Rum is one of the most versatile spirits, whether as the base in a cocktail or sipped straight. There is also a wide variety in how it is produced with countries or regions having their own traditions for the production. Some use column stills and some use pot stills along with a wide variety of wild and cultured yeasts. However the common factors is the sugar cane plant.
The high demand for sugar in the 17th century on lead to the establishment of hundreds of sugar cane plantations across the Caribbean providing refined sugar to Europe. To extract the sugar the plant is crushed and the juice collected. This is boiled which caused lumps of crystalline sugar to coalesce. Molasses is the the syrupy residue is left over after the sugar has been extracted and was initially thought of as waste and often just dumped at sea.
However sugar mill workers soon realised that when the molasses was mixed with water and left in the sun it would ferment. Molasses still contains a high amount of sugar which together with the wild yeast in the air and the hot humid weather provided perfect conditions for natural fermentation. From here it was only a short leap to distil it down into a spirit. What kind of yeast used and the distillation method use all effect the style of the final spirit and when aged in oak rum can take on a myriad of complex flavours and aromas.
I have picked out two rums from our Spirits of the Americas sale for you to try.
The first, Havana Club 3 Year Old, is the perfect base for any rum cocktail with clean, rounded flavours of citrus, vanilla and some spicier elements.
For a sipping rum I have chosen Zacapa. Unlike most rums this is made from the concentrated first press of sugar cane, known as virgin sugar cane honey. Blended from rums aged between 6 and 23 years. Rich and smooth with complex notes of sweet fruit, dark chocolate, raisins, vanilla, nutmeg and oak.