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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

The best value rum in the world (well, in Reigate) ...

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

So, what's the best value rum in the world? Or, more realistically, what's the best value rum behind a small but rather well-endowed bar in Surrey, England 😁

As this is going to be comically subjective, I'm taking the approach of presenting the case for 3 rums that I consider to be off the scale when comparing their quality vs their cost. Hopefully, my waffle will cover some of the merits & key factors influencing value, before crowning my winner. Enjoy.

It's worth pointing out, before I go on, that the price of rum is not solely controlled by the manufacturer and that secondary market prices & unscrupulous retailers can quickly, and dramatically, inflate prices. For this article, I'm focussing on the RRP when considering value.

Number 1 - Unaged Cane Juice Rum.

Rhum Blanc from Bielle Distillery on Marie-Galante.

59% ABV. A 1-litre bottle of this is available for around £30 (50cl pictured was c.£20). 88pts

Why is this great value...?

  • A traditionally made rhum, the cane is hand-cut and transported from field to distillery, across this stunning little island, by ox-cart!

  • Made of pure sugar cane juice. Due to its very short shelf life, working with cane juice is much more costly than using molasses.

  • Made entirely from relatively low yield, exceptional quality, cane grown locally on the island

  • Slow natural fermentation, followed by distillation in a traditional small Coffey column still.

  • Minimal dilution leaving a bold, flavourful 59%

  • I make no excuse for the fact that this is an exciting rhum. It will slap you round the face with olives, brine and overripe tropical fruit. While at the same time, tickling your taste buds and luring you back for more, with beautiful, floral, grassy, juicy, tropical gorgeousness.

  • Make a daiquiri, or sip it neat. This is a great value rhum that most overlook.

Number 2 - Worthy Park Rum, Jamaica.

Worthy Park WPL 2007 bottled by Habitation Velier

59%, I paid £80 for this, last time I looked there were still a few bottles around for c.£100. 91pts

Why is this great value...?

  • Worthy Park is the lesser-known gem from Jamaica. Often overshadowed by the big names of Hampden, Appleton & Long Pond. They only recently, (in 2005), restarted production after many years closed due to a prolonged downturn in global demand for rum and low sugar prices. To those in the know, their rums rightly stand shoulder to shoulder with the best from the island.

  • Uniquely, Worthy Park grow their own cane in the beautiful Lluidas Vale surrounding the estate. The cane is cut, crushed, fermented, distilled and aged at the distillery. A true (and very rare) cane to glass experience.

  • 100% pot stilled on their Forsyths Still. Resulting in a wonderful, funky, overripe banana & tropical flavour.

  • 10 years of tropical ageing, at the distillery. That not only means tying your money up for 10 years but also the huge 'angel's share' (evaporation) from a tropical climate - in this case nearly 10% per year ... resulting in a massive 64% loss [as you can see on the label]. Compared to av. 2% for continental aging (Equiv. 19% loss)

  • That tropical ageing is expensive, but the angels share is not the only thing that is increases. The interaction with the oak barrel, which transforms the characteristics, colour and flavour of the rum, also speeds up. It's not an exact science and slow ageing produces a different end result, however, as a rough rule of thumb, this 10 years of tropical ageing can be compared to over 30 years of continental ageing (the colour and flavour pay testament to this). Have you seen the price of 30 year aged Scotch from one of the world's best distilleries... ;-)

  • Collaboration with Habitation Velier, described not as an independent bottler but rather as a dependant bottler, working closely with the distillery to bring the distinct and wonderful flavours of this rum to drinkers around the world. Luca Gargano from Velier chose incredibly well when he picked the barrels for this bottling (along with the 2006 WPM, these two Velier bottlings are comfortably the best ever examples of Worthy Park rum)

  • No colours or flavours added - pure honest delicious rum. Worthy Park has a very distinctive tropical banana profile. Funky, as would be expected from Jamaican rum, but with a more fruity and less of a vinegar led profile than Hampden or Long Pond as they don't use dunder.

  • Only diluted to a generous 59% (average rums are 40% in the UK). Further dilution is commercially attractive but a travesty for flavour. If you watered this down to 40%, you'd have 50% more rum, which you can do, I prefer to drink it at bottle strength. Massive flavour and massive value :-)

  • {Under £50 alternative I also highly recommend - Worthy Park estate bottled 45%}

Number 3 - And overall champion - Foursquare Rum

Exceptional Cask Series (pick below is release 9 - Empery) 91 pts

56% abv, I paid £65 for this bottle, Empery are now sold out but even the auction prices of around £100 are a steal. Foursquare release 2-3 exceptional cask series rums a year, limited to around 10,000 bottles, they are real bargains at £60-£100, but you have to be quick to pick one up.

Why are these such great value...?

  • 14 years of tropical ageing - as with the Worthy Park, this is an incredibly expensive process. Foursquare see over 7% angels share, so - for the 14 years of this particular release, as well as tying up funds, they saw a loss of over 65% of the rum!! Sounds nuts, but they also see a similarly rapid level of barrel interaction and it would be reasonable to equate the end product to a 30+ year continentally aged spirit.

  • Barrel choice - the previous use (or uses) of barrels selected to age rum make a profound difference to the end product. In terms of value - there is a vast cost difference between an old barrel with many previous 'lives' to one that has only been used once to age a very fine spirit. Richard Seale of Foursquare is a true talisman, leading the way in the rum revolution. His openness and honesty about the production of his rums are a breath of fresh air. For the exceptional cask series Richard sources some fantastic barrels that have previously been used to age premium ports, sherries, madeiras, bourbons etc etc. These give each release a unique and delicious flavour. [Empery was aged initially in ex-bourbon and for it's latter years in ex-sherry, resulting is a sublime vanilla cream flavour with a long raisiny finish]

  • Rarity of a limited release - on average only about 5-15k bottles of each exceptional cask series rum are made. This uniqueness and rarity adds to the value and excitement of these special rums.

  • Abv - as discussed earlier, a higher strength offers a superior flavour and texture, and is a clear sign that the master distiller is putting quality above cost. Recent bottles in the exceptional cask series have averaged around 59% [Empery is 56%]. Stunning sipping rums that reward the drinker with a long, deep, complex, satisfying taste.

  • Honest rum, obviously - no added sugar, colour, flavour or chill filtration - as of course you would expect from Mr Richard Seale.

  • So, keep your eyes peels and try to get your hands on a bottle of these incredible artisan rums.

  • {Under £50 alternative I also highly recommend by Foursquare - Doorly's 12}

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