year old. Get your hands on it before it’s too late!
Plantation Pineapple, 40% ABV, Trinidad
Not yet a household name in the UK, but it really should be. Plantation is creating the most innovative rums in the world, and every single bottle could make this list. The pineapple gets the nod because of how different it is to everything else on the market. Made by infusing their Original Dark and 3 Star White rums with Victoria pineapples, the taste is best described as having all the flavour of a pineapple liqueur, without the sickly sugar base.
Dos Maderas 5+5 Triple Aged, 40% ABV, Spain
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the entire Dos Maderas range. With a complicated aging (too complicated to explain in a couple of sentences) and an even more complex blending process involving Guyana, Barbados, Spain, sherry and Pedro Ximenez casks, I was bamboozled before my first sip. But from then onwards it was pure delight. You really can’t go wrong with any of the four, and starting from about £25, offer good value for money.
William Hinton Maldita Craft Beer, 42% ABV, Portugal
William Hinton is a Madeira based distillery with a long history of rum production dating back to the 19th Century. However, production was restarted in 2006 by William Hinton’s heirs and they now have a number of rums that they are now introducing to the UK market. The Maldita craft beer rum is on the list for its uniqueness. I wouldn’t call it beer flavoured, but I wouldn’t call it rum either- it’s in a category of its own. Try it and you’ll understand what I mean.
New Grove 5 Year Old, 40% ABV, Mauritius
I’m always up for trying rums from exotic locations, so my eyes were instantly drawn to New Grove. With a caramel-like finish, I’m not entirely convinced that the 5 year old is completely free from additives, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Bimber, 40% ABV, UK
I couldn’t complete this list without a rum from our very own shores, and for bonus points, Bimber is even distilled in London (they also produce gin and vodka). This pot and column still blended rum was pleasant enough and I would love to try it in a daiquiri. However don’t expect to see it at any bar just yet, the first batch was bottled days before Rumfest in order to launch it especially for the show.