Thanks to its use of Noble sugarcane, the golden rum from the Philippines has a unique flavor that makes it a worthy addition to your home bar.
Spirits like tequila and whiskey have undoubtedly dominated the booze market in recent times — the result of many celebrity investors — but rum, the liquid fuel of many a tropical cocktail, has been making a comeback. Market trends predict an increase in sales over the next decade, because many smaller, craft producers have elevated the sugarcane spirit into something beyond the old school brands like Captain Morgan’s and Bacardi. Newer brands like Equiano and Selva Rey continue to celebrate rum of the Caribbean — the spirit was created in 17th-century Barbados after all — but it should be known that the West Indies aren’t the only rum producing region of the world. The Philippines has been producing rum for more than 150 years, and Kasama, a small batch rum hailing from the island nation, is a true contender for your rum cocktails.
Rum is distilled from fermented molasses or sugarcane juice (the first rum was created using the discarded byproduct of sugarcane production that had been fermenting in the sun). Sugarcane was originally cultivated not in the Caribbean, but in South and Southeast Asia more than 3,000 years ago. With sugar production rooted in that part of the world, it should be no surprise that the Philippines has a rich rum history, one that spans over 160 years.
While different varieties of sugarcane are plentiful all over the Pacific tropics, Kasama distillers uses Noble cane. The variety is known for its soft and juicy stalks with thick, barrel-shaped segments, and high sugar content. The Noble sugarcane juice is extracted and distilled using column stills — typical of a Spanish-style rum — instead of traditional pot stills, typical of the British rum style of the Anglo-Caribbean.
After the liquid is distilled, its aged for seven years in American oak barrels to develop its light brown color. It’s during this time that Kasama’s delicate flavors develop: sweet pineapple, with a hint of vanilla, and a pinch of saltiness to balance it out. The result is a drier flavor profile than your standard Caribbean rum, which really complements and tones down its inherent sweetness. (Kasama founder Alexandra Dorda describes Kasama as “a light, Spanish style rum that’s semi-dry.”)
That said, while the sweetness of Kasama can certainly make a frozen drink sing, it’s intended to go beyond the beach bar and into the traditional liquor cabinet for the broader gamut of non-tropical cocktails, from rum old fashioneds to rum negronis.
“Rum has an inherent appeal with a naturally sweeter profile than other dark spirits,” says Dorda. “But [Kasama] is versatile enough to be used in cocktails or sipped by itself as the aging process really gives it a mellow flavor with a ton of depth.”
With the sweetness of sugarcane rum rounded out with a hint of sea salt, it makes sense that Kasama translates to “together” in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines. If you’re a fan of unique rums, it’s well worth checking out.
Two Cocktails To Make With Kasama Rum
1. The Rum Old Fashioned
- 1.5 oz. Kasama rum
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine bitters and sugar in a rocks glass. Add ice and rum, then stir to combine. Optionally garnish with a cherry or burned orange twist.
2. The Kasama Rum Negroni
- 1 oz. Kasama rum
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth
Mix all the ingredients in a glass with three ice cubes.