Is rum something new to you? A spirit like rum is fascinating, but often misunderstood. At one point, sailors and pirates even used rum as a currency.
Rum is a full-bodied spirit, soaked in history. Besides boasting some rich, nuanced flavor profiles, rum is also a highly versatile liquor. You can sip it neat, on the rocks, in a cooling cocktail, or with your choice of soda. It is still produced Worldwide. True to its buccaneering roots, rum tends to be subject to fewer controls and regulations in certain countries than other types of spirits.
Since rum-making traditions vary from region to region, there is a wide variety of rums.
A French rum is one produced in ex-French territories such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti. French rum is dominated by the Rhum Agricole style.
Rhum is usually made from sugar cane juice. As a result, it usually tastes earthy, more like sugarcane than molasses-based rums. According to the regulations, Rhum Agricole must be aged at least three months prior to consumption.
The Spanish-style rum is derived from islands and countries previously controlled by Spain. In addition, Puerto Rico and Cuba are the two countries that produce the largest amount of light rum in the world.
Typically, Spanish-style rum is made with molasses sugar as a base. In spite of the fact that most Spanish-style rum is light, there are many regional variations. As an example, the Canary Islands produce a honey-flavored molasses rum, which is much darker than Spanish-speaking rums.
The British territories in the West Indies were no small player in the production of rum, its popularization, and its use as a currency.
Typically, English rum is darker and molasses-based. In addition to spiced rums, the British West Indies is known for over proof rums.
The British West Indies also have a fair amount of rum variation. Barbados rums, for example, are often mixed with column stills to create a balanced, medium-bodied flavor. In contrast, Jamaican rum tends to have a more intense, fruity, and full-bodied flavor profile. Fermentation periods are often longer and have some similarities to sour mash whiskey where the bottom still sediment goes into the following batches.
The white and light rums often get a bad rap for being unmatured and lacking in nuance. However, this isn’t true for all white rum.
A majority of light rums spend at least three years in oak barrels before being bottled. They gain a golden color as a result of this process. Rum undergoes a charcoal filtering process after it has been aged. This removes the pigment and leaves it with a clear hue.
Cheaper white rums aren’t aged well, which is why it has a reputation of being of low quality. Nevertheless, if you treat yourself to a good white rum, you might be surprised at how rich the flavor is.
There is a common misconception that the darker a rum is, the longer it will age. While this isn’t always true, it can be a general indicator of aging.
A distiller can remove pigments from rum to make it clear, as well as add pigments to darken it. Because of this, not all dark rums are actually well-aged. Dark rums are also sometimes confused with black rums or blackstraps. These contain additional molasses and are a lot sweeter than true dark rum. They’re best suited to dark and stormy cocktails.
It is best to enjoy dark rum neat, since they have exceptionally deep, complex flavor profiles. Using a fine dark rum in a cocktail will dilute and obscure the flavor.
Most often, distilleries will start with light rum as a base, and then add various spices, including clove, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and rosemary.
Flavored rum is another popular choice. There are a lot of flavored rums sold nowadays that aren’t actually rum. Rather, they’re rum-based liqueurs. Most coconut and pineapple rums are like this. We recommend Koloa Kauai Coconut Rum if you’re looking for a true coconut rum. A beautifully nuanced, highly-mixable 80-proof rum made with water from Hawaii’s Mount Waialeale volcano.