Rum: The Basics

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What You Need To Know

Rum is an enigma offering something of merit to nearly every grade of consumer. Rum can be cheap and fiery best enjoyed whilst masked by ice, fruit juice, and a clever vessel. Rum can also be subtle, intriguing, and dare I say contemplative. Rum is deeply associated with the Caribbean, which is due in great part to tremendous quantities of sugar grown and produced in these tropical islands. Sugar, or more often the sugar-refining by-product known as molasses, is the key and often sole component save yeast and water. As is the case with many spirits, Rum is more exciting today than ever. The deep, dark, and wonderfully complex Rums coming out of Guatemala, Venezuela, Guyana, and Martinique (among others) are producing spirits that rival the world’s best brown spirits.

The Experts Rap

Don’t be tempted to qualify aged Rum based on years in cask. Aged Rums are best considered as we do “dog years.” Any spirit aged in a hot, humid climate is going to have far more wood interaction and extraction than would a Cognac, or Scotch Whisky. Heat and humidity hasten the process. Additionally, all molasses based Rums are not the same. Soils influence sugar just as it does grapes in the vineyard. The soil type and perhaps more importantly, the soil PH influences the cane juice, the molasses, and the subsequent Rum. Keep a keen eye on the slowly emerging popularity of Rhum Agricole. These interesting spirits are made from cane juice rather than molasses in French controlled Caribbean islands such as Martinique. Aged Rhum Agricole is similar to Cognac in weight and character and can sell for XO like prices. Be ahead of the curve like the experts and seek out Rhum Agricole.

When and How

Rum is a versatile and multi-seasonal spirit. Rum is the key component of the beach resort FuFu cocktail (anything served inside of a pineapple or coconut is likely to be rum based). Rum is also associated with the holidays being served with eggnog in order to give meaning to the otherwise drab holiday company party. Get the full rap on Rum here.