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Enotria and Coe

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  • McWilliam’s Wines Group joins the Enotria&Coe stable

    Enotria&Coe has galvanised their stable of exceptional Australian producers today, with the announcement that McWilliam's Wines Group (MWG) will be joining the portfolio in November. The partnership will see Enotria&Coe representing both the company’s flagship McWilliam’s brand and their iconic Mount Pleasant collections in both the On and Off Trade

    Enotria&Coe Buyer, Maggie MacPherson said, “We’re thrilled to be working with this iconic Australian wine family. The breadth and scope of their range, focused on premium NSW regions, is hugely exciting. Their business continues to evolve and modernise, making them the perfect choice for Enotria&Coe. Additionally, having the opportunity to distribute the wines from Mt. Pleasant is a buyer’s dream! We’re looking forward to taking these wines and their stories to the market, and working in partnership to build compelling brands with a focus on customer needs and consumer experience.”

    McWilliam's Family

    MWG brings a wealth of impressive wines to Enotria&Coe’s already award-winning portfolio, showcasing not only some of the best wines offered by the Hunter Valley, but new and innovative styles that are in high demand by contemporary wine consumers.

    Scott McWilliam, Sixth Generation Winemaker and Company Director said, “When looking to continue building the momentum of our portfolio within the UK market we needed to find a partner who would understand both the provenance of our brands, and the elegant wine styles my family has been perfecting for over 140 years. We feel that Enotria&Coe has the right strategic thinking, drive and reach to share with the market our vision for an elevated expression of Australian wines.”

    “Our McWilliam’s wines are distinctly cooler climate wines sourced from some of the most cutting edge wine regions of Australia. Our skilled viticulturists and winemakers carefully select fruit from these regions to complement the McWilliam’s elegant, food friendly wine style,” he continued.

    Enotria&Coe now represents four of the 12 members of Australia’s First Families of Wine. As they continue to build a portfolio of the very best producers, this is testament to their position as the UK’s best specialist wine company and reinforces the focus on quality and character.

    Australia’s First Families of Wine – what you need to know:

    Four of our producers, McWilliams' d’Arenberg, Burch Family Wines and Henschke are members of AFFW. This is a collective of 12 multi-generational family-owned wine producers, representing 17 wine growing regions and 48 generations of winemakers. The aim of this group is to showcase a diverse range of the very best of Australian wine – real wines, beautifully crafted, with true character. The families joined forces to challenge and change the perception of Australian wine production as a great corporate entity – this initiative is all about the unique stories and equally unique personalities.

  • Top Tips to Boost your Sales this Christmas

    With the festive season fast approaching, now’s the time to start thinking about ways you can capitalise on the bustling trading period and boost your sales. Follow these eight tips to ensure you’ve got all your bases covered.

     

    1 Premiumisation

    If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it. Christmas is the best time to stretch your premium range and increase your price points for by-the-glass listings. Look at cash margin for premium wines to get them activated. Once you’ve selected your more premium offering, you can email this out to customers for group bookings, which allows you to plan for what you’ll be selling.  

     

    2 Staff

    Staff are your most important asset. During this peak period, ensure they’re energised and motivated, as this will keep them engaging with customers. Staff incentives and spot prizes are always a good start.

    Training is also key. Roll out training sessions with your team in October to ensure they’re all aligned with what the business wants to sell during the Christmas period. Remember to educate them on the full suite of wines and other beverages, and help them perfect the single-sentence up-sell/add-on – it will drive great sales at this time of year. “‘Can I get you a G&T/cocktail/glass of fizz whilst you look at the menu?” asked when seating a table is very effective.

     

    3 Packages

    Consider whether a drinks package at a set price would fit your venue. This can be fantastic way to encourage patrons to explore the breadth of your list, and branch out into things like fizz on arrival and apéritifs. For the consumer, it’s also appealing as it means the logistics and financials are already taken care of, meaning they can relax and enjoy the experience.

     

    4 What’s hot

    Tap into what’s hot in the world of wine. Consumer trends show that Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja, Malbec, Prosecco and Provençal Rosé have big followings in the UK market, so we’d recommend you have a least one option from each of these categories on the list. A couple we’d recommend include: 

     

    bottle lineup

    Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Yealands Estate

    La Garuma Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Leyda

    Grande Réserve Organic Rosé Cru Classé, Château Ste Marguerite Rosé

    El Mago Organic Rosé, Franck Massard

    Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria

    Estate Malbec, El Esteco

    Archetipi Ribolla Gialla Natural Wine, Puiatti

    Large5 formats

    If you’ve got bigger groups of customers coming through the doors, ensure you’ve got a magnum list ready to go. Voluptuous large format bottles add theatre to any occasion, especially during the festive season when customers are looking for that extra special something.

     

    6 Apéritifs

    Customers will be looking at splashing out during the season, so having a couple of apéritif serves listed at the top of a food menu is a great way to appeal to these sensibilities. Having something like an Aperol Spritz, sparkling cocktail, or even Champagne and Prosecco listed will catch their eye, and increase the chances of a sale. Remember, anything bubbly is generally associated with good cheer and celebration.

     

    7 Digestifs

    If you have dessert wines and digestifs, ensure that they are presented at the same time as the dessert menu and good pairings are actively recommended. It’s also worth considering creating a bespoke rum or whiskey list – 12 days of Christmas, with 12 spirits on the list, for example. In particular, Dark Rum is a category in growth, and winter sees people naturally moving towards darker spirits.

     

    8 Weather

    In certain areas of the UK it’s important to be prepared for the weather, and make sure you’re stocked up for any transport issues that may arise because of it. It’s best to increase your par levels in November and run the stock through in December. There’s nothing worse than missing a sale because you’ve run out of something the customer’s ordered. 

  • All that bubbles

    wordpress banner top christmas 1 - all that bubbles

    Nothing quite says Christmas like a glass of effervescent fizz. But with so many styles on offer, it’s hard to know which to pick. We take you through the key styles, and pick out a selection that should make the cut on your Christmas order list.

    Champagne

    Tunnelled beneath the handsome architectural façades of Reims and Epernay is a subterranean world of work. Kilometre after kilometre of branching cellars, lined with millions of bottles stacked by hand and layered on top of one another, like logs in a woodpile. The still wine that enters these vaults is soon to become starred with bubbles, but the transformation that gives its nutritious, yeasty, dough-like aroma only emerges after years of cellaring.

    Harvest comes to Champagne in September, just as summer begins to fade into Autumn. For three hectic weeks, Champagne’s population swells by 60,000 as legions of students, travelling workers, executives and cellar workers bear the strain of bringing in the grapes. At night, this transient workforce – full of food, wine, music and fatigue – loudly occupies the streets, creating the impression of a newly-formed, fecund, nocturnal world.

    Champagne is synonymous with luxury, but the soft warmth of the joie de vivre of these late summer nights also reminds us why it has become such a spirited monument to good French living.

    Rosés

    Rosé is the ultimate test of the blender’s art. Try and blend too much red wine into Champagne, or macerate the grapes for too long, and the elements never really combine, as with oil being dripped into water. At Jacquart, small additions of still Pinot Noir add extra dimensions of colour and flavour, without ever compromising the gentle impact of the underlying blend.

    Rosés

    NV Brut Mosaïque Rosé, Champagne Jacquart

    NV Cuvée Rosé , Laurent Perrier

     

    Les Apéritifs – Lighter Styles

    Champagne’s gentle, glimmering apéritif wines marvellously invert the region’s dour backdrop of hard rock and sullen light, like a photographic negative blazoned onto celluloid. Laurent-Perrier NV epitomises this style: delicate yet flavourful, its fine textural weave vigorously unspooling into filaments of tiny, brilliant bubbles.

    Les Apéritifs – Lighter Styles

    NV Ultra Brut, Laurent Perrier

    NV Grand Brut, Perrier-Jouët

    NV Ponsardin Yellow Label Brut, Veuve Clicquot

     

    Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay Wines

    The east-facing slopes of the Côtes des Blancs are Chardonnay’s home, and the source of the region’s prized and elegant Blanc de Blancs Champagnes. Chardonnay is the variety most sensitive to the return of light and warmth to the vineyards in spring, fattening its buds from early March. Without the easterly aspect, the new growth might perish to frost, but the gentle incline helps gather in the warmth of the morning sun and protects the emerging shoots as they tiptoe their way leaf by leaf into each new season.

    Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay Wines

    Blanc de Blancs, Jacquart Vintage

    NV Blanc de Blancs, Ruinart

     

    Fuller Styles

    Customarily, blends of grape varieties dutifully pull together, like suburban couples; but Champagne’s licit ménage à trois of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier is a much more combustible affair. Bollinger, Roederer and Taittinger are all familiar names, but each illustrates the extraordinary boost and energy of combination that blending brings to Champagne.

    Fuller Styles

    NV Special Cuvée, Bollinger

    NV Brut Réserve, Taittinger 

    NV Brut Mosaïque, Champagne Jacquart

     

    Vintage and Luxury Cuveés

    Although the majority of vintage wines are blended, it is the grandeur of Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims that persuades most producers to bottle cuveés from individual years. Wines from the mid to late 90s are now starting to peak, though a few such as Henriot’s Cuveé des Enchanteleurs and Bollinger’s Grande Année seemingly come with the gift of perpetual life.

    As for the strength of luxury brands such as Cristal and Dom Pérignon, consistency is everything, coupled with the ability to create and satisfy our appetite for luxury. For those looking for greater individuality, Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle is full of surprises and subtleties, and Henriot’s 9-year matured Cuvée des Enchanteleurs is truly exceptional.

    Vintage and Luxury Cuveés

    La Grande Année, Bollinger

    Cristal, Louis Roederer

    Dom Pérignon

    NV Grand Siècle, Laurent Perrier

    Krug

    Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Taittinger 

     

    Sparkling

    Of course, if you’re after festive fizz, Champagne is not your only option – there’s a whole wide world of sparkling alternatives beyond the borders of Champagne from which to choose. With differing emphasis on fruitiness, bubble size and methods, each country is home to a distinct version of its own. Interestingly, the UK is the largest importer of all sparkling wines in the world – two of the most popular effervescent alternatives being Prosecco and Cava. These sparkling wines have filled a gap in the market – where Champagne was seen as too luxurious or unaffordable, Prosecco is now an option for those wanting to drink bubbles without the hefty price tag.

    Prosecco is made differently to Champagne and, because of this, the bubbles are lighter and less persistent. The taste of Prosecco comes from the local Glera grape, which gives the wine perfumed aromas of white peach, meyer lemon, honeysuckle, and creamy vanilla.

    Cava is Spain’s answer to Champagne. Most Cava comes from Catalonia in Northern Spain where the local grapes of Macabeo, Paralleda and Xarello are blended together using the same winemaking method as its French counterpart. The result is a dry, elegant and fruity sparkling wine with an attractive price point.

    Sparkling

    NV Classic Reserve, Hattingley Valley 

    Rosé, Hattingley Valley 

    NV Maximum Brut, Ferrari

  • The Henschke heart

    When it comes to Australian wine, you don’t get much more history and prestige than Henschke. With some of country’s oldest vines, the Henschke family has been making wine for more than 150 years. Over the passing years, each generation has left their own mark on the business, and today it’s fifth-generation Stephen and Prue Henschke steering the ship, passionately upholding the family name and reputation.

    Since stepping into their respective roles, Stephen as winemaker and Prue as viticulturist, the estate has grown from strength to strength, with the duo keenly focused on future-proofing the winery and investing in new styles of grapes and winemaking techniques, alongside meticulous and innovative viticultural management. Importantly, although respect is paid to their forebearers, the husband and wife team has ensured that Henschke is continually modernising and moving with the times. For a winery steeped in history such as theirs, this commitment to innovation has been critical to ensuring the Henschke wines remains relevant for consumers in the 21st century.

    During a fleeting visit to London, where Prue and her sixth-generation daughter Justine were attending the Australian Women in Wine Awards, we sat down with Stephen and Prue to learn more about their family business.

    IMG_2827

    Stephen, you have a rich family history in wine, but how did you decide wine was something you wanted to pursue?

    S: “I’d always had a real interest in it, but I didn’t know if I’d end up becoming a winemaker. I was always incredibly interested in marine biology, so I nearly went down that path. But then the opportunity came up to study at Geisenheim University in Germany, so I abandoned my plan to study at in Australia at Roseworthy and packed my bags to head north. Prue and I had met years before at university where we shared a subject in botany, so when I decided to move to Germany, we got married and made the leap together. Although I spoke some German from my schooling days, Prue didn’t speak much at all, so it was a big leap.”

     

    You were in Germany for two years, how did this time influence how you make wines today?

    P: “It definitely influenced our viticulture. At that time, Germany was really the hot bed for emerging viticulture practice – a research centre on a lot of work on trellis, clones and root stocks – you name it, they were doing it.

    “Interestingly, during the time we were in Germany they actually had a huge issue with diabetes, so they were really focusing on reducing sweetness right through their whole diet, so they had dry wines, and that’s what we got attached to. We found the dry wines were actually better than the sweet wines, which were masking unripe characters.”

    S: “Looking back, it was really beneficial in terms of the precision in their winemaking – everything from removing oxidation and using refrigeration, to using good filtrations and fining, all those sorts of things. But we also wanted to maintain the Henschke style, and didn’t suddenly want to start making sweet wines and become something we were not. In any case, your style should be driven by your climate, so there were only certain elements of what we learnt in Germany we could bring back home.”

    _51C3399

    Could you imagine a life if you weren’t in wine – what would you be doing?

    S: “It’d be deepest darkest Africa for you, Prue!”

    P: “I did a lot of special projects in zoology during my studies and was offered the chance to go to East Africa to study baboons. I was also fascinated by botany, and had an honours degree in algae. There’s this amazing cold current that comes up underneath the bottom of Australia and we have some of the most diverse algae in the world. There was a lot of work to pursue down that path, I decided I wasn’t a good enough swimmer for that!

    “When the opportunity to move to Germany presented itself I made the switch to wine, but having that strict botany behind me meant it was really easy to drop into viticulture because I had all the physiology and bio-chemistry.

    “It’s been a great partnership, and it meant Stephen could hand over the very challenging viticultural side of thing. I’ve been doing a lot of research in the area, so it’s a huge benefit to have that focus on our long-term future of viticulture. It’s actually the part of the wine business that takes up the most personnel. We basically have one person every five hectares (and we have 100ha) so that’s half the personnel of the whole business working in the vineyard in hands-on viticulture.”

    _MAO2099

    Perhaps one of biggest legacies you’ll leave behind is your range of parcel wines. How did you come to start working with these alternative varieties?

    S: “My dad was on the Barossa Vine Improvement Group, so he was actually quite involved and interested in other varieties. He was making a few interesting white­s from Ugni Blanc and Sercial, but in reds we really didn’t have much other than Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec in those days. However, that’s also what consumers wanted. They were a lot more used to just getting varieties that made a nice big red wine.

    “Because of our travels and interest in varieties, and seeing the potential for other varieties in certain places within our vineyard’s scope of Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley, we started planting some Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Grüner Veltliner which is looking spectacular. It’s really interesting to see how those varieties which back in the 80s were seen as pretty uninteresting, are now coming back out again of obscurity into popularity.”

     

    On that note, how much weight do you give to consumer trends – do you let them influence what you’re doing in the vineyard?

    S: “It’s interesting: you don’t really know whether it’s winemakers who’ve inspired people to drink different things or whether the consumer is actively looking for something new. It’s the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario. However, I think as people become more confident and knowledgeable about wine, they’ll tend to branch out and try something different.”

    P: “I think it’s really important to watch the market. We were innovators with Pinot Gris in the mid-90s when we saw that become one of the alternative varieties that was taking off, and now it’s reached that point where it’s saturated, almost to the point of being bulk wine. You have to work out when to start pulling back from varieties because we can’t afford to produce low value, low quality bulk wine. It just doesn’t work for us.”

    S: “It’s also not part of our brand identity. Our economic model is to be better rather than bigger. To be better you have to really do everything by hand, you have to focus and push into that organic and biodynamic area and ensure you’re building the quality all the time.”

    P: “Perhaps most importantly, if you want to go down the path of alternative varieties, you really have to know your land and soil profile like the back of your hand. These new varieties are popular but you have to know what you’re doing – you can’t just plant them anywhere, so site selection is a huge part of the process.”

    Henschke-485

    When it comes to food and wine, what is your pairing philosophy?

    S: “We recently did some cheese and wine pairing with a local South Australian producer, and when we initially matched the cheeses, we found the fresh goat’s cheese was much better suited to the Pinot Noir than the mature goat’s cheese. So we swapped the sparkling and the Pinot over to suit the flavour of the cheese better.

    J: “It’s always something we’re really careful about when we release Hill of Grace, and do media previews and launch dinners for our customers. We always start with that list of wines and give that to the chef, and then let them tailor the menu to the wines. When you say Shiraz people often think steak, so with Hill of Grace we’re trying to find other options like kangaroo and duck, which suit our more elegant style of Shiraz.”

    S: “We did some interesting dinners during our travels in Spain, and I think one of the things that’s often missing is the person who tastes the wine with it, rather than just assuming it’s going to work or retrofitting wines to a menu.”

  • Alternative Australia 

    heartland

    For years, Shiraz and Chardonnay have sat contently on their thrones as the King and Queen of the Australian wine growing scene. Back when the New World wine country was finding its feet in an industry dominated by Old World estates – with vines even older than Australia – it was the likes of Shiraz and Chardonnay grapes that made people sit up and take notice of the new kid on the block. However, the landscape has evolved in the past few years, and modern Australian wine is a far cry from where it first began. In Australia, it’s all about diversity – new wine regions are emerging, new winemakers are breaking through, and new styles are being pursued.

    But perhaps the biggest change of all is with grape varieties. At present, there are more than one hundred commercially planted grape varieties in Australia; however, a new wave of Mediterranean varieties are making a name for themselves Down Under. From Nero d’Avola to Vermentino, Australia is bursting with new arrivals and lesser-known grape varieties which are grabbing the attention of critics, sommeliers and wine drinkers around the world.

    There’s no doubt the Australian wine scene is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, but the reasons behind the varietal explosion are far more complex.

    For one, climate change has had a major impact. With many of Australia’s classic wine regions becoming warmer and drier – and growing seasons becoming shorter – winemakers have turned to vines that are better suited to their soils and conditions, as a means to future-proof the industry.

    australian_heartland

    Of course, commercial objectives are not missing from the equation, and investing in alternative varietals helps Australian producers find a new USP in an increasingly crowded market.

    The third piece of the puzzle boils down to the people behind the labels and their inherent pioneering spirit. Aussie winemakers are curious and willing to challenge convention, keen to try new things and discover how different varieties express themselves in Australia’s distinct terroir. However, many winemakers felt that such a hegemony of international varieties was squandering Australia’s potential and so, without laws restricting what can be planted and where, Australia has become a hotbed of innovation and experimentation.

    Under the care of our passionate Australian Buyer, Maggie Macpherson, Enotria&Coe’s portfolio has evolved over the years, and now reflects this new diversity in Australian wine, with producers such as Chalmers, Heartland, d’Arenberg and Henschke forging the path forward.

    At Heartland, Mediterranean varieties have always been on the radar, with vines planted with Fiano, Malbec, Dolcetto, Tempranillo, Lagrein and many more.

    heartland_1

    “All Australian wine regions remain young by international standards. Both Barossa and Langhorne Creek are well over a hundred years and running, but we’re not closing the gap on Burgundy any time soon. It takes a while to understand a terroir and work out what varieties work well in which soil, aspect and climate. As a nation, we have worked out that there are lots of varietal options for the thousands of different facets of our landscape,” says Ben Glaetzer.

    For Heartland, the pursuit of alternative varietals has a lot to do with flavour and, as Nick Keukenmeester says, the fact that “we like to make them, the journos like them, we get medals and they sell. Why argue?”

    For influential wine writer, Matthew Jukes, who’s been working with Australia’s best wines for more than three decades now, the groundswell can be put down to sheer curiosity.

    matthew jukes_1

    “It is easy to sell the first bottle. But the more interesting thing is, do customers come back for a second glass, bottle or case? These wines are often part of a ‘diffusion brand’ within a winery’s range which, like in fashion, a second label can divert the eye for a while, before you return to the classics. We are riding a fashion wave at the moment and only the best versions of these wines will survive," he says.

    While the interest in alternative varieties is certainly picking up speed, Matthew warns that before we too quickly jump ship from the country’s tried and tasted grapes, it’s worth taking a step back and assessing the broader picture.

    A decade ago, when Matthew co-authored his third book on Australia, Taste Food & Wine 2009, he was decidedly nonplussed by the shortlist of 200 alternative reds. Ten years on, although he notes the situation has evolved slightly, we’re still not experiencing the avalanche of fascinating, great new wines everyone expected.

    “There are certainly some new wines, but few of them compare to the level of skill and flair shown by the Rieslings, Chardonnays, Semillon, Shirazes, Cabernets and so on.

    “Granted, a decade on, I have more wines in my 100 Best Australian Wines Report, which are made from alternatives, but they are window dressing on the main act – the founding varieties. My main issue is that wineries which grow alternatives are often looking for a quick fix or a trendy angle to get their wines in front of you.

    "There is however, a strong band of wineries making smart wines, but as Matthew points out, they’ve been at it for years. “They know that these wines are not the mainstay of their businesses, but they provide something a little different.”

    So where does all this leave us?

    Loading buckets of grapes onto the dray 1

    If we know one thing for certain, it’s that over the past few decades Australian winemakers have matured, and so too have their wines. No longer are wines from Down Under stereotyped as ‘sunshine in a bottle.’

    As for the future of Australian wine, Ben rightly points out that the industry’s survival and success has always hinged on innovation and so, moving forward, we should look for more of the same. By which he means not more of the same, but rather constant change.

    In contrast, while Matthew doesn’t foresee huge change in the industry in the coming years, he believes that “great wines will continue to capture hearts and palates, while the alternatives will surf the waves of fashion around the outside, bringing you into the vast ocean of choice which is the Australian wine world."

  • National Rum Day

    fresh mojito in the bar

    Words: Ben Gibbins

    It’s August, which means it’s nearly International Talk Like a Pirate Day [19th September if you’re interested] but more importantly it means that National Rum Day is almost upon us, with August 16th giving us an excuse to raise a glass to the spirits behemoth that is rum in all it’s forms.

    Bartenders will use Wednesday to pronounce that rum is the next big thing, which it is, but also has been for the last decade. Rum is still big – in 2015 the mojito was the most ordered cocktail in the UK – but specifically spiced rum is the next big thing, with growth up year on year whilst the rest of the rum world remains relatively flat. But more on that later.

    Rum has a long and interesting history mixing myths and truths dependent on who you talk to. Sugar as first discovered in South East Asia; brum (sugar wine) was noted in 14th century Iran; and later distillation became commonplace on the Caribbean sugar plantations in 17th century as the Western taste for the grass ‘that brought forth honey without the need for bees’ grew. The first taste of sugar spirits would have come in the Caribbean from molasses being cast aside in vats, they are produced as a by-product of sugar production, where it was watered down by rain and naturally fermented, creating a low-wine drunk by the workers. The Spanish were the first to distill this ‘wine’ into a spirit, nicknamed Kil Devil as it would ‘kill the devil inside you’! Rum’s big boom followed that of the sugar industry, growing in conjunction with the slave trade, a trade triangle being established between Africa, the Caribbean and the American Colonies exchanging sugar for rum, and rum for slaves. This currency value was hugely important, with rum used as legal tender across America and Europe for a number of years across all levels of society – in fact George Washington insisted on a barrel of Barbados rum at his inauguration.

    Rum became linked to naval tradition at the same time, with Lord Nelson’s body reportedly transported home in a rum barrel after Trafalgar, and the Royal Navy’s daily rum ration only coming to an end in 1970.

    Most rum is produced in sugar cane growing countries, with the Caribbean and South/Central America producing the most well-known brands, with most using molasses as their base ingredient. The production methods are generally similar, but the location plays a key part in the final taste, and this can crudely be defined along the lines of language and colonialism.

    Old rum distillery, factory in St.Lucia. Old rum distillery, factory in St.Lucia.

    English Speaking Island (Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica…): Tend to be distilled in a pot still and column still resulting in a darker rum with a fuller-bodied style.

    Spanish Speaking Islands and Latin America (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela…): Usually column distilled for a lighter, more mixable rum ideal for cocktails.

    French Speaking Islands (Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique…): Produce a different product – rhum agricole – made from fresh sugar cane juice rather than molasses for a zesty, herbal note.

    The diversity of rum has spread the world over though with India producing a drier version, Cachaca made in Brazil, anise-infused Aquardiente from various points in South America, Tuzemak in the Czech Republic, Ron Miel from the Canary Islands and Stroh in Austria.

    Yeast, ageing and blending are vitally important in rum production having a profound impact on the taste profile and style of the final product. Producers of lighter rums use fast acting yeasts to keep the number of esters (flavours) lower, whilst fuller, richer rums use slower yeasts for added flavour. Ageing varies from one location to another, with many countries requiring at least a year. Bourbon casks are a popular choice but rum producers are now experimenting with ‘finishing’ in different casks to alter the flavour. There is a downside to long ageing though – the angel’s share in the tropics is usually 10% of the total volume a year (compared to 2% in Scotland) – meaning long-aged rums are incredibly expensive with only a fraction of the original liquid remaining. Blending is common in most rums, ensuring consistency and maintaining the quality of rums produced.

    High angle view of two glasses of rum-cola cocktail with ice served on the bar. Vintage colour look.

    This longer ageing has become increasingly popular with the use of aged rum on sipping and digestif menus across the country.

    Then there is spiced rum, which now sits as its own category and is almost solely accountable for the rise in rum sales in recent years, its popularity growing as a characterful base for cocktails and mixed drinks. The additional flavours of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger were once used to mask inferior spirits but now serve to enhance quality base spirits.

    Across all these categories and variants rum is a greatly versatile product working perfectly in classic mixed drinks such as a Cuba Libre or a Dark ‘n Stormy (a drink even trademarked by Goslings Rum); the eponymous Pina Colada – the national drink of Puerto Rico since 1978; in tiki drinks like a Mai Tai or a Beachcomber; and in re-worked classics like a rum old-fashioned.

    So this National Rum Day, why not try something summery and exciting, or revisit an old favourite, but swap in rum for a new take on the familiar? Agricole is a great alternative to tequila, light rums for vodka and gin, and darker, aged rums in place of bourbon and whisky.

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