Friday, 4 February 2011

Valentine's day: A rum deal

Long-term readers of this blog will know I'm partial to a moderate drop of single malt whisky. There is a lot of variety in this and you don't just get the same thing over and over again - but all the same you can feel like a change.

"Not drinking a spirit" is of course a change you might welcome, reasonably enough. As a country we drink too much. I was intrigued, though, when I was contacted by the people at Mount Gay Rum. They have three bottlings on offer at the moment; the ultra-expensive £125 a throw 1703 Old Cask selection (which I haven't tried), Extra Old (pictured, £37.49, which I have) and Eclipse (£16.99).

The Extra Old was a bit of a revelation to me - reminded me of the first time I tried a single malt that was to my taste, when I'd previously been used to rather harsher blends. There is intense sweetness but also a buttery richness, plus an overwhelming sense of warmth. A lot of this will be down to the 43 per cent alcohol - treat this with care and drink only in moderation. It's seriously delicious as an occasional treat.

Eclipse is more of an easy drinking rum, you'd feel better about putting it into a cocktail or - if you insist - pouring coke or blackcurrent cordial all over it (I would never recommend doing that to any drink on which you've spent more than £30 per bottle).  The Extra Old has opened up a whole new area of interest for me, and if you want a good quality substitute for a post-dinner liqueur for a change it's well worth putting on your Valentine's wants list.

Last time I'd tried a premium rum was at a food show in London. The stand was full of seriously relaxed Jamaicans, who scoffed a bit at the one I was going to try - "In Jamaica we'd call that a lady's drink," they told me, casting political correctness aside completely. I tried it, and am still surprised their ladies can walk.

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