RUM - SCOURGE OF SAILORS? OR NECTAR OF THE GODS?
With most spirits, each has its own sordid past of shame, public indecency and moral corruption. But as the new world evolved so did our spirits, they moved from the back alleys, bath tub joints and boot legging hideouts to state of the art distilleries. While the spirits evolved some of the old impressions of yesteryear still lingered in the minds of the drinker. Rum is no exception to these historical indifferences with sordid tales of rum runners, pirates, and the slave trade while modern tales of teenage angst, late night binges in the headlights of a Camino by the local waterhole still sear in peoples memories. But rum's image is getting a huge transformation in the form of beautifully balanced, crisp blancos and rich, creamy anejos. Very quickly more and more examples of the Caribbean's finest export are making their way into the bar and onto the hippest bars cocktail lists.
Rum is becoming more popular within the bartending community because of its amazing versatility. What other spirit can be gentle sweet white rum to thick, smoky dark rum with everything in between. Rum is distilled from molasses, which is derived from sugar cane; sugar cane was originally from the Canary Islands, but was introduced to the West Indies by Christopher Columbus. The word rum is believed to come from a number of sources, two of which are rumbustion meaning uproar & rumbullion meaning rumpus (probably from what happens when rum was consumed). The other, is Latin for sugar, saccharum. Whatever the meaning of the name, the word rum has been dotted throughout history that many other spirits cannot contest to.
It is thought that the first spirit distilled in the US was in fact rum, distilled in Boston from molasses imported from the West Indies. Rum can be distilled anywhere where sugar cane is readily available. By the mid eighteenth century, there were nearly one hundred distilleries dotted throughout the Caribbean, each producing their own style of rum. Each country has a distinctively different style of rum making, from the smooth "single barrel" styles of Nicaragua, to the smoky styles of Jamaica. With white, dry rums to 12 year old full bodied sippers, the list is endless.
When you think of classic Caribbean cocktails you start thinking about Daiquiris, Mojitos and Batidas. They all use rum as their main component; they are refreshing, cool and the hippest thing to drink at the trendiest bars. But rum has more versatility than just the classics; white rum can replace vodka in cocktails while darker rums can replace scotch and whiskies. Your creative abilities are endless and people are starting to realize this as well, Vinnie Jones and his Bacardi Mojito ads had a huge hand in the push for rum drinking.
Mixologists are now getting on the rum band wagon as well. Chris Guthrie from Elysium in Brisbane, Australia says "I love rum, it is easily my favorite spirit, so many different styles and tastes make rum the most versatile spirit in my opinion, from a light white Cuban style rum in a mojito to a heavier aged rum from Jamaica in a treacle or Mai Tai. Rum is definitely the king of spirits, so much history as well."
Rum is now making a significant impression on mixology throughout the funkiest bars. Next time you're in that funky little hot spot, ask for a aged rum on the rocks or a mojito and join the latest trend in spirits.
"VIVA LA REVOLUCION DEL RON"
- BACARDI CARTA BLANCA - Clean, crisp and versatile. The main ingredient in Bacardi and Coke, it is said that a Bacardi and Coke is sold around the world every 2 seconds. Although this product is used in almost every classic cocktail, don't be afraid to use the aged rums to give the drinks a little but more complexity.
- APPLETON ESTATE - Appleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum is an exceptional blend of several rums of varying types and ages that have been aged for up to 10 years. It has a rich entry and a long, full finish.
- SAILOR JERRY'S SPICED RUM - As soon as you open the cap on this Virgin Island rum based spiced rum, the waft of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves slaps you in the face. On the palate it is smooth, creamy and exhibits the most spice I have ever tasted.
- FLORA DE CANA 7YR OLD - Premium, full-bodied rum aged seven years to achieve a rich mahogany colour and a smooth flavour. This is the next step on your burgeoning rum education; drink this neat or on the rocks with a nice cigar.
- FLORA DE CANA 12YR OLD - If you become a rum connoisseur, this is what you will want in your collection. Its Flor de Cana's superior, award winning full-bodied twelve years old. It has a rich amber colour and the flavours you expect, butter, toffee and cinnamon. Enjoy this one slowly on the rocks or neat.
- BACARDI 8 - Smooth and creamy, another afficinado rum. Flavours of rich caramel, chocolate and spice with just a hint of tropical fruit.