Drinking with the AU: Sydney Cocktail Club’s Rum DMC Challenge - Papa Gedes (Sydney)

It’s tricky sometimes to appreciate a nice rum. If you’re anything like me your first (illicit) experience with the pirate’s poison was good old Bundy. And then, more recently, along came spiced rum and everyone rejoiced.

But like many spirits, rum has a rich and increasingly international range which we were lucky enough to taste and learn more about with Sydney Cocktail Club for their Rum DMC showdown.

What’s it all about? The premise is simple: three “king” rums from established, old school distillers were pitted against three up and coming “challenger” rums from south-east Asia.

The judges: yours truly and a friendly bunch of SCC members sipping the rums neat.

The venue: Papa Gedes, a veritable Rum house tucked away in the Sydney CBD.

SCC organiser Inoka had used her connections to source some early batch (and in one case, an experimental batch) of rums from distillers in Thailand, Cambodia and Philippines and it was a real eye opener.

Beginning with two very earthy and lush agricole rums (a very distinct French Carribean rum produced from sugar cane juice rather than molasses) the long-established La Mauny from Mauritius was voted king of rock over its Thai challenger – Chalong Bay.

Next up were the traditional dark rums, with Phnom Penh’s restrained Samai distillery pulling one back for the challengers against Réunion’s rich, tobacco-tinted Rivier du Mat on the tongues of the judges.

To decide the night we turned to the spiced rums, Seychelles’ institution Takamaka Bay going head to head with Philippines juggernaut Don Papa. With the heady marzipan of the former against the bubble gum tones (yes, you read that correctly) of the latter (perhaps Papa Crazy is a more apt name) the judges gave a narrow victory to the challenger!

Ooh, watcha gonna do! It seems that south east Asia is already challenging the established rum makers with some very tasty drops.

A couple of delicious cocktails from the Papa Gedes staff showcasing two of the rums rounded out the evening.

A Sydney Cocktail Club night is a lot of fun in a relaxed setting and you come away with a real appreciation of not just the spirit on offer but for its production and its place in cultures around the world. You might even get the chance, like we did, to try spirits that are not even on the market yet or available in Australia. And with plenty more spirits to explore SCC should be running many more nights like this.

Want to join Sydney Cocktail Club and enjoy becoming a bit more discerning with your drinks? Of course you do! Walk this way: