Hot Category: Rum!


Hot Category: Rum!

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Well, not only are we literally feeling the heat, but within the rum category we are certainly experiencing some fiery rivalry. We are not surprised. As evidenced by many of our Bar None articles, the rum category is on fire — new interests, new players, new brands and, with a Jamaican rum designation, the levels just got higher. In Jamaican parlance, our rums are “levelling up” and expanding into new territories and markets, in new ways and new styles. Today, we introduce to Jamaica the newest rum player on the market — Plantation Rums, the latest addition to the Select Brands portfolio.

The Plantation Rum brand is the brainchild of Alexandre Gabriel, a cognac producer and tireless entrepreneur who came to the Caribbean in the 1990s in search of the best rums in the region. Plantation was born; an artisanal range of rums from the great terroirs of the tropics. After 15 years of dedicated rum-making, in 2012, Gabriel was awarded master blender in the 'World's Best' rum awards, won the prestigious Golden Barrel Award and was named Distiller of the Year by the American Institute. Gabriel's latest project, Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry, launched in 2018, has so far picked up seven top awards including 'Best Spirit' at the Berlin Mixology awards, 'Rum Category Winner' at the UK Class Awards, and scored 97 points in both the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and Wine Enthusiast. Gabriel now spends several months per year in the Caribbean combing for treasure — the best rum barrels he can find. Plantation is a shareholder of National Rums of Jamaica, owner of Clarendon Distillery and Long Pond Distillery.

Within the Plantation range of rums is the Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry rum made with 100% Jamaican rum distilled in Jamaica at Monymusk and Long Pond Estates, aged in once-used bourbon casks, then carefully shipped to Cognac in France where the rums undergo 'continental ageing' in cognac casks for a further year. Alexandre has indicated that with the Xaymaca Special Dry rum, he wanted to dive into the iconic culture that is unique to Jamaican rum. Further, Alexandre wanted to work with the complex flavours of overripe exotic fruits with intensity.

Andrew Desnoes, managing director of Select Brands Limited, shared that the Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry rum ideally should be sipped neat or served as a Collins cocktail: 1 oz Plantation Xaymaca rum, oz simple syrup, oz lemon juice and topped with soda water.

I personally tried the Plantation Xaymaca rum and was impressed by its complexity reminiscent of beautiful combination of fine rum, bourbon and brandy. Given the euphoria of summer, we want to share our own summer cocktails made from this beautiful rum expression.

An air of rummy excitement is certainly evident. The Jamaican rum category is diversifying and growing. The complexities that once were obstacles to consumer trial have become the pillars of exploration and innovation. No room for complacency, time to expand the conversations around rum by inviting more people to the table with the ultimate goal of solidifying the Jamaican rum category! Remember to share with me your summer cocktail experiences. Cheers!

Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with me your wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

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