Rum that packs a punch

John Vine

From the swinging vibe of Cuba to the laid-back rhythms of the Caribbean, rum isn't just a drink, it's a lifestyle choice, says Waitrose spirits buyer John Vine

I only discovered my passion for rum last year. When my father retired we decided to go on a fly-fishing trip to Cuba. We stayed on an old sugar plantation and then in the capital, Havana, visiting Ernest Hemingway’s old haunts, including Bar Floridita, which had pictures of him on the wall. I was hooked by the atmosphere, the lifestyle, the history – and, of course, the rum, which ties it all together.

Rum makes everything go with a swing. I’m now a confirmed rum drinker. I’ve also learned that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make the perfect rum cocktail; you just need to understand a few basic principles of cocktail-making. For a mojito, for example, just add mint leaves, sugar, lime juice and soda water – it’s delicious whether you use white, golden or dark rum. We keep saying that this is the year for cocktails, but I really do think it’s happening now. We’re seeing more and more customers buying the ingredients and making cocktails at home. So think rum, read on and get inspired – we have 18 rums for you to discover, along with plenty of exciting ways to drink them. Enjoy!