Welcome to the Rum Series! Rum has been gradually rising in popularity with the resurgent interest in tiki and the general craft cocktail movement. As an aged spirit, rum is one of the best bangs for your buck and is absolutely delicious, diverse, and well…often misunderstood and misrepresented.
Starting out: what is rum? Rum is defined as a distilled spirit made from sugarcane and its derivatives (fresh sugarcane juice, cooked sugarcane syrup, or molasses). It can be made anywhere in the world using various methods (pot stills, column stills, different yeasts and fermentation processes). As such, there is huge variety in the spirit and unlike other spirits that have widely-circulated and understood categories (i.e. whiskies: rye, bourbon, scotch; brandies: Cognac, Calvados, Pisco), rum categories are less well understood by consumers along with limited regulatory enforcement for labeling.
That all said, “getting into rum” can be confusing. The list of brands and styles of rums called for in tiki and other recipes is vast and can be overwhelming. Depending on where you look, there are tens of ways of “categorizing” rum. Dark/Gold/Silver? Flavored/Spiced/Unflavored? Aged/XO/Unaged? English/Spanish/French? Premium/Mixing/Overproof? Column-still/Pot-still? In this series, I’ll go over some basic topics on rum including common misconceptions, along with some recommended bottles to start your collection with, so you can build a knowledge baseline to navigate around all the various styles and products out there. Sooo, grab yourself some rum and get ready.