If you drink rum in the morning, you’re not an alcoholic, you’re a pirate.
So August is Rum Month and I thought I’d do you favor by giving you a little education about rum.
“But it’s only May,” you ask? “Why are you blogging about rum now?”
Well I thought I’d give you a head start so you could go beyond the Bacardi swill and become enlightened by a master of rum - namely me. So I’m sacrificing myself to taste and review a few rums over the next few weeks - just for you!
A dram (or tot) is a portion, a modicum, a sample of the item in question. So, in each article, I’ll give tidbits of wisdom about rum, and provide you a little (a dram) of information about some of the better rums out there. Of course, this is my opinion as a long-time rum sampler. I recommend you ditch the fancy umbrella and sugar laden blue crap they mix with rum, only to hide it in a bunch of crushed ice (which suppresses the taste buds!)
A Little Background
Though the earliest origins of rum can be traced back to China, it’s the Caribbean that made rum what it is today. In fact, it was rum that played a role in the American revolution. The Sugar Act in 1764 was an attempt to raise revenue for the British. Colonists felt that this move was one of a few recent moves to put in place “taxation without representation.” Did you know that George Washington insisted on a barrel of Barbados rum being available at his 1789 inauguration? President Washington didn’t have fake news, but he had fake teeth! I’m not sure, but the sugar in the rum may have contributed to their decay. Likely, Pres. Washington had a bottle of something that you can purchase today - Mount Gay (Go for the extra old - delicious).
Mount Gay is the oldest of the rum manufacturers. Hailing from Barbados, Mount Gay started producing rum 1705. This is why one of the long-held nicknames for rum is “Barbados water.” The rum is made from sugar cane - or more specifically - from the one-time waste of sugar cane. Christopher Columbus brought Sugar cane to the “new world.” It’s production burgeoned in the tropical climate of the Caribbean. Slaves would harvest the cane. The leftover material was taken by the slaves, boiled, and put in clay pots. The pots would allow the water to evaporate, but retain the thick dark substance we know as molasses.
This was mixed with spices and other ingredients and boiled a second time. It was allowed to ferment naturally into something that we call rum. Today, the process is slightly different, but its origins harken back to the spice islands. Rum was put in casks along with such spices as cinnamon, rosemary, anise, absinthe, pepper, or caramel. Today, many rum producers favor vanilla and honey in addition, to smooth out rum’s often biting flavor.
Review of Ableworth’s Rumbullion: Xo 15 years old
Alcohol: (50CL, 46.2%) Alcohol
Color: Mid- to light amber color
Bouquet: hints of allspice and lavender. I like it because it doesn’t have the standard “rum” smell - where the molasses and sugars dominate the evervessence.
The first taste shows its superiority amongst rums. It has a bite to it, but the complexity of flavors is difficult to describe. There are a multiple of spices that each seem to carry their distinct character with this rum. So the palate is forced to catch up. It is almost as if it isn’t one flavor but a myriad, like a greek salad, or a pizza with a bunch of toppings. Each sample is different from the last. After only two sips the tongue is already going soft.
This is an excellent sipping rum, whose long finish allows the user to sample, and socialize while the flavors do their dance in the mouth. Like a fine wine, I like to trill the rum to allow the flavor to enter the sinus cavity. There, I’m transported to the wooden ships of days old. These must have been marvelous casks. There isn’t an overwhelming taste of char. Neither is there a maple “newness” that can be found in some fresh casks. You have to let the rum rest on all parts of the tongue to truly reveal the magnificence of such a rare and wonderful drink.
The rum touts its Madagascar vanilla, but it is suppressed by the other spices: vibrant orange peel, clove, cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom. I thought the orange would come through with more zest, but it is a perfectly balanced blend of goodness.
I wanted to start you off with something so good, you can’t but help notice its advantage over other rums. It is no wonder that it won the best rum award from the World Rum Awards in 2017.
And that's the drammed truth.