A rum resurgence on the cards for South Africa

No longer just the drink of pirates, rum has been growing in popularity around the globe in recent years to muscle into the territory previously claimed by whisky and gin.

With those in the know in the liquor industry tipping rum as the next trend, there have been whispers for the past two years that the spirit would overtake gin as the next big thing – and 2018 was even tipped as “the year of rum”. In the United Kingdom, rum sales topped £1billion-a-year in early 2018 for the first time, following the trail blazed by the gin craze. According to Harper’s Bazaar, it is a drink particularly favoured by millennials, with 80% 25-34 year olds regularly enjoying the tipple.

Three years ago, data insight experts CGA said golden rum would be next big trend in the spirits category, outpacing gin by 2020. With gin bars exploding on every corner from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, this might seem far-fetched –for now.

“Are we quite there yet? I think the public haven’t quite kicked their gin habit, but there is definitely interest sparking in rum, and rightly so because it is the most playful of all the spirits and pairs wonderfully with most juices and mixers,” says Ludgero da Cruz, co-owner of Cover Distributions. Together with Douglas Oberwortmann, da Cruz is responsible for bringing Richland Rum, America’s only single-estate, single-barrel rum, to South Africa.

“Rum can be enjoyed neat, with a block of ice or as most people know it best, in a wide variety of delicious cocktails including daiquiri or Mai Tai,” Oberwortmann said. “I believe its versatility, combined with its laid-back image, will win some of the excellent new craft rums coming onto the market, a place in the bar.”

In South Africa, a country with prolific sugar cane production, there are more than 10 distilleries crafting the spirit. Rum is, by law, to be made using either sugar or sugar cane by-products like molasses. Even popular food blogger Samantha Linsell got in on the action, mixing rum with mango, jalapeño and mint to create a delicious spicy mojito cocktail. “Because of rum’s versatility, it has the potential to be as much fun during the cooler winter months as it does during the hot summer months,” Cruz says.

Four expressions of Richland Rum are now available in South Africa – Virgin Coastal Georgia Rum, Old South Georgia Rum, Chateau Elan Port Cask Exchange and Old South Georgia Rum Terrapin Double IPA Cask Exchange. The Virgin Coastal is your better option for mixing into Summer Cocktails, whereas the IPA is enjoyed best as a winter sipper on a block of ice.

As writer Brian D’Ambrosio says: “Rum is tonic that clarifies the vision, and sets things in true perspective.”

Richland Rum is available at Liquor City Claremont, Bar Keeper, and Norman Goodfellows.

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