I am not a rum drinker, so I went to the experts. Much of the following is from sources who do know rum –– good rum, fine, excellent rum. For sure, I’ll be trying “the new take on dark and stormy,” the Tormenta negra recipe from Chef Jamie Oliver. See his rum and food matches below. Also below, an Ask Men video on how to make a rum cocktail — “a must for every man.” You’ll love the bartender.
Rum, and its fraternal twin, cane spirit, are made by distilling fermented sugar and water. This sugar comes from the sugar cane and is fermented from cane juice, concentrated cane juice, or molasses. Molasses is the sweet, sticky residue that remains after sugar cane juice is boiled and the crystallized sugar is extracted.
Most Rum is made from molasses. Molasses is over 50% sugar, but it also contains significant amounts of minerals and other trace elements, which can contribute to the final flavor. Rums made from cane juice, primarily on Haiti and Martinique, have a naturally smooth palate.
Depending on the recipe, the “wash” (the cane juice, or molasses and water) is fermented, using either cultured yeast or airborne wild yeasts, for a period ranging from 24 hours for light Rums up to several weeks for heavy, full varieties. Source: Tastings.com
Chef Paul Yellin is known as The Rum Ambassador:
Why the love of rum? What’s not to love? I grew up on the island of Barbados, by many accounts the birthplace of the rum industry as we know it, home of the oldest rum brand on earth—Mount Gay—as well as some of the most decorated rum brands on the market. It’s part of the island and its peoples’ DNA—sugar is everywhere. Rums can affect the very fabric of space and time. I know this because when I’m with good company and drink rum, all of a sudden it’s 3 in the morning! Rum has a story and history that almost no other spirit can lay claim to. As my friend Ian Williams—he’s the author of a famous book about rum—writes, “rum was the lubricant and fuel for the whole engine of commerce that made the modern world. …
One of the first mentions of rum in any written history dates to 326 BC, during Alexander the Great’s invasion of India. A scribe records that they had a drink made from “honey that came from reeds without bees.” The first Sugar Cane in the new world was brought from the Canary Islands to Hispaniola by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the new world in 1493—and the crop failed at first because planting and harvesting techniques were not understood. It instead took off in Brazil, which had enormous tracts of land in the sixteenth century, and it was re-introduced to the Caribbean by Portuguese Jews fleeing persecution and settling in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and the Bahamas. And finally, note this: the making of rum is like the making of people. Both require time and patience, but also the ability to be aware of maturity over age. Age is a measure of time, while maturity reflects what the rum (or person) has learned—picked up and absorbed. This forms the quality of the end result.” Source: Forbes
Spanish-speaking islands traditionally produce light rums with a fairly clean taste. Rums from Cuba and Puerto Rico are typical of this style.
English-speaking islands are known for darker rums with a fuller taste that retain a greater amount of the underlying molasses flavor. Rums from Jamaica and the Demerera region of South America are typical of this style.
French-speaking islands are best known for their agricultural rums (rhum agricole). These rums, being produced exclusively from sugarcane juice, retain a greater amount of the original flavor of the sugarcane. Rums from Martinique and Guadeloupe are typical of this style.
WHITE: Due to cheap, harsh-tasting versions of days gone by, white (or light) rum has suffered from a bad reputation – one that is now thoroughly undeserved. Distilled in white oak barrels then filtered to make it clear, white rum usually isn’t aged, resulting in an uncomplex profile with subtle hints of almond and vanilla.
GOLDEN: Although the term ‘golden rum’ can refer to several different varieties, it generally indicates that the spirit has been aged in amber oak barrels. Flavour will vary depending on the distiller, but drinkers can expect distinct caramel and toffee notes with hints of toasted almond, banana, and, as you’d expect, an oaky finish. …
These work in headier, sweeter cocktails – think pineapple punch or a classic Cuba libre – and will prove useful in the kitchen too. Try adding a dash to a Caribbean-style jerk marinade, then using on chicken or pork – the resulting flavour will be lip-smackingly good. Or just sip, neat, to enjoy the more complex notes.
DARK: Sometimes referred to as black rum, this is usually aged in charred oak barrels for longer than its lighter-hued counterparts. Vanilla and caramel overtones give way to a smoky, intense finish. The flavour is a little more robust, so it’s the ideal choice to match with equally punchy ingredients; think smoky barbecue marinades and shorter, stronger cocktails like a rum old fashioned, a reimagining of the whiskey-based classic. For a new take on a dark and stormy, try the incredible Tormenta negra recipe from the July 2015 issue of Jamie magazine.
SPICED: Spicing rum was once little more than a cheap way of masking poor-quality spirits with overpowering flavours. These days there are far superior versions on the market, and spiced rum has seen a well-deserved spike in popularity as a result. The possibilities for flavourings are pretty endless, from fragrant herbs like rosemary to sweet caramel and citrus fruits, all of which compliment rum’s natural butterscotch tones – it’s hardly surprising spiced rum now has such an allure. Enjoy simply sipped over ice, or topped up with ginger beer, just like sailors used to.
Aged rums can be beautiful things. … The best examples are as delightful to sip neat or over an ice cube as any whiskey. And compared to whiskey, they’re for the most part blessedly inexpensive; you can pick up quite a few world-class options for under $40. Eventually, the rest of the staff relented and agreed to taste some rums.
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