A Well-Rounded Rum Collection for Your Well-Stocked Bar
As you continue to fill out your well-stocked bar, you didn't think we'd forget about rum, did you? The kill-devil, one of rum's many delightful nicknames, is a ubiquitous mixer and just about any guest you invite over will be happy to enjoy a rum drink. For some, that's the only pleasing liquor in a mixed drink. First, some basics. All rum is made from fermented sugar of some form or another. Different types of rum are made from sugar cane, molasses or cane syrup. The distillation processalso separates the types of rum. Most rums are then aged in some kind of cask or barrel, which is another way they can be distinguished. For example, it'll be no surprise that your Jack Daniel's drinkers prefer Appleton's rum, because they age it in old Jack Daniel's barrels. To round out your bar, stock a few different types of rum and keep everyone, including your tastebuds, happy.
Start off with a white rum, which is perfect for mixed drinks that call for the pirate's drink (another sweet rum nickname) but not a heavy rum taste. Coladas, daiquiris, mojitos and even that rum and coke. White rums are aged, but then the color and barrel hints are filtered out for a lighter taste. You probably don't need to spend a ton on a white rum, since you're going to be mixing it more than sipping it. Leave the Bacardi on the shelf and treat your cocktail drinkers to an inexpensive bottle of Don Q Cristal or El Dorado 3 year.
Your dark rums are where deeper, more interesting flavor starts to come in. These are great for drinks that call for a stronger rum flavor but a low alcohol taste, like the perfect dark and stormy. Dark rums are often made with molasses and then aged in oak for long periods like other rums, but then, especially in the case of black rums, coloring or flavor may be added for a richer taste profile. Dark or black rums are also great for cooking. Gosling's Black Seal rum is a perfect choice: the flavor is rich, but you don't have to be. You can pick up a bottle for about $20.
Premium Aged Rum
A premium aged rum is that special rum a distiller keeps locked up in barrels for a very long time. With this kind of rum, you get a sipping experience that is smooth and full of flavor. Having at least one aged rum on hand will show you aren't just a rum mixer, you're a rum expert. Some bottles of Nelson's blood (yup, another cool nickname) can fetch absurdly high amounts, depending on the type of barrel and how long it's been aging, but you can get into the market for $30 with the Appleton Estate Reserve rum. It's blended with other rums in the distillery, which keeps the price down and the flavor up. And you can't go wrong with a Caribbean rum. If you like that, work your way up the age (and price) scale.
Here's where you can really start to impress people. A rhum agricole is special indeed, as the process of creating it is specific to areas in the French Caribbean, like Martinique and St. Bart's. It's made from fresh cane juice and only distilled to 70 percent alcohol to retain the cane juice flavor. It's aged in oak barrels like other rums, but ends up with a fuller, brown-sugar flavor with other hints of spice and earth. You definitely don't want to waste a Rhum Agricole in a cocktail -- drink it straight, or not at all. You might have to search a bit to find it, but if you can, treat yourself to Rhum Agricole Vieux Neissonfrom the Neisson distillery in Martinique. It may set you back $50 or more, but it's worth every penny.
The list of rums to include in your bar could go on for a mile, so at this point, you may have to do your own experimenting. Work in a specialty rum so you have an opportunity to show off your knowledge of the subject. Go for a well-blended Solera, which can be an art form with the right master distiller, like the Santa Teresa 1796 which is blended with rums aged in old sherry barrels from four to 35 years. Grab a spiced or coconut rum to please the sweet-toothed mixers in your midst. Search out an Aguardiente, or “fire water,” which is a non-aged liquor most often made from sugar cane, some of which are flavored with anise or other fruits and spices. The possibilities are endless.
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