Sugarcane Sunday

The inaugural Sugarcane Sunday transformed The Standard in Darlinghurst into a colourful pop-up rum market.

Sugarcane Sunday
Sugarcane Sunday

The afternoon was a veritable Tiki celebration with a large selection of rum, rhum, ron and cachaça to taste, all to the beat cool tunes, and a party vibe that only needed sand between the toes. Over 20 brands were represented with several of their expressions on taste. There were renowned brands as well newcomers such as the impressive Abuelo range which had its Australian launch at the event.

Below are some of the highlights and tasting notes on the go.

Havana Club

Sugarcane Sunday
Karel Papi Reyes, Havana Club Brand Ambassador

Starting in Cuba, Havana Club 3 Años has fresh oaky notes and a lot of freshness at the back of the palate which is an indication of its complexity. A long finish with some vanilla and caramel with tropical fruit notes, it’s good in mojitis, daiquiris, Cuba libre and Presidente.

Havana Club Añejo 7 Añosis their flagship rum with a minimum age blend of 7 years, some up to 15 years. Best sipped neat, it has chocolate notes, sweet tobacco, cinnamon, very smooth and silky with a long, sweet and oaky finish.

Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros 45% abv is the only non-overproof rum made in Spanish style. An exceptional blend that a majority of maestros have to approve, it has a minimum age of 10.5 years up to 17. The packaging designed to resemble a cigar and the rum has dark chocolate notes, lots of oak, cinnamon and a spicy long finish.

Stolen Rum

Sugarcane Sunday
Stolen Rum

Moving to Trinidad, Stolen White Rum is distilled and blended in Trinidad, Aged for 2 years in ex Jack Daniels bourbon casks then bottled in New Zealand in Italian limoncello-style bottles. At 37.5% abv, it has subtle banana and tropical fruit notes and a creamy finish. Good in citrus cocktails such as daiquiris.

Stolen Gold Rum 40% abv also comes from Trinidad and is aged 4years in ex Jack Daniels barrels. The rum has a natural sweetness (no added sugar, molasses or flavour enhancers), spice notes along with vanilla, caramel and butterscotch.

Stolen Dark Rum is made up of a 90% blend of column still Trinidad rum 10% Jamaican pot still rum, aged for one year. This is a limited release made in small batch. At 37.5% abv, it has a little burn, with sweetness at the front palate but finishes dry. Good in dark rum cocktails like the Mai Tai.

SX9 White Rum 65% abv is a Jamaican style overproof rum, unaged and blended for consistency. Fried bananas, creme brûlée, caramelised sugar and a strong alcohol kick makes it a standout product that adds a lot of flavour to a cocktail.

Abuelo Rum

Sugarcane Sunday
Abuelo Rum

On to Panama and Abuelo Rum had its Australian launch at Sugarcane Sunday. Originally sugar farmers, the family settled in Panama in 1908 then 30 years later, started producing rum.

Abuelo Añejo is an entry level rum you want to sip. A blend of rums aged for a minimum of 5 years in American oak barrels, the spirit has coconut, vanilla and sweet spicy notes with a lingering finish.

Abuelo 7 Años has more complexity and vanilla flavour from longer time in oak with fruity caramel and wood spice notes while the Abuelo 12 Años is full bodied with dry fruit and woody notes with plenty of caramel and a complex finish. The Centuria is a Reserva de la Familia rum, complex and full of character, strong on coffee, caramel and vanilla flavours.

Leblon Cachaça

Sugarcane Sunday
Leblon cachaça

Leblon is an artisanal Cachaça from Brazil, a spirit that predates rum by 30 years. Originally a slave drink made from fermented sugar cane juice, consumption is high in Brazil with only 2% of cachaça is exported. From harvest to pruning to pressing, it takes only three hours with a short fermentation that gives it a more vegetal flavour. A popular spirit used in caipirinhas.


Sugarcane Sunday
Bacardi with Loy Catada

Back to Cuba with two notable expressions of Bacardi Rum. Bacardi 1909 Superior was released in 2009 and is one of the earliest flavours of Bacardi rum but with a higher abv of 44.5% which gives the spirit a crisp, clean flavour. Bacardi 8 is a blend of rums with average age of 8 years, aged in smaller barrels. It was originally only sold to family members but in 1998, it was released to the public. This is a good sipping rum and it comes in 1 litre bottles.

Bacardi Oakheart is the third biggest spiced rum after Sailor Jerry and Captain Morgan. Easy to drink with a 35% abv, the rum is aged between 2 and 3 years, infused with spices such as vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, leatherwood honey and aged in charred oak barrels.

Appleton Rum

Sugarcane Sunday
L-R: Ollie Stuart, Jordan Berger, Jamie Chesher, Tom Bulmer

Over at the Appleton Rum shack, the heat was on for the fastest Planters Punch bartender competition, a test of speed and not taste.

Jamie Chesher, winner of the Appleton Australian Bartender Challenge led the tasting of the various aged rums. From the entry level Appleton VX which makes a good spirit mixer, to the versatile Appleton 8 year old with chocolate, orange and cinnamon notes and the favourite, the Appleton 12 year old with its rich chocolate, toffee and cocoa flavours, each expression took the taste buds on a trip to Jamaica before ending on  the Appleton 21 year old with more oak character and a long finish.

Other brands represented at Sugarcane Sunday include the range of Plantation Rum, Mt Gay Rum, Cachaça Germana, Cubaney Rum, Flor de Cana, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Rebellion Bay Rum and many others worthy of a clean palate and a dedicated tasting time.

Sugarcane Sunday is an initiative of Tom Bulmer, President of the Sydney Rum Club which is part of an international organisation that aims to build a community of rum enthusiasts. The event was held on Sunday 24 March 2013 at the Standard in Darlinghurst.

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Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.