Rum is the New Whiskey”

Rum is the new whiskey (© Guido Klaumann)

The old mariners’ drink is far more than just an ingredient in cocktails or grog: More and more aficionados are discovering this distillate of sugarcane as a new and premium delicacy, which is best taken neat—not only in Mojitos and Cuba Libres!

Throughout history it has been used as a means of paying sailors, a high-proof intoxicant, and even a shampoo to strengthen hair roots. But today, people like Dirk Becker from Berlin are promoting premium rum to the connoisseur community. To this end he will do almost anything to make one of the world’s oldest liquors, a pure and aromatic delicacy, more accessible to Germans. Becker has been named German Rum Ambassador, is the organizer of the German Rum Festival in Berlin, and manages what is probably the largest specialist rum store of its type. In his professional opinion: “Rum is the new whiskey.”

The firewater recenty gains a new image. (© Guido Klaumann)

The firewater recenty gains a new image. (© Guido Klaumann)

For many years, this cask-aged firewater had a big image problem. But now more and more Germans have come to appreciate that rum packs a burst of Caribbean sunshine that is so much more than just a party tipple with cola. Recently, trends are moving towards rum being served at its best: Neat in a glass – no mint leaves, no coconut cream, no lime juice. But however they are drinking it, there were around 2.29 million people in the German-speaking world who admitted to having bought or consumed rum in the 14 days before being interviewed in a survey conducted in 2015.

The growing interest here in Germany can be seen in bars like the “Roosevelt” in Munich or the “Rum Trader” in Berlin, which specialize in the traditional navy drink, stocking more than 100 varieties from all over the world. Trade fairs are an even bigger hallmark of this trend: This year will see the sixth annual German Rum Festival take place on October 15 and 16 in Berlin. 65 exhibitors, more than 105 brands and over 400 varieties and bottles will be celebrated—true to the fair’s theme “Around the World”. Finest Spirits, one of the notable liquor trade fairs in this country, which takes place in Munich, also turned its spotlight on the sugarcane distillate as early as two years ago.

Store-owner and author Andreas Schwarz sees rum as the new on-trend delicacy, racking up lots of fevered interest in his tasting events. Just a few years ago, he shared his expertise about the complexity of rum and all the old stories that reveal its history just three times a year. Today, he is regularly booked up and he raises his tasting glasses containing the finest nectars of the Caribbean several times a month. He is sure of one thing: “The rum renaissance is in full swing.”

One of the best-known rum lovers was Horatio Nelson, the British Admiral. He once stipulated that, in the event of his death, his body should be conserved in a barrel of his coveted liquor, and so, when Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 in a hail of French bullets, he really was conveyed to London in a rum-soaked coffin.

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).