Rums of the week: Stormzy picks his favourites

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A report by David Williams for London’s Guardian.

An Afro-Caribbean rarity, a spiced delight and others rich and rewarding rums to try.

Equiano Rum, Mauritius and Barbados, (£49.95, equianorum.comRum in the UK has come a long way since the days when your choice down the pub was a tot of dark Royal Navy or a splash of white Bacardi with your Coke. Over the past couple of decades, the quality – and range – of rums available here has at last caught up with the likes of whisky and brandy. Where to start with a constantly evolving, heritage-rich scene? Guest editor and rum aficionado Stormzy gave us a couple of suggestions. First, one with an intriguing back-story, Equiano. Named for the Nigerian-born 18th-century writer, freed slave and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, it’s a blend of molasses rums from two tropical islands in two continents, Mauritius and Barbados, making it the first-ever Afro-Caribbean rum. Aged for eight years and finished in ex-bourbon casks, it has a gorgeous honeyed mellowness, with soft vanilla and rich fruitcake flavours that, for this correspondent, are better suited to fireside curling-up than clubbing.

Las Olas Spiced Rum, Barbados and Jamaica (£35, lasolasrumclub.comStormzy’s second choice, Las Olas, takes us into the realms of spiced rum. That’s a style that can get up purists’ noses – as if it were a form of cheating, somehow, that at least some of the flavour comes from adding spices, roots or fruits into the barrel, rather than it being, as with conventional rum, a reflection of the pure distillate or its slow interaction with a barrel over years. As with gin and vermouth, however, the keys to making the sort of quality spiced rums that have emerged in recent years lie in the skill of the blender and the quality of the raw ingredients – two factors that the three Londoners behind Las Olas seem to have got right with their spanking new release. A blend of rums from Barbados and Jamaica, it is refreshing and zingy where Equiano is smooth and relaxed, with a seasonal whiff of mince pie and a big hit of bright cherry on the palate.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum, Venezuela (from £37,; the whiskyexchange.comWhat would I recommend Stormzy in return? The spiced rum that’s impressed me most lately is Elements Eight Exotic Spiced Rum (£30.59, The Drink Shop), which was by all accounts the first serious spiced rum on the market when it first came out at the beginning of the decade. With a base of Windward Islands rum, it’s infused with a range of flavourings from cinnamon to nutmeg and ginger that give it a properly complex, gingery warming kick that seems, again, to be very much in keeping with the season. For straight rums, I’m grateful to the tirelessly enthusiastic and talented American drinks expert Dawn Davies of the Whisky Exchange for showing me a couple of beauties at a recent wine fair earlier this month: the deep, rich, resonant bass drawl of Diplomatico and the invigoratingly wild, natural peach, lime and peppercorn freshness of Clairin Communal Rum from Haiti (£37.25).

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