Despite being a fan of single-malt whiskies and premium gins, I have never felt quite the same enthusiasm for rum. Well, I say never; what I should say is that I have abstained from it since 1986. I suffered shocking aftereffects back then, when a magnanimous friend insisted we imbibe an excessive amount of Alleyne Arthur’s Special Barbados Rum to celebrate his acquiring a case of it.
But while browsing whiskies at the Good Spirits Company during a recent visit to Glasgow, my eyes alighted on a tempting-looking, wooden-stoppered bottle of rum made by the Wester Spirit Company. What piqued my interest was the novelty of the words “distilled in Scotland” in relation to rum, despite the fact that production happens around the world – even in such unlikely places as Spain and Fiji.
Islay whisky house Bruchladdich bottled some Caribbean rums around a decade ago, and dedicated rum distillers such as Aberdeenshire’s Dark Matter and Angus-based SeaWolf have since taken up the challenge of producing it. But it turns out that the Wester Sugar House was making it in Glasgow in the 17th and 18th centuries, when there was a number of sugar refineries in the city, and the Wester Spirit Company took its name when it reintroduced the spirit there this year.
So I made the decision to put my rum demons behind me (and, of course, to support the local economy of Glasgow) and take home a bottle of Wester Premium Spiced Rum (£35 for 70cl), which I determined would be drunk in small quantities and only occasionally.
And am I glad I finally decided to put my rum demons to rest? Not only does Wester’s dark honey colour look tongue-twitchingly inviting, the fact that it is infused with spices such as star anise, nutmeg and cardamom, which have been allowed to make their presence well and truly felt, gives the drink a fabulously festive bent.
I’ve been taking mine with almost medicinal “occasionality” – once an evening for the past fortnight – served as simply as can be, over ice. I suppose it could be mixed with cola or the like, although the mere thought seems sacrilegious. To my mind, with its fresh citrus, ginger and vanilla notes, Wester hits the spot just as it is – so much so that I might break my self-imposed one-glass rule this evening and have two. Just two.