Rum is one of the world’s most popular spirits, with a heritage from the Caribbean. Made from sugar cane or molasses (avoid versions made from honey), it’s said to be the oldest spirit in the world, and popular with sailors. The best-selling brand Bacardi is vegan, but you are best off trying better artisan rums. Most rums are vegan, but a few may distill through bone char, so check your brand at Barnivore to make sure.
First created in the Caribbean back in the 1600s, it was the first spirit to be used to simply enjoy life, rather than taken as medicine. Bacardi is the main brand that produces 100,000 litres a day in Puerto Rico. People back in the day thought that rum could prevent hair loss, so would rub it into their scalp? Today we know that overdoing alcohol could actually lose vitamin B, which could lead to hair loss. Don’t try rum if you’re new to booze, as it’s one of the strongest spirits there is. In Jamaica, one rum is 63% alcohol, the highest-proof rum worldwide.
Lost Years Rum is inspired by a love of the ocean. These award-winning vegan rums focus on sustainability, with each bottle sold saving up to 10 baby sea turtles, by supporting community-based conservation efforts at key nesting sites, in the Caribbean and Latin America. Choose from Silver Moon White Rum (with the sweetness of molasses, an ideal G & T alternative) or Lost Years Navy Strength Rum.
Silver Moon refers to the night-time hatchings that take place on Caribbean beaches each year. After emerging from the land, baby sea turtles follow the light of the moon, to find their way back to the sea. Each purchase helps to save baby sea turtles (light pollution has caused some to end up in car parks.
Caribbean Four Island Rum is a union of beautiful cask-aged rums from Barbados, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, married with Rhum Agricole from Guadeloupe. It has rich oak flavours with the grassy freshness of sugar cane juice.
Devon Rum Co blends Caribbean spirits with local spring water, aromatic spices, fresh citrus and natural flavourings (note for vegans, a few contain honey). This brand is sold in plastic-free packaging, with trees planted on Dartmoor to offset the carbon footprint.
Scratch Spirits (Hertfordshire) are made in the rolling hills, using British-refined molasses and sustainable local ingredients which are slowly fermented in a copper pot still. The main rum features toffee, fudge and vanilla notes, plus you can buy a unique botanical rum made with foraged botanicals, a single white rum with vanilla and cinnamon, and a golden rum with rich notes of caramel, toffee and cinnamon. Half bottles sold to avoid over-indulgence!
God’s Own Rum (Yorkshire) is made and bottled in this grand county in 4 versions: Yorkshire Gold, spiced, winter and blush (infused for several months with locally grown seasonal berries and currants to give a deep pink hue). Each one has unique tastes, and you can buy a miniature set to try them all out.
The Cornish Distilling Co creates its own rum from scratch, rather than importing from the Caribbean. Based in Bude, the Mooncurser Spiced Rum is inspired by hidden coves and rocky inlets, with a history of smuggling! It features notes of vanilla, orange and caramel, with nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee, ginger and pepper.
Pirate’s Grog Rum is a boutique company from the island of Roatán, just 40 miles off the Honduras coast. The name derives from days when pirates and buccaneers used the island as a resting point between voyages, providing a safe haven for trade (between plundering merchant vessels and sheltering from stormy weather). The original recipe is aged for five years in ex-bourbon, white American oak barrels for a smooth golden rum with notes of raisin, butterscotch and vanilla. ‘Old Grog’ was Sir Admiral Edward Vernon, who reduced the strength of the rum on board, to keep his crew a little less ‘three sheets to the wind!’
Recipes to Use Your Rum
Mojitos are a tropical boozy cocktail from the island of Cuba. Ideal to serve with vegan Cuban cuisine, the drink is over 500 years old, with the name hailing from the African word for talisman (sadly, the drink may have been named this way, due to African slaves working in Cuba). Mango Mojito (Crowded Kitchen) is a nice drink, add sparkling water or fizz, for a bubbly version. Traditionalists serve the drink with ice cubes made from water, sugar and lime juice to enhance the flavour, but you can still make the drink with other fruits, if preferred. Some people swap out the rum for tequila (there should be no ‘worm in the bottle’, but avoid its cousin mezcal, which may have one).
This Frozen Raspberry Daiquiri (Crowded Kitchen) is made with white rum, lime juice and a homemade simple syrup. Shake with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You can make the same recipe with frozen fruit if wished, and a splash of vegan raspberry liqueur (Chambord is not vegan, contains honey).
Vegan Rum Raisin Ice Cream (Addicted to Dates) is a Caribbean favourite. This ice-cream is made with cashews and monkey-friendly coconut milk, along with sea salt, vanilla, maple syrup, dates and of course – rum and raisins!
Rich Vegan Rum Cake (Crumbs & Caramel) is a rich cake, soaked in a buttery rum sauce. The perfect dessert for a winter’s night.
Vegan Piña Colada Smoothie (Short Girl, Tall Order) is a creamy treat, though this one has no alcohol or added sugar. Naturally sweetened with dates, use frozen pineapple for a thicker drink. Pina Colada is a popular cocktail from the Caribbean, made from pineapple and coconut milk. The drink took 3 months to perfect, allegedly invented by a pirate!
Pina Colada Ice Cream (Addicted to Dates) is a creamy tropical iced treats. It contains 6 ingredients including pineapple, coconut and dark vegan rum.