India’s Hip Homegrown RUM Renaissance Rhapsody

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Image Courtesy: Ash Edmonds via Unsplash

By Rajeev Mokashi

The world has fallen in love with Rum all over again. Rum once enjoyed a spot on par with (or even higher than) its brown spirit contemporaries. Die-hard patrons and newbies alike are rediscovering the joys and complexities of the tropical tipple in various forms and amongst Indian homegrown rum brands.

Now produced in more than 50 countries, from Jamaica and Japan to Costa Rica and the Czech Republic, Rum is no longer a bottom-shelf spirit. The rise in recent years has been dramatic yet constant. There has been an increase in the number of brands hitting the market, and more in the works; it almost seems like this could eventually be the next chapter in the Indian homegrown spirits scene.

No matter how you like your rum, neat or mixed, flavoured or clear. Select from a wide range of cocktails, from piña coladas to mojitos, or daiquiri to mai tai. TheGlitz presents five of the finest homegrown rum brands. Whether you’re going big or staying home, there’s a lot of reason to sit back and celebrate every occasion.

“Rum has a great culture that should be celebrated.”

Alexandre Gabriel

Also read: 5 Glorious Homegrown Indian Gins

OLD MONK

Overview
Brand: Old Monk
Origin: Mohan Meakin, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
Still: Column
Age: 7 years
Finish: charred Oak barrel
ABV: 42.8%

Old Monk 7 YO / India's most famous homegrown rum
Old Monk 7 YO / India’s most famous homegrown rum

Old Monk continues to reign supreme, as it has been doing for years as a top-shelf spirit staple. Old Monk, produced by Mohan Meakin, emphasises robust molasses notes and rich baking spices, making it incredibly unique and iconic and making the cut by force of will. Packed with enough punch—in proof and flavor—Old Monk has notes of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla depth that quickly grow on you. “Don’t say rum, say Old Monk!” is how the popularity of this homegrown rum brand has been over the years in India. Having said that, the maker, they say, hardly ever downed a peg.

Making Coke taste better since 1954

Old Monk

Their collection includes Old Monk, Very Old XXX Rum, Old Monk Supreme, White, Cola, Cranberry, Mojito, Lemon, Apple, Orange, Gold Reserve, and Legend. Old Monk is a wonderful weekend classic for when you just want a conventional R&C with a slice in great company or in peaceful solitude.

CAMIKARA

Overview
Brand: Camikara
Origin: Picadilly Distilleries, Indri, Haryana
Still: Pot
Age: 12 years
Finish: American Oak barrel
ABV: 50%

Camikara 12 YO
Camikara 12 YO

For the uninitiated, Camikara, which translates to “liquid gold” in sanskrit, stands true to its Indian heritage. From the house of Picadilly Distilleries, Camikara is a pure Indian homegrown rum made from cane that’s handpicked and produced with the highest quality sugar juice. With no added colour, flavour, sugar, or spice, it makes for a delicious sipping rum that is best enjoyed neat.

On the nose, there is a bouquet of aromas: honey, ginger, toffee, raisin, prunes, and leather. The first sip brings a blend of honey, toasted coconut, and charred oak, with warm spices on the finish. Camikara Rum is also the first Indian rum to ever win a gold medal at the prestigious IWSC Awards in 2023.

MAKA ZAI

Overview
Brand: Maka Zai Tribute Edition – Gold Rum
Origin: Stilldistilling Spirits, Anjuna, Goa
Still: Pot
Age: 2.5 years
Finish: Oak barrel
V/V: 42.8%

Maka Zai Gold Rum and White Rum
Maka Zai Gold Rum and White Rum / Image courtesy rumasingh

“I Want,” as it’s translated in Konkani (an Indian language), Maka Zai‘s backstory might sound more startup-driven than your average rum brand. But Maka Zai is more than meets the eye. It’s got plenty of genuine cred. Sure, founder Kasturi Banerjee spent 16 years in the financial service profession in India and Singapore before pursuing a bartending internship and subsequently becoming one of India’s first homegrown alco-bev entrepreneurs.

Maka Zai is an easy-matured rum aged in oak casks with a darkly delicious real flavoured rum. This handcrafted artisanal rum has notes of the finest pralines, dried dates, figs, caramel, cinnamon, and honey that create a symphony and bring out the mellow vanilla accents. All put together, it is an ideal dessert for sipping rum.

Maka Zai Bartender’s Edition – White Rum

The lightness of Bartender’s Edition White Rum mixes as smoothly as it pours. It’s light yet extraordinarily rich, with funky tropical characteristics and creamy and elegant aromas. A perfect medium-bodied, cocktail-forward white rum you may call. The red soil influence carries some mild yet enjoyable notes, making it floral, sweet, spicy, and herbaceous. The rum is bottled on-site at a strength of 42.8% v/v. A perfect rendition of the Bartender’s Edition.

SHORT STORY WHITE RUM

Overview
Brand: Short Story
Origin: Third Eye Distillery, Goa
Still: Pot
Finish: Cask
VOL: 40%

Short Story White Rum
Short Story White Rum

Looking to switch up your cocktail routine? Then Short Story White Rum from Third Eye Distillery is the go-to spirit for Gen Zers. An excellent portrayal of Caribbean rum made by blending Indian molasses rum with three different rums from the Caribbean region—a high-ester Jamaican rum tempered with cask-aged Dominican and Trinidadian rums.

The tropical, grassy nature is obvious on the nose, with a long, complex finish. Short Story is sharp and well-branded. The information on the bottle is clear and concise with no jazzy narration or fancy tales about ingredients and processes. Short Story short, it laps up everything you throw its way, whether it’s a Daiquiri or a simple Cuba Libre.

EARTH RUSTIC SPICED RUM

Overview
Brand: Earth Rustic Spiced Rum
Origin: Surbhi Beverages, Goa
Still: Pot
Finish: American Oak barrel
VOL: 42.8%

Earth Rustic Spiced Rum
Earth Rustic Spiced Rum

Being India’s first meticulously crafted and spiced homegrown rum, Earth Rum is reason enough to appear on our glitzy list of Indian homegrown rums. Infused with star anise, clove, pepper, and cinnamon, this rum screams for just ice or plain water—no mixers required. High on sustainability lessons, this product is a small tribute to Mother Earth. With zero plastic packaging and zero plastic elements, Earth Rum, with its fiery kick, is a versatile cocktail ingredient. Kudos to its founders.

Cover Image Courtesy: Ash Edmonds via Unsplash

Also Read: Top Indian Homegrown Whiskies

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