WORDS Michaela Stehr PHOTOS Supplied
Although pirates, islands and shipwrecks immediately spring to mind at the mention of rum, local artisans are bringing some Mzansi spice to this coveted tropical drink.
In 2016, James Copeland had an idea to bring exotic spirits to the forefront of the South African booze industry. Using the finest African molasses, raw ingredients and botanicals, James chose to be innovative with classic spirits, and put a spin on the traditional. In this rum, you can expect hints of pineapple, litchi skin, cacao and liquorice on the nose, while flashes of treacle, spun sugar, roast pineapple and jammy fruit should please your palate.
Die Warm Rusta Rum
De Vry Distillery’s Die Warm Rasta
Rum is aged in a maturation cellar situated in the Free State farmlands. There, the combination of specially charred barrels and the area’s climate results in a unique molasses ferment that expresses notes of cigar smoke and oak, with a lingering sweet finish.
Pretoria-based micro-distillery 25 Degrees South has created a rum that exhibits notes of sweet butterscotch, vanilla and sugary fruit. A rounded and smooth mouthfeel displays sweet molasses on the palate, with bottom notes of bold citrus. Distilled in pot stills, the rum is patiently matured, and the result is a full-bodied drink that’s great by itself or mixed.
Cape of Storms Oak Infused Rum
This Cape Town- based distillery offers small-batch, sugar-free rum that combines a centuries-old Caribbean rum-making technique with naturally strong African blackstrap molasses. The result? A lip-smacking drink devoid of any mass-produced spirits, additives or sugars that could alter the flavour of the final product. The Cape of Storms range also includes the Great White Rum and the Fyn Botanical Rum.
This dark craft rum is perfect for rum beginners – but it holds its own among experienced connoisseurs too. Created by a group of friends who wanted to make an accessible spirit that encapsulates the diversity of South Africa, the syrupy drink is best enjoyed with a mixer such as Coke or ginger ale. For those looking for something a bit more elegant, it can also be served classically on the rocks.
Mhoba Pot Stilled Rum
In contrast to most distillers, who fashion rum from molasses, Mhoba produces single-origin pure Agricole-style rum from sugarcane juice. This juice is extracted from the organic sugarcane farmed on the Mhoba Sugar Estate in Mpumalanga. As owner Robert Greaves explains, “Today, many spirits, including rums, are flavoured and adjusted. Big producers – and even some smaller ones – are adding various ingredients to their spirits, such as sugar, caramel or even glycerine, which means they’re not true artisanal spirits. Our rum is a pure single sugarcane rum – the rum equivalent of a single malt whisky.”