These been a lot of chat in the press lately about imports and exports, taxes being added to items coming through, the States not accepting iron from some places, and think I even heard the other day that we won’t be able to import small individual pieces off the US amazon site any longer.
The conversation all started as we chatted about the imported range of rums from Rum Co. of Fiji, probably the best thing to come out of Fiji since the mighty Petero Civoniceva.
Rum Co. of Fiji have been producing rum at their distillery in Lautoka, Fiji since 1980 and, while only being a relatively new kid on the block, have shown they have a team with the chops to work toward a long term vision. They have been shaping the liquid that’s inside the bottles, blending from different barrels that have been stored in different locations in the distillery. Creating and blending ratios and finding unique ways to add or grind spices for their spiced rum. The rums, inspired by their Fijian heritage, are separated into two tiers, the entry level BATI range and the premium RATU range. RATU are the proud clan chiefs who lead the warriors, known as BATI.
All the hard work that the company has been putting in over nearly the last forty years has paid off in spades wininng over 100 International awards, including 52 in the last six years. In just the last twelve months the company has taken double gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) with their RATU 8yo Signature, and a silver for their 5yo Spiced at the 2017 London International Wine and Spirits Competition (LIWSC), culminating in the RATU 5yo Spiced Rum being named 2018 Rum of the Year at the London Spirit Competition (LSC), along with a numerous other medals around the world over the years.
The rums are made from hand cut sugar cane with the resulting sugar cane honey having a high sugar content The base is distilled using a mixture of column and pot stills, which are aged separately and then blended back together for the final bottling, which are all hand labelled at the distillery too. It’s that high sugar content, cane honey base, the rich volcanic soil that the cane is grown, and the use of coconut shell carbon in that gives the premium rum its distinctive flavour. Activated carbon from coconut shell is one of the most effective filter carbons, with almost 85-90% surface area of coconut shell activated carbon exists as micro-pores. These small pores match the size of contaminant molecules in drinking water or spirits, and more efficient in than wood or peat carbon. It also gives the rum a very distinctive Mars “Bounty” type chocolatey taste, layers of coconut with interesting chocolate nuances.
As with many rum brands, it’s in that premium $50ish per bottle Ratu range that the rums really shine. The extra blending and time spent in the charred oak barrels impart the rum with a bit of extra depth and some lovely vanillin nuances.. With an RRP of $62 but a shelf price of around $55, these are rums that deserve to be sipped rather than mixed….generally on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. Hopefully the importers with look to bring more of the range into Australia, like the Laukota 12year Old Solera, and I can spend some more time getting to seriously know the range.
A Couple to Find:
Ratu Spiced 5 Year Old Rum – most spiced rums aren’t made using an aged base, and it’s the extra bit of time in the barrel that gives the rum a bit of extra depth. If you’re a fan of those big, face grenade spiced rums, than this won’t work for you, it’s more elegant and lithe than that style of rum. The initial aromas is of coconut and vanilla, with layers of chocolate, woody spices particularly warm cinnamon and faint candied ginger notes. On the tongue there’s no bite from the alcohol, its velvety smooth, with those ‘bounty’ flavours showing through balanced beautifully with the spices, candied orange peel and a lingering palm sugar sweetness on the tongue.
Ratu Dark 5 Year Old – “mellow but superbly enjoyable” were my notes, but that doesn’t do the rum enough justice. Again it’s not a huge rum by any means, but that’s what works in its favour. The flavours are so well balanced, there is big hit of vanilla from the use of the oak on the nose, then layers of caramel and a little noughat, theres a little bit of bite from the alcohol on the tongue but its washed away by the flavours of dark sugar, caramel and toffee, with some light tea leaf notes at the back end.
Ratu 8 Year Old Signature – the colour of old mahogany in the glass, on the nose there’s an initial whack of citrus, some candied orange peel with ginger, dark chocolate and coffee with some oaky vanilla. Biggest tip here was to let it rest in the glass before having a sip, it allowed the flavours to open up a little and show the depth with spicy oak and chocolate over the citrus and demerara sugar notes.