The rise of rum – how to taste it and which brands to try

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Leeds Rum Fest is returning to the city’s historic Corn Exchange for its fifth birthday.

Tickets are currently on sale priced at £30 for the event which promises to “pull out all the stops” to celebrate life after lockdown on Saturday 9 October.

Rum is growing in popularity, with the luxury brands expected to benefit as consumers decide to drink less but better quality. The spirit which has often be cited as the next spirit to receive the craft spirit revival following the success of gin last year became the tipple of lockdown, and is now ready to take over the city again.

This year’s event is promising rum aficionados and spirit newbies alike the opportunity to see hundreds of rums, professional masterclasses and cocktail making experiences alongside live music and entertainment.

Ahead of the event caught up with Lee Jones, creative director at Rolling Social Events which is hosting the event to talk all things rum and to get some top tasting tips and his suggestions for ones to try while attending the festival.

Jones noted that they were excited to return to the festivals “home” at the Corn Exchange post-lockdown.

Explaining that the festival will host over 100 different rums to sample he said that the trick is to try not to be overcome and to actually “taste the neat rum”.

With that in mind here are Jones’s top tips for sampling the spirit:

  1. Hold your horses, don’t sip it just yet….Gently nose (smell) the aroma because there’s likely to be a lot of heat from the alcohol. Make a note of your initial impression – is it sweet or dry? Light or heavy? Hot or gentle?
  2. Now nose again. Is it fruity or floral? If so, what kind of fruit – dried, tropical or crisp? If you get spice, what kind of spices? Cinnamon, anise or allspice, maybe? Can you get some caramel, vanilla or chocolate? Don’t rush. Relax and let the flavours come to you.
  3. Now taste. Sip and think about texture. Hot or smooth, dry or sweet. Does it spread across your palate or disappear quickly. Repeat and think more about where the flavours appear on your tongue – is it balanced?
  4. Finally, add some water and repeat the process – this will help release more aromatics.
  5. Most importantly enjoy the experience

But with so many rums on offer, we asked if there were three Jones was particularly excited about.

Despite protestations that picking three was too difficult here are his answer:

Duppy White, the latest release from The Duppy Share which has lots of juicy mango, pimento and banana notes

Diplomatico Reserva Exlcusiva – the ultimate sipping rum for anyone wanting to get into the spirit

Berry Bros Guatemalan blend is from the oldest spirit merchants in England and it doesn’t disappoint expect an unusual palate of arrowroot and curry leaf

Find out more about the Rum Festival and purchase your tickets here.