Liquor & SpiritsNuetral Spirits
Rum is a spirit made by fermenting and distilling some form of sugarcane, usually molasses, and is produced in almost every island where sugarcane is grown.
Christopher Columbus is most often credited with bringing sugar cane fromthe 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 firstdistilled in that area in the mid-l7th century, initially as a way to disposeof 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 inthe late 1600's, molasses from the West Indies was shipped to New Englandwhere it was distilled into rum. Barrels of rum were then shipped from NewEngland 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 trafficwas finally stopped in the earls 19th century. And so with its elimination.Rum production gradually diminished. As whiskey was soon to take over asthe 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 aregaining 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 crispand dry, with subtle flavor and aroma. Most of them have only a hint ofmolasses character; some rums even approach vodka in neutrality
Full-bodied rums - made in pot stills, they maintain an unmistakablerelationship to cane sugar and molasses. Often perceived as sweet; in actualitythey 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 productionis geared to distill clean, muted spirits. Fermentation of molasses is careful!>'controlled with the use of special strains of yeast, and distillation isdone in column stills.
White Puerto Rican rums are the lightest, driest and most vodka-like. Bylaw they must be distilled at no less than 180 proof; aged in wood for aminimum 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 aromaticthan the white rums. They must be distilled to a minimum of 175 proof andare aged for a minimum of a year . The most distinctive Puerto Rican rumsare 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 PuertoRican 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 witheach other, never with neutral grain spirits. Although 80 proof is standardfor Puerto Rican rums, a certain amount gold is bottled at 151 proof.
Bacardi Black Label - full, sweet and rich for a Puerto Rican rumand yet very smooth 80 proof.
Bacardi Gold 151 - rocket fuel: strong and dominant, heavy alcoholon the nose and palate Meant for maximum effect.
Jamaican Rums - production for classic Jamaican rums differs considerablyfrom the Puerto Rican method. The molasses is reinforced with "dunder",skimmings from previous distillations. and fermented with both wild andcultured yeasts. This is followed by double-distillation in pot stills,which yields a fairly low-proof distillate. The rums are aged from 5-8 yrsand occasionally longer and, after blending, are. darkened with caramel.These rums are full-bodied and richly aromatic with an enveloping tang ofmolasses.
Meyers Original Dark Rum - the prototype for deep, rich, intenselyflavored Jamaican rums
Barbados Rums - These are intermediate rums in both color and taste,somewhere between the light-bodied Puerto Rican rums anti the heavier Jamaicanrums. Amber in color, they are medium-bodied, soft, aromatic, and slightlysweet on the finish.
Mt. Gay Eclipse - the classic Barbados rum, it is a blend of canesugar and molasses, distilled in both pot and continuous stills.
Cockspur - light-medium bodied Barbados rum, golden in color, softwith a slightly sweet molasses flavor.
Martinique Rums - these are pot distilled rums, such as those producedby Rhum St. James. are rich and dark with a pronounced rum character inthe heavier middle range. Rhum Clement makes lighter but very flavorfulcolumn-stilI rums distilled from cane juice. Martinique rums are very popularin France.
Haiti-Rhum Barbancourt Reserve - one of the finest of allrums, 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 givesthe finished product great finesse. Like cognac, these rums are double-distilledin 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, andlong, lingering finish.