Rum and Aging. Have you heard that the reason rum is often more affordable than other aged spirits (like whiskies or brandies) is because it “ages faster” in warmer tropical climates? What does that actually mean?
Well, what is aging? Aging represents the changes that occur between the freshly distilled spirit and its form after sitting inside a wooden barrel for some time. During that time, nature works its magic as the wood interacts with the alcohol, changing its chemical composition and leaching flavors. Additionally, since wood is a semi-porous material, evaporation is inevitable and each year, as much as 5-15% can be lost as the “angel’s share.” The rate at which all these changes occur is largely dependent on the temperature (as well as type of wood barrel, level of charred-ness of the wood, etc). In the Caribbeans (where most rum is made/aged), temperatures stay consistently hot year round, so this process happens much quicker than in colder regions where barrel-aging occurs (i.e. Scotland, US midwest, France, etc). As a result, a 5 year old rum aged in the Caribbeans may have similar levels of barrel-spirit interaction changes as a 10 year old scotch (aged in Scotland). Which means…more bang for your buck.
Since so much volume is lost each year due to evaporation, it becomes incrementally more expensive to sustain a longer-aged product. Not only does it take more time before they can put their product on the market, they essentially also lose sell-able volume each year. This is why longer-aged products are often non-linearly more expensive than their shorter-aged counterparts.
In conclusion: save $$$ and drink more rum. 😉