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All About Rum

The romance, the danger, the inhumanness, the flavour.. The excellent, the terrible and the hideous. Such is the history of this drink. No drink has the privilege of having such a rich past as rum. It is also the favourite drink of “The pirates of the Caribbean” (yes the right original pirates!).

Rum is a distilled spirit derived from a sugarcane by-product called molasses. Molasses is a thick brown sugary syrup that is prepared by pressing the juice of the sugarcane and then boiling it down to a thick concentration. This is then distilled at no more than 190 proof to give a clear white spirit called rum.

Bacardi is the best example of white rum. White rum is ready to be bottled and doesn’t need any maturing. But, some manufacturers do mature it for a period of 6 months or so, but never for more than a year. This young, youthful drink is a fantastic companion to most mixers and hence, finds its place in many cocktails. Rum is often loved with coke. White rum (Bacardi in particular) when topped with coke and ice and garnished with a lime slice is known as Cuba libre. Next time you are at a bar, question for a Cuba libre instead of a Bacardi with coke and make some heads turn. :)

Rum can also be dark. Dark rum is a rich full bodied flavourful drink. The flavour is due to two factors. Firstly, Dark rum is matured in casks for a period ranging from 2 years to 12 years. Some premium dark rums are aged beyond this too. This causes the spirit to buy a golden hue. Secondly, the addition of caramel into the spirit, causes it to have a dark deep tone. Caramel can be added, since rum is a sugar based spirit and hence, caramel does not interfere with the natural taste of rum. The most commonly drunk dark rum in the States is Captain Morgan.

Coming back to some rum trivia. Sugarcane was a vital commodity in the British empire. Its growth was confined to India first, but then cuttings of it were taken to America and grown there. Sugarcane was converted into molasses here and then sent to the Caribbean Islands for distillation into rum. But below the surface, this trade also encouraged one of the worse slave trades of the century. Molasses was sold in the Caribbean in exchange for slaves who were taken to America, where they were employed to cultivate sugarcane, which was again sent to the Caribbean to start the process once again.

The derivation of the word rum, is another hotly debated topic. Some feel that it comes from the botanical name of sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum. Others credit the English for it. In 1745 Admiral Vernon’s men had contracted scurvy. In an attempt, to try something different, the Admiral cut the daily ration of beer and replaced it by an obscure Caribbean drink. This conquered the disease and his men were extremely delighted with their captain. They started to call him by an English slang “Ancient Rummy”, which roughly translated into fantastic guy or jolly excellent fellow. And hence, the name Rum fell upon the drink as well. Fantastic tale isn’t it?

As far as the consumer trend of rum goes, white rum certainly sells more, due to the inclination of the youth towards clear spirits. Dark rum is more loved by the elderly and the armed forces around the world. There is another reason why dark rum is loved by above people, for it provides fantastic amount of calories and also helps keep warm. Captain Morgan is the leading dark rum brand in the United States.

Bacardi is certainly the market leader when it comes to white rum. It has also launched premixes sold under the Breezer brand. Bacardi Breezers are low in alcohol content and come in a variety of flavours to woo first time drinkers and appeal to the feminine market. Orange, Lime, Melon, Blueberry and Wildberry are some of the flavours that they offer. They come in different colours to fit in with the “cocktail culture”.

Note: The author is not affiliated to any of the brands mentioned in the article in anyway. The trademarks are the registered properties of their respective owners.

This article is written by Gautamm Mehra, a certified bartender and enthusiast. You can write to him at gautam [dot] mail [at] gmail [dot] com.

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