Liquor & SpiritsNuetral Spirits
Rum is a spirit made by fermenting and distilling some form of sugar
cane, usually molasses, and is produced in almost every island where sugar
cane is grown.
Christopher Columbus is most often credited with bringing sugar cane from the Canary Islands to the West Indies on his second voyage to the New World, and it soon became an important crop throughout the Carribean. Rum was first distilled in that area in the mid-l7th century, initially as a way to dispose of excess molasses. The spirit was dispensed to slaves working the plantations.
Regardless of its origins, rum gradually developed into a saleable commodity, and an important part of Colonial America's economy as well. Starting in the late 1600's, molasses from the West Indies was shipped to New England where it was distilled into rum. Barrels of rum were then shipped from New England to Africa's Gold Coast where the cargo was bartered for slaves who, in turn, were transported to the West Indies to work on the cane plantations. This was the infamous triangular trade route which lasted until slave traffic was finally stopped in the earls 19th century. And so with its elimination. Rum production gradually diminished. As whiskey was soon to take over as the leading American spirit, rum demand also declined.
Currently, rum's popularity is on the upswing - notably the light-bodied, mixable Puerto Rican rums. And even the more full bodied island rums are gaining some awareness.
Today's rums are classified into two main groups: light-bodied and full-bodied, each with subcategories:
Light -bodied rums - made in column stills, they tend to be crisp and dry, with subtle flavor and aroma. Most of them have only a hint of molasses character; some rums even approach vodka in neutrality
Full-bodied rums - made in pot stills, they maintain an unmistakable relationship to cane sugar and molasses. Often perceived as sweet; in actuality they are not, although they are aromatic, round, and full in the mouth.
Puerto Rican Rums - Peurto Rico, the world's leading rum producer, sets the standard for light bodied rums, and every aspect of production is geared to distill clean, muted spirits. Fermentation of molasses is careful!>' controlled with the use of special strains of yeast, and distillation is done in column stills.
White Puerto Rican rums are the lightest, driest and most vodka-like. By law they must be distilled at no less than 180 proof; aged in wood for a minimum of one year, and filtered before bottling to remove any color
Bacardi - far and away the leading Puerto Rican rum, and the least rum-like, it quite possibly could pass for vodka in a blind tasting.
The gold or amber Puerto Rican rums are somewhat fuller and more aromatic than the white rums. They must be distilled to a minimum of 175 proof and are aged for a minimum of a year . The most distinctive Puerto Rican rums are the anejos, distilled to the same proof as the goIds. but aged 4-6 yrs. They are selected for aging potential and are the most flavorful of Puerto Rican rums. While both gold and anejo rums acquire color from the wood aging, caramel is usually added before bottling to achieve the desired shade.
All Puerto Rican rums are blended after aging, but only with each other, never with neutral grain spirits. Although 80 proof is standard for Puerto Rican rums, a certain amount gold is bottled at 151 proof.
Bacardi Black Label - full, sweet and rich for a Puerto Rican rum and yet very smooth 80 proof.
Bacardi Gold 151 - rocket fuel: strong and dominant, heavy alcohol on the nose and palate Meant for maximum effect.
Jamaican Rums - production for classic Jamaican rums differs considerably from the Puerto Rican method. The molasses is reinforced with "dunder", skimmings from previous distillations. and fermented with both wild and cultured yeasts. This is followed by double-distillation in pot stills, which yields a fairly low-proof distillate. The rums are aged from 5-8 yrs and occasionally longer and, after blending, are. darkened with caramel. These rums are full-bodied and richly aromatic with an enveloping tang of molasses.
Meyers Original Dark Rum - the prototype for deep, rich, intensely flavored Jamaican rums
Barbados Rums - These are intermediate rums in both color and taste, somewhere between the light-bodied Puerto Rican rums anti the heavier Jamaican rums. Amber in color, they are medium-bodied, soft, aromatic, and slightly sweet on the finish.
Mt. Gay Eclipse - the classic Barbados rum, it is a blend of cane sugar and molasses, distilled in both pot and continuous stills.
Cockspur - light-medium bodied Barbados rum, golden in color, soft with a slightly sweet molasses flavor.
Martinique Rums - these are pot distilled rums, such as those produced by Rhum St. James. are rich and dark with a pronounced rum character in the heavier middle range. Rhum Clement makes lighter but very flavorful column-stilI rums distilled from cane juice. Martinique rums are very popular in France.
Haiti-Rhum Barbancourt Reserve - one of the finest of all rums, its production methods resemble those of cognac in more than one aspect. The sugar cane used for Barbancourt rums is grown on chalky soil which gives the finished product great finesse. Like cognac, these rums are double-distilled in pot stills and aged in small French Limousin oak barrels. The Reserve, aged for 15 yrs in oak, resembles cognac in its full body, complexity, and long, lingering finish.