After having a run of underrated bargain basement beauties with Lidl’s Liberté Rum & Dunnes’ JG Kinsey Whisky – I suppose a disappointment was inevitable.
Aldi’s Old Hopking White Rum is presented with a rather plain white label that gives little away.
‘Bottled In Germany’ it says. A common practice using ‘Imported Rum’ from undisclosed sources. Where the sugarcane or molasses came from is not stated – nor method of distillation. At this price point – that information is a bonus.
So onto a taster.
A perfumed floral aroma greeted me.
More reminiscent of my wife’s gin rather than a rum!
This followed through in the palate – which was smooth & mellow – with a mild heat to keep it real – but otherwise no defining character.
Old Hopking is a simple easy sipper – but I wasn’t expecting a rose garden in my rum!
Presented in a distinctively shaped bottle – common across the Blacks Gin & Whiskey spirits range – with an elaborately designed label bearing both the Blacks Crow & a pirate ship – along with other steampunk style contraptions – the suitably golden liquid lured me in.
A heavy funk on the nose – Jamaican style – with a hint of ripe fruitiness on top.
Luscious on the palate – the fruitiness puts in more of an appearance.
A gorgeously growing softly tingling spiciness rounds up this delightful rum – as the gentle funk slowly fades away.
The opportunity to taste and sample a variety of styles & flavours before committing to a large bottle.
Lidl are currently showcasing The World Of Rums – including offerings from;
Panama – La Réunion – Cuba and Jamaica.
Rums are often categorised into styles based on their former colonial occupiers. It’s not particularly scientific or pretty – but neither is the use of Scottish Regions to define the flavour of whisky.
Being Lidl – it’s likely to be sourced private label brands too. As confirmed by ‘Imported & bottled by: ‘Pabst & Richarz Vertiebs GmbH‘ on the outer packaging.
But what interested me were the differences of flavours showcased by the individual rums themselves.
Panama. Sir Francis Drake. 6 Years Old. 40%
Spanish style. Light, buttery & sweet.
Pale straw. Vanilla sweetness followed by darker molasses & treacle notes. Soft & sweet palate – a bit too sweet for my liking – but develops a pleasant oaky spice from the cask ageing.
Easy & enjoyable.
La Réunion. Coeur Du Soleil. White Rum. 37.5%
French style. Rich , fruity & complex.
Clear spirit. Pungent vegetal nose – reminds me of Mezcal. Palate was smooth & characterful. The earthy herbaceous notes give a slightly savoury yet sweet appeal that slowly fades.
Cuba. Ron Santero. 3 Year Old. 38%
Spanish style. Lean & clean.
Clear spirit. Soft subtle & sweet. After the other 2 rums, Santero’s delicateness just merged into a bland neutrality for me. Cries out for mixing.
Jamaica. Caribica. Brown Rum. 40%
British style. Funky, heavy & bold.
Light brown. Noticeable funkiness on the nose – reminds me of burnt rubber. Syrupy palate. The funk is lost a little to a treacly dark sweetness, but re-emerges on the finish.
Is Jamaican funk the Islay peat of the rum world? Finding it challenging.
An interesting & entertaining taste experience.
I’d have thought there’d be a rum here to please every palate.
La Réunion’s Coeur Du Soleil was the one for me. The powerful mix of sweet, sour & savoury notes demonstrated the full bodied style of ‘Rhum Agricole’ using freshly pressed sugarcane juice bottled straight off the stills.
C’est très bonne.
What is your style?
A brief guide to styles of rum can be found at the handy Tenzing blog here.
The renewed & growing interest in brown spirits doesn’t just stop at whiskey.
Rum is also showing an increase in appreciation.
The enterprising Íon Distillery near Omagh, County Tyrone, is banking on this appreciation by producing a rum aged in whiskey barrels!
I couldn’t resist trying it out.
A bottle was promptly sourced via the fast & efficient KWM Wine & Spirits online store in Kilkeel.
Íon – meaning pure – combine the history of the past blended with a sense of people & place finished in a modern innovative twist.
Sugar cane molasses from the Caribbean are distilled in a ‘doubler style’ copper pot still, infused with spices, cut with locally sourced water & laid to rest in ex-bourbon barrels.
Ogham style markings – found on ancient stones around Ireland – are used as an attractive motif on the bottle – along with images of the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley’s Castle – who possibly downed a few bottles of contraband rum in her time!
I poured a glass.
The lovely golden hued liquid gave off a gorgeously spicy bouquet of cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg over an underlying gentle toffee sweetness.
Light in body, the soft caramel notes gave way to a growing spiciness & warming heat in a smooth delivery.
The spices left an enjoyably prickly sensation at the end as they slowly faded.
More of a winter warmer to me than a summer sizzler.
Being a bit of a purist myself I couldn’t help wondering what the rum would be like without the additional spices which tended to dominate the more subtle flavours within.
However this is in contradiction to the latest trend which shows spiced rum to be the fastest growing category in this segment.