Of all spirits, rum has a truly fascinating history. While it is commonly associated with the tropical shores of the Caribbean, its history is thought to date back thousands of years to India and China, too. Anywhere that produces sugar cane can also produce rum. Essentially, it is distilled from fermented molasses (a by-product of creating suga...
Of all spirits, rum has a truly fascinating history. While it is commonly associated with the tropical shores of the Caribbean, its history is thought to date back thousands of years to India and China, too. Anywhere that produces sugar cane can also produce rum. Essentially, it is distilled from fermented molasses (a by-product of creating sugar, that is usually thick and viscous), or sugar cane juice that has been freshly pressed. Molasses based rum therefore is usually sweet and harbors flavors of tropical fruits and bananas, and sugar cane juice is more vegetal, with a grassy quality. It can be enjoyed neat, particularly if it has been aged for a long time in barrels, while newer spirits are favorites for cocktails; Tiki or classic.
Rum comes in a whole host of varieties, depending on how long it has been aged, and where.
- White rum is usually light-bodied and is sometimes filtered to remove any color. It is a popular option for cocktails.White rum originated in Cuba, but is also produced in countries such as Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Barbados also produce wonderfully fruity and refined rums.
- Cachaça is a Brazilian rum made with freshly-pressed cane juice. It is famous for its use in the Brazilian national cocktail, the Caipirinha. It is herbal in nature, and is also aged for different periods. This type of rum is also known as rhum agricole, produced in a similar way, distilling the fresh juice, except in the French West Indies.
- Gold or “amber” rum is aged in wooden barrels, and is medium bodied. Hot and humid climates result in gold rums, and sometimes caramel is added to give its color. In Guyana, for example, they produce rum with Demerara sugar.
- Dark rum is made from caramelized molasses. It is aged for long periods of time in charred barrels hence its thick, full-bodied and spicy flavor. They can be nutty and bold, and are produced in countries such as Jamaica, Martinique and Haiti.
- Spiced rum is infused with a selection of spices to create more aromatic flavors. Spices might include aniseed, pepper, rosemary or cinnamon.
- Blackstrap rum is as the name suggests; dark and rich. It is made from distilling blackstrap molasses. Overproof rum can be distilled up to 160 proof, and is often used in cocktails that are ignited.
Molasses is mixed with equal parts water, to then be fermented and distilled. The high-quality rums are produced in pot stills, and are aged for long periods. White, younger rums are created in column stills and might be immediately bottled after distillation. Others might be set aside briefly, and others aged in oak for many years. The maturation process is sped up considerably due to the typical hot and humid climates in which it is produced, such as the Caribbean. Older rums are more deeply colored, and mellow. They might have deeper vanilla and caramel notes, and will usually be blended for a consistent spirit.
Varied and highly versatile, rum is a delicious spirit with a whole range to choose from.