Nautical and Nice: Ian Buxton’s ‘101 Rums To Try Before You Die’

The craft drinks movement has already elevated beers of all hues, as well as that quintessentially British spirit gin, to loftier heights. Now, rum – a drink invented in the 17th century when plantation slaves discovered that molasses could be fermented into alcohol – is set to enjoy a similar resurgence in popularity amongst the luxury intelligentsia. Which makes the latest book from Ian Buxton (approximately £9, available from, author of Whiskies Galore and 101 Gins to Try Before You Die, a timely release, as well as an invaluable one for those who wish to make a foray into the rum revival armed with the requisite knowledge.

Whether a well-chosen rum at your favourite bar or an investment for your cellar is of interest to you personally, Buxton deftly helps the reader navigate the whole world of rum, his route taking in the Caribbean and Queensland via Guatemala and Scotland, with the wares of both global brands and small artisan distillers all given a fair hearing. Some of the burning questions prevalent in this corner of the spirit world – not least whether British, French or Spanish rum makers should claim to hold the high ground, quality wise – are answered with Buxton’s trademark, inimitable wit, while what one should infer from rums’ different colours, nuances and creation methods is explained with concise authority. Expect, too, a refreshing lack of snobbery about mixers and cocktails: those who prefer the traditional sailor’s tipple with a splash of the most popular soft drink in history may apply…

“Something is stirring in the world of drinks,” says Buxton, who has been working in and around the drinks industry for close to 30 years, including a stint as marketing director of one of Scotland’s best-loved single malts. “While gin has gone crazy and whisky is looking to its laurels, rum is having a moment. No longer the poor relation of the spirits world rum, after years in the doldrums, is once more a thing.”