Rum is derived from sugar cane. Thanks to Columbus' second trip he dropped some of the sweet grassy canes off in the Caribbean and the rest is history. There are tons of different types of rums from tons of different types of places. Most rum is made from molasses which is a byproduct of making sugar and most rum is aged in a barrel before it is bottled...even if it is bottled clear-- thanks to carbon filtering.
Regional differences are what make rum interesting to me. A rum from Jamaica is going to taste a heck of a lot different to one from Haiti or Guyana regardless of age and or color.
Regional Rum Basics
- English Rums are dense and usually distilled from Demerara (think brown sugar).
- Go with the Scarlet Ibis, or El Dorado of any age.
- Spanish Rums are lighter in flavor and mouthfeel and are distilled from molasses.
- White rums are lighter and mild. Unless you are a Rum-n-Coke person or a mojito lover (and by all means I recommend both entirely. You must however use a new bottle of Mexican Coke and fresh limes to make the first one sing. Fresh mint and limes for the latter.)
- Young Flor De Cana is nice but the are all over the news for being terrible to their employees. Havana Club (the real stuff) if you can find it is a great deal. Cana Brava always gets a bartender's thumbs up too. Look out for Brugal also.
- French R(h)ums are weird and funky and hail from the French West Indies. They are distilled from fresh squeezed sugar cane juice. Martinique Rhum Agricole has an AOC mark and is column distilled.
- Rhum “Blanc” has three months of rest.
- Rhum “eleve sous bois” (brought up in wood) has at least a year of age.
- Rhum “Vieux” has at least three years of time spent in wood.
- Go with Neissons Rhum Agricole, or Barbancourt out of Haiti. I am also a big fan of Saint James.
- Jamaican or Guyanese Rums are powerful and heavy in the mouth. Usually very dark and wine like but they also come in clear firewater styles also.
- Overproof Rum is very popular in the Caribbean and fraternity houses all over the United States. U.S. law prevents anything coming into the states over 155 proof so most brands hang out around the 151 mark.
- Wray and Nephew White OVP sits at 126 proof and is a good expansion bottle to keep around. Also out of the same distillery Appleton Estate V/X is a killer bottle to have also.
Navy Rums are usually a high alcohol blend of a few different regions including: Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad.
- The most famous brand would probably be the elusive and flammable Lemon Hart.
Cachaca is a Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. Distilled between 38%-48% abv.
- I do not like cachaca very much but if I am going to make a Caipirinha I use Ypioca. Traditional and industrial.
Mekhong is a Thai spirit that is classified as a whiskey. However its make up consists of 95% distilled sugar cane and molasses with the other 5% being made up of rice. After distillation it is blended with herbs and spices from the area. It is cut to a lower proof than most rums and almost seems to fit more in the "flavored" category. 35% ABV.
SangSom is another spirit from Thailand that is actually classified as a rum. It is a newer spirit, coming on the scene in late 1977. It is extremely hard to find unless you are in Thailand and thats about all I know about it.
Arrack comes from South/Southeast Asia and also somewhat falls into this spirit category as the main distillate is sugarcane. Red rice, coconut flower sap, and fruit can also make up a portion of the distillate depending on location.
- Batavia-Arrack is a great bottle to keep on your shelf. It adds a nice funky twist to daiquiris and its high alcohol percentage (50%) is desirable.
I keep the blended (Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Java) Banks 5 around for your Cube Libre or mojito and keep a bottle of Guyana's Eldorado 5 around for everything else. Also for a splurge and a treat keep a bottle of Hamilton St. Lucia 9 Year tucked in the back and away from fire.
“Why is the rum gone?” -Captain Jack Sparrow
Bar To Home
A simple translation from bar to home.