#rumfamily : Favourite all rounders-Rumcask

Next up in the #rumfamily series is the trio of awesome gents that make up Rumcask. We have always loved their enthusiasm and energy every time we meet them. More recently it has been nice to see them continue to grow as part of the Rum community and branch out from reviews and events which clearly demonstrates their passion.

Who is behind Rumcask?
It’s a trifecta of rumlove at RumCask HQ. Indy Anand, Chetan Ladwa and Jazz Singh!

What interested you and got you all started in the world of Rum?
Chet – Indy quite honestly! He bought me a ticket to my first ever RumFest in London back in 2011 and after that I was hooked. The pilgrimage to the Excel was pretty epic but I’m still not sure how we got back…
Jaz -We travelled to the Caribbean RumFest back in 2014 and met the International Rum Council and a range of absolute Rum superstars including; Carlton Grooms, Dave Russel, Nicholas Ferris, Mike Streeter and Shawn Martins.  A team of real Rum lads who were being shown around the coolest distilleries across the Caribbean to take pictures, do reviews and spread the good Rumword! We absolutely loved what they were doing to raise the profile of the Rum category to Rum purists and mainstream Rum consumers.

Indy – Back in my first year at University I was introduced to Captain Morgan and Coke and my life would never be the same. I wanted to find other Rum to drink as I knew whisky was a massive category and started my search. I hope that search will never end as I discover more in the category.

Please tell us a little bit about your journey in Rum so far?
Chet – I haven’t been as lucky as the other guys in terms of travelling the world and visiting wonderful distilleries to be honest. I’m hoping Jaz signs off a trip for me soon! The journey over the past 2 years from blogger to events coordinator to importer and distributor however I have loved. Bringing great new Rums to the UK is something worth getting out of bed for every day. Research panel evenings are always a highlight!

Jaz – We swiftly returned to the UK and started the original entity that was Rumcask and began by getting cool Rums in and doing the classic Rum reviews. We soon changed the model to be an events based business and have (at last count) hosted over 40 events in the last two years!  What’s a better way to understand the diversity and complexity of our category than by tasting 25 Rums for less than a bottle of reasonable Rum.

Back at the end of 2017, we were approached by multiple Rum brands that did not have a foot in the UK market but create some amazing Rums, Rhums, Rhum Agricoles and Flavoured/Spiced Rums.  So we began the task of setting up Skylark Spirits; importers and distributors of fine cane spirits!

Indy – After getting almost everybody I know to sample and drink Rum from 2008 onwards, I always try to improve my knowledge of the category. From visiting distilleries, to going to multiple Rum festivals (in the UK and abroad), to completing my WSET 2 in Spirits, to just sitting with Rum family and listening, there’s always more to learn and many people willing to teach. From there I can echo whats been said by Jaz and Chet with the journey from enthusiasts to RumCask to Skylark Spirits.

What was your first memorable Rum?
Chet – That’s easy. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. I enjoyed sipping it neat, everything about it was appealing and getting my daughter’s face on a bottle at UK RumFest 2012 was pretty cool. Let’s say I’ve learned a lot about Rum since then.

Jaz – If it wasn’t for Diplomatica Reserva Exclusiva, I probably wouldn’t have gone through the Rum journey! Nowadays I still sip it as a one off during the night but soon come back to the true Jamaica funk bombs like US RumFire, S.B.S. Jamaica 2018 (DOK) or William George Rum!

Indy – Wray and Nephew. I remember being given it and feeling my mouth on fire back in 2009 and swearing off it for years. Now it’s one of my go to Rums for a mixer with coke. Or a solid overproof Daiquiri! How tastes change eh?

What is the best thing about being involved in the category and organising events?
Chet – Changing opinions. There’s nothing I love more than speaking to guests and seeing that moment time-and-time again where they go “wow! I never liked Rum before but this is amazing!”

Jaz – The ability to be right on the pulse of what mainstream gin, Rum and whiskey consumers like, want and purchase.  Sometimes we are all guilty of forgetting that Rum purists are only 1% of the Rum purchasing market!

Indy – Showcasing the spirit that I love to more people. Not just those who already drink Rum but to those who don’t by understanding their palate and hopefully recommending them something that changes their drinking world! That’s the aim. Make them see the Rum world is vast! (and delicious)

What is the worst thing?
Chet – Breaking down in a van 230 miles from home!

Jaz – Nothing at all!  We have the best jobs in the world!  Its not even a job anymore!

Indy – The end of an event. The highs that you experience during an event that make the hours zoom past quickly dissipate as you need to clear up. Brings you down to earth very quickly!

How has the category changed since you have been involved in it?
Chet – Public opinion has changed and is changing still. The Rum community is growing, passionate and vocal about what it likes and issues are hotly debated. The wider public is learning more and asking more questions. Bars are starting to notice too but there is a long way to go.

Jaz -Transparency! Transparency! Transparency!  It is coming!

We are already seeing the rise of spiced Rum in the Uk and this will only get bigger the more events we do and attend!
Like does the consumer really need 10 pink gins?  Sounds like when the market had 10 toffee vodkas!

Indy – I have found more bartenders are growing passionate towards Rum. This leads to them educating the consumer when they talk to them and this has lead to more people trying and enjoying Rum. They have always been a key part in what people drink but its never been more evident to me as it is now.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?
Chet – That’s a tough one. Having a RumCask / Golden Hinde event feature in TimeOut magazine was very cool but I’d say creating our sister company Skylark Spirits and introducing the likes of William George, Compañero, SBS, Damoiseau and Clifton Estate tops it for me. We have along way to go still! Watch this space…

Jaz – For me, its the small things!  Yes, most businesses fail in the first year and we have been here three!

But my proudest moment was a few weeks ago at Mother of Pearl in New York.  The owner was having a conversation with the bartender that he really wanted to go the Jamaican talk at Bar Convent Brooklyn but missed it as he was busy and then the talk flashed up on his Facebook News feed!  I quickly butted in and asked, who had posted it to which he replied some company called RumCask!  I was beaming from ear-to-ear for the rest of the day!

Indy – Being nominated and then making the final list for a Golden Barrel Award in 2018. Its been a lot of work behind the scenes that most people don’t see and it was such a surprise and humbling experience for us.

If you can, what would be your top 5 Rums?
Chet – Maaaaaan! That’s not fair. What mood am I in? Ok let’s try Criterion, Herr, WP Marsala, SBS Belize 06 and Damoiseau Millesime 2009 and I’m going to sneak in William George for 6(!)

Jaz – Every year we tend to go to key members of the global Rum community and ask this exact question!

I tend to vote for unknown Rums that need the brand visibility or blow me away from a taste profile.  My last 2 Rums of the year have been, Mhoba High Ester and Chairmans Reserve ‘Martin Cate’ Edition (100% John Dore).
The Funk from the US that is 2 year aged and finished in a rye barrel, William George Rum and Pere Labat 59%.
Obviously the classics that everyone knows like the new Worthy Park Vintage edition, Single Barrel Selection and anything Foursquare… literally anything!

Indy – Ever? You know that’s not possible really. It changes depending on, well, everything! Some of my go to Rums at the moment are: Foursquare Criterion, Velier Antigua 2012, Compagnie Des Indes New Yarmouth 2005, Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve, Plantation Extreme No2 Guyana. This is purely molasses based though. If I opened this up to fresh cane, I’d be here all day!

How do you see the category changing in the next 5 years?
Chet – Greater clarity, better labelling, more Rum bars, more Rum in bars and a much larger captive audience to Rum in the UK especially.

Jaz – More consumer transparency, more consumer choice, the rise of Agricole and the rise of Rums from the new world (Outside of the classic Caribbean rum producers i.e. Indian Ocean Stills, Cape Verde and of course Madeira)

Indy – Honestly I think the struggle for clarity will still be in place. The powerful brands will stay opposed and the more craft and niche brands will keep fighting. However, I do feel a wider Rum selection will start appearing around the UK in bars and pubs etc by then, especially the fresh cane juice releases.