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Olly Smith looks forward to the rum renaissance

What has 2017 taught us? That Tales Of The Unexpected is fact rather than fiction? You’ll never regret an early night? Or perhaps that a good meal is always a great idea. 

For me, there have been some notable drinks trends that may point the way to what’s in store for 2018. Prosecco’s popularity is up but yields are down, so hunting your fruity bubbly from elsewhere in Italy might prove tempting. 

Sicily is a decent option but consider French Crémant – deploying exactly the same production method of Champagne for a snip of the price. English sparkling wine has rightly been gaining the adulation it deserves. 

Majestic has reported a 378 per cent increase in year-on-year sales of super-sized bottles under £20. And I’m delighted to see that my old favourite fortified Madeira is also up 224 per cent on 2016. 

Across Great Britain, rivers of gin have also been flowing and flavoured gins such as rhubarb and honey are set to boom in 2018. If you’re after a gin of sensational provenance and quality with a point of difference, go for Nikka Coffey Gin from Japan (£44.95 from 

With zesty yuzu and a dart of spice it’ll take your mood straight to cruising altitude. But I think rum is really set to boom, in particular, bottles with provenance, craft and zero additives such as my pick below. 

As for wine, El Niño is giving the South American grape harvest trouble, so next year Eastern Europe could be the place to look for value – Romania in particular, with a 60 per cent harvest increase. 

And Italy’s whites beyond Pinot Grigio are finally breaking through – Fiano, Pecorino, Grillo, Falanghina and Carricante can all be stunning. But for a real tale of the unexpected, check out my Erbaluce Italian pick above for a very Happy New Year!