Ahoy! Set a course for Spiced Rum today.

No drunken sailors but plenty of adventurers are embracing the Spiced Rum revolution – don’t miss the boat.

Quick Guide

Spiced Rum

What is it?

Rum that has been infused with the flavours of aromatic spices to create a spirit that can be drunk neat, over ice or used as an exotic mixer for cocktails.

Where's it from?

Predominantly the Caribbean, although rum is produced throughout the world.

What does it taste like?

Distilled from sugar cane and its by-products, spiced rum has sweet base notes, flavoured by whatever spice infusion has been added. Often, these comprise caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, and pepper.

Tip

Always chill your glassware when serving mixed drinks or cocktails, it makes everything taste better; lime wedges also work really well with spiced rum, whichever brand you favour.

 

Spiced Rum History

To get to the history of Spiced Rum, you’ve got to start with Rum Rum, that is, the core spirit of rum produced from sugar cane (or its by-products). Whilst this basic premise (a sugar-based fermented spirit) dates back thousands of years, ‘modern’ rum as we know it today originated in the Caribbean in the 1600s, where sugar cane plantations were prolific.
 
Rum’s popularity, growth and influence became inexorably linked with the slave trade in a Catch 22 situation; plantation slaves who originally ‘discovered’ how to ferment rum from molasses were then required in greater and greater numbers to manage the ever-growing sugar cane plantations being developed to feed the ever-growing rum demand.
 
Nowadays rum is produced in many countries around the world, but only a few brands have started to reintroduce the ancient sailors’ art of mixing spices to base rum to improve its (as it was then) harsh flavour. Producers now are using excellent quality base rum and extending its reach, popularity and possibilities by introducing exotic flavours and nuances through spice infusions.
 
In general, good spiced rum is crafted using the more expensive gold rum as a base, with the addition of spices such as vanilla, clove, cinnamon, rosemary and aniseed. On occasion caramel is also added but beware cheaper brands which use lesser quality white rum and apply caramel colouring to achieve the hue without the flavour.

Rum Legends

Drunken sailors have given rum a bum rap, if you will, as the legends and tall tales surrounding this well-known seafarer’s drink are nothing less than hearty, mehearties.
 
One tall tale, enough to slightly turn the stomach, explains the etymology of one of rum’s many nicknames: Nelson’s Blood. Allegedly, following Admiral Horatio Nelson’s defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson’s body was transported back to England in a cask of sealed rum but when the cask was opened upon arrival and Nelson’s preserved (pickled) body removed, no residual rum was to be found. Had the dead Nelson somehow imbibed the rum whilst incarcerated? Well no, but someone had. The sailors under his command had tapped his body-containing cask (aka his embalming fluid) and drunk the contents en route.
 
And as every Aussie history buff should know, our love of rum was so entrenched that in 1808 the colonial government of the time was overthrown by military force when Governor William Bligh tried to outlaw the use of rum as a medium of exchange. Harrumph said we, you’ll just sit quietly under house arrest until a more suitable replacement can be found, with a little more tolerance to our ways and means. And so we welcomed Lachlan Macquarie to our shores, one of Australia’s more celebrated historical figures whose presence was entirely attributable to a little upset with some rum.

Popular Spiced Rum Brands in Australia

In Australia, Spiced Rum is growing phenomenally in popularity– sales have increased 378% over the last two years to March 2014* – so now’s the time to discover your favourite spiced rum brand!
 
Our leading contribution to the spiced rum fraternity, the domestically produced Bundaberg Original Spiced Rum, was launched in 2012. Australian consumers have already started to embrace the smooth, aromatic flavour of its spicy, vanilla blend.
 
Bacardi, one of the world’s best known rum brands, launched Bacardi Oakheart in 2011. As the name suggests, the spirit is matured in heavily charred oak barrels to give it a very oaky-smoky flavour, and then a “secret blend of spices” is added to deliver a sweet rum with vanilla, caramel and pepper flavours.
 
Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum  has been around since 1984 and is one of the most popular rum brands in the world. There are actually three varieties – Original Spiced (aged Caribbean rum with spices and other natural flavours), Original Spiced Gold (rum and other spirits, blended with spices, fruit flavours and vanilla) and Black Spiced Rum (a stronger ‘Blackstrap’ rum with cinnamon, clove and vanilla flavours).
 
Kraken Black Spiced Rum is another international favourite, even though it was only launched in 2010. Named after the Kraken Black, a mythical sea-monster shaped like a giant squid, the rum originates from the Caribbean and packs a powerful punch. As black as the squid-ink of its namesake, Kraken Black is heavily flavoured with molasses and Christmas spices – cinnamon, allspice, cloves – and delivers a big vanilla finish.
 
Finally, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum considers itself a “straight up, no-nonsense rum”. Again harking from the Caribbean, Sailor Jerry is more of a classic spiced rum; it offers warm overtones of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a hint of burnt toffee.
 

Spiced Rum Flavour

Drinkers less used to rum might just consider the spirit as a mixer base, either for a long cocktail like a Cuba Libre (basically rum and cola) or more exotic cocktails like a Mai Tai or Pina Colada. But that’s where spiced rum bucks the trend.
 
Whilst spiced rum is still great as an additive to mixed drinks and cocktails, it can stand alone very happily and be consumed neat or with ice. Spiced rum’s lighter flavours lend itself to more sophisticated drinking, where the consumer is choosing the flavour of the spirit not just a generic mixer, and is perhaps one of the reasons for its burgeoning popularity.
 
There are as many spiced rum flavours as there are spices being used to flavour the rum, but there are some common themes.

Food Matching

One of the great things about Spiced Rum is that it’s a brilliant recipe ingredient as well as being a brilliant beverage. So maybe it’s overkill to match your Spiced Rum & Cola with a home baked Spiced Rum Apple Pie, but some would say you can never have too much of a good thing.
 
In terms of pairing spiced rum drinks with food, the spirit works very well with barbecued meats – chicken for example, or beef. And of course, with its own base sweetness, spiced rum also goes very well with chocolate.
 
*Aztec; Total Australian Off-Premise; MAT to 6/4/14
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