The cane spirit made famous by literary heroes such as Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson is also the key ingredient in the world’s biggest selling cocktail.
Rum was first distilled by slaves working in sugar plantations under British rule. They would take the molasses that was considered a waste product of the sugar production and crudely distill it to create an alcoholic beverage. The intoxicating effect was a welcome relief from the harshness of the cane fields, however crude it was. This early rum production also gave rise to the process of barrel ageing. The British soldiers wanted to return home with stocks of the rum and barrels were the best method of transport. Upon arriving home, they discovered the spirit had turned brown, but it hadn’t taken on the flavour of the wood and had become considerably less harsh.
There are several styles of rum. The two main ones are made from molasses and they’re either distilled in a pot or column still. Generally we separate them into British varieties, which are bigger, heavier bodied rums made in a pot still, then there’s Spanish, which are much lighter and softer, made in column stills.
White rums are simply those that have been aged for less time (or no time at all in some cases) and contain a lot less flavour. Gold and Dark rums have been aged for a considerable amount of time, from a few years up to 12 in some cases. Lighter drinks such as Mojitos and Daiquiris favour good white rums, while strong drinks need a bit more punch that dark rums offer, like the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.
Rum is a much more diverse drink than it would first appear and you should always buy rum according to what you’re planning on mixing. Spiced rums are a great way to ensure you get a little more sweetness and body to your drinks. If you’re looking for perfect summer refreshers, you can’t go past a good white rum.
Whatever the case, it’s a spirit worth celebrating.
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