Daiquiri. Mojito. Pina Colada…
These are just a few classic rum cocktails that we all love to have on a Saturday night. With versatile flavour profiles ranging from grassy and fruity to Cinnamon and caramel, rum is quite refreshing and warming, whether drunk neat or in cocktails. But what is rum? How is it made? Where did it come from and what types of rum are made today? On National Rum Day, let’s break down this classic spirit.
To understand it in simpler terms, rum is a liquor distilled from sugar. More specifically, from sugarcane — either pure sugarcane, syrup, molasses, or black treacle.
How is rum made?
It’s then fermented, distilled, and aged in oak barrels. “Other ingredients are sometimes added to create a wider variety of flavours, including caramelized sugar, fruit extracts, and spices. With modern, mass-produced rums, makers blend different ages of rum to create a more consistent flavour, and caramel may be added at the end to create a uniform colour from batch to batch,” Rahul Gagerna, Founder and Managing Director at Boutique Spirit Brands tells us.
Dushyant Tanwar – Head Mixologist Of Monika Alcobev adds, “Depending on the place it is made, what kind of sugar cane product is used as raw material and the process employed for the aging of the rum, the spirit will show off different kinds of flavour notes.”
Rum is produced in nearly every sugar-producing region of the world, such as the Philippines, where Tanduay is the largest producer of rum globally.
Types of rum:
Latesh Kotian, Head Mixologist, Silly explains:
- WHITE RUM: White rum is clear, and usually has a milder flavour and lighter body than gold or dark rums. These light types of rum are most often used to create cocktails that do not have a need for bold rum flavour.
- GOLD RUM OR PALE RUM: Subtle flavours of vanilla, almond, citrus, caramel or coconut may be present from the type of barrels used in the aging process.
- DARK RUM: When used in cocktail recipes, the robust rums offer a contrast of more flavourful profiles compared to white rums, overproof rums, flavoured and spiced rums.
- SPICED RUM / FLAVORED RUM: The fruity flavours are the most dominant taste, like coconut, citrus, mango, and orange. On the other hand, spiced rum is simply a white rum with added Caribbean spices. It has tasting notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper.
What are the notes?
PROFILE – Smooth & soft with subtle fruity and wood notes
ON THE NOSE – Bright citrus & floral overtones, vanilla, subtle oak, nutmeg
MOUTH – Buttery caramel, toasted caramel and marzipan
AFTERTASTE – Long and warm, buttery
Is rum really a winter drink?
Gagerna says, “Contrary to the adage, rum is not a winter drink. It is only in northern and western India that it is consumed during winters whereas in the eastern and southern regions it is consumed all 12 months. So, we can’t categorise rum as a winter drink.”
Tanwar adds, “Look at the places famous for rum — they are hot and humid areas. And rum is also a lovely spirit for all round the year. The myth that it is a winter drink, that maybe draws influence from the fact that our soldiers have rum sitting on mountain peaks.”
Best ways to have rum?
Rum in itself is a complete drink; it is best consumed neat. But if that’s too much for you, then add water – warm or cold based on your liking and that will give you the best flavours.
White and Gold rums are great mixers and can be added with an array of ingredients. Dark rums are more suited for spirit-forward cocktails and premium-aged rums are best enjoyed neat to fully mask yourself in the flavours that they bring to your glass.
The deal breakers for rum lovers?
A cloudy or overtly bitter rum can spoil your rum experience. It should have the right smoothness and should be fermented to perfection.
(DISCLAIMER: Alcohol consumption is injurious to health. The article is for information purposes only.)