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Make hay while rum shines

By Kitty Go | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-23 11:10

Make hay while rum shines

Rums pick up their flavors not only from barrels but also from the soil, type of sugar cane used, the surrounding vegetation and other natural factors. [Photo/China Daily]

Two long-time Hong Kong residents are bringing the premium version of the staple drink of pirate lore to Asia. Kitty Go reports.

Mention rum to the typical consumer and he will think pirates surrounded by scantily clad women in ripped clothing wandering the beach promoting cheap liquor, holiday cocktails with an umbrella or, heaven forbid, rum and Coke. Unbeknownst to many except the most educated liquor connoisseurs, premium rums costing more than $100 a bottle hardly ever left the Caribbean until about 15 years ago when Americans started importing them to satisfy a growing sophisticated cocktail culture that wanted rum that was "not just Bacardi".

But in Asia, because of rum's reputation as a cheap mixer, the idea of enjoying premium rums has yet to catch on among whiskey and cognac lovers.

Bahamians and long-time Hong Kong residents Shane Stuart and Andre Carey, co-directors of Caripelago Trading, are on a mission to change this tarnished reputation of a spirit they grew up with and know how to enjoy. The former financiers set up their company to exclusively distribute premium rums in Asia. They have distributions in Hong Kong, Taiwan of China, and South Korea.

The duo observe that most people, especially Asians, do not know much about rums beyond Bacardi. They notice that people's palates have not expanded and are geared toward wine, whiskey and cognac.

"The image of rum is it is a party drink and mixer with juice, with no history or culture. Our company's job is to change that," Stuart says. "Do you know it is the oldest distilled spirit and a hundred years ago it was preferred over whiskey?"

Rum history puts its first production sometime in the mid-1600s.

Related: Enjoying scent and flavors of this spirit

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