Tuesday Tools & Tricks #12: Know Your Rum!

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A very happy Tuesday, readers!

For this week’s tools and tricks we decided to delve a little deeper into the wonderful, amazing, delicious, but often confusing world of rum.

There is a whole lot of variety out there, and although most of us probably came to know rum as either light, dark, or spiced, the reality is really quite different.

So let us do some educating, if you will.

Light, dark, or spiced. Boy oh boy how wrong we all were…

Rum actually has a rather wide range of varieties, each with distinctive flavor profiles, proof, and usage.

Lets break it down. The most common varieties of rum are:

Traditional Rum:

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As the name suggests, this rum varient is the traditional form of rum, meaning that it is made using the same (or at least similar) methods to those first used in rum production. Most importantly, it is distilled using a pot still, which is an older and slower still which creates rums that are slightly lower in alcohol content, and maintain more of the sugarcane flavor.

Traditional rum can be either new or barrel aged, which is where the color distinctions you are likely used to are derived. Barrel aged rum is brown in color (ranging from a golden brown to a very dark mollasses) because of the wood barrels in which it is stored. Aged rum is more complex in flavor, having picked up notes from the barrels themselves. New or young rum is bottled directly or shortly after distillation, which means that it will maintain its original clear color.

Light Rum: 

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Light rum is made using the newer distillation method, which utilizes a continuous still. A pot still requires a fair amount of labor and time in order to produce alcohol, whereas a continuous still–like its name suggests–can work much more efficiently. Rum made with this method tends to be higher in alcohol content and contain less of the flavor from the sugarcane.

Light rum can be young or aged, so don’t let the color fool you!

Blended rum: 

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Blended rum is just that, rum that has been made by blending light and traditional rum. This rum is often labeled as “overproof” because the alcohol content will be higher than traditional rum.

Blended rum is often young, but it can also be aged.

Spiced rum: 

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This is where many people tend to get lost, but never fear! Spiced rum is simply rum that has been flavored to give it a distinctive, spiced, flavor. The spices are added after the rum has been distilled, and they most often include vanilla, cinnamon, orange peel, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Individual brands all use different combinations, so the flavor in different spiced rums varies greatly. Most spiced rums start out as slightly-aged rum (either traditional or light), and you can easily make your own at home if you have some of the above mentioned spices, some rum, and an airtight container. Just toss a bit of your favorite spices in with the rum, seal the container, and let it sit for a while. It’s as easy as that.

Inlander Rum:

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Now this is a rum you very rarely see. The most commonly sold brand in the US is Stroh, and they make two versions, Stroh 60 and Stroh 80. And yes, that means 120 and 160 proof rum.

The story behind inlander rum is quite interesting. In the 17th and 18th centuries, transporting rum into the landlocked areas of Europe was extremely difficult and extremely costly, and even if they could get the rum to where they wanted it to be much of it would have gone bad before it arrived. So, those intrepid ladies and gents in the Alps realized that they could take a small amount of rum and re-distill it with cheaper alcohols (usually a neutral, grain spirit) to create rum of their own. The result was extremely high proof, extremely low sugar content rum that, oddly enough, has a very strong almost cake-like scent. But trust us, the stuff is not for the faint of heart. It can be delicious in many hot rum drinks, coffee drinks, and a few selective cocktails, but don’t go drinking this straight unless you want to end up in the hospital.

151:

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We’ve covered this before, but to recap: 151 is a specific type of overproof rum that is, you guessed it, 151 proof. The most common brand is Bacardi, and it is most often used as a float in tiki and other tropical rum drinks. Like Inlander rum, this stuff is not to be taken lightly.

….

That is pretty much it, unless you want to start talking about the artificially flavored crap that you want to pretend you never drank in college (and we certainly don’t).

We hope you will take at least some of this knowledge with you in your future boozy travels, and at the very least will know that if a bartender ever asks you if you want light or dark rum in something you should pack up and leave immediately. And maybe throw a drink in their face as you go.

Until tomorrow, readers!

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