Today, August 16th, we celebrate rum, the wonderful spirit that is the base of many classic cocktails including the Daiquiri, Mai Tai and Piña Colada. Rum was instrumental in the growth of the American colonies, Australia and was a staple for British sailors until 1970.
So What is Rum?
It is a spirit distilled from molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar manufacture. There are a few instances where Rum is made from straight cane juice. Rum is produced just about any where people grow sugar cane, but it’s true home lies in the West Indies. The style of Rum differs from island to island, with lighter rums coming from Spanish-speaking islands, darker from English-speaking islands and cane juice based from the french speaking islands.
Rum is produced in 3 main styles. White, Gold and Dark.White rum, the best coming from Cuba or Puerto Rico, are un-aged.
Gold rum, which has been barrel aged giving it a but more flavor and character.
Dark rum, is aged the longest in heavily charred barrels. This type of rum is synonymous with Jamaica and Bermuda, but some very fine Dark Rums are now being produced in Nicaragua and Honduras. Dark Rum is also used in cooking quite often.
Yet another type is rhum agricole, typically made in the French West Indies, is made from made from pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses. It may be a bit rougher than your molasses based Rum.
There are also several other types of rum that are really variants of the main three, including Spiced Rum, Flavored and the oh-so-scary 151, which is an over proof rum. Many distilleries are also making super premium Rums that compete with fine cognac and whiskeys.
Rum is the base of many “Polynesian” drinks found in Tiki bars around the world. Ironically, most of these “Polynesian” drinks originated in the Caribbean or in the case of the Mai Tai – Oakland, California.
Rum is a now experiencing a renaissance, much like bourbon and tequila before it. There is so much more to it than Coke.