By Jenner Cormier
Photos By Scotty Sherin
Rum is an incredibly versatile spirit produced in many different ways, giving rise to beautifully unique flavours and strengths. Rum production revolves around stylistic traditions that vary between origin and the distillers instead of production methods, common in other spirit categories. Not to downplay or overlook the incredible uniqueness that exists between styles and origins of rum, but we will try to look at them in broad categorizations by language and country to help streamline stylistic differences without diving too far into distillation and aging methods.
Sugar trade was in full swing between the Caribbean, Europe and Africa in the late 1500s. High sugar production meant there was an excess of molasses. Molasses or cane juice, which is the by-product of sugarcane, were left to ferment with natural airborne yeasts and then distilled to purify the alcohol. Rum was offered at a discount to British naval vessels, to keep them around longer which in turn would ward off pirates. Rum spread through most of North America and Europe with the aid of these naval ships through the late 1600s.
While rum’s popularity eventually waned throughout much of North America due to the American Revolution (which disrupted sugar trade from the Caribbean), this led to the development of whisky (whiskey) culture. Although whisky took over from rum in North America, the spirit continued to be popular in warmer climates. With the introduction of commercial airlines, the rest of the world could travel to these destinations, returning with rum, recipes and wonderful stories of their adventures abroad.
Rum’s Family Tree
English or Naval (Jamaica/Guyana)
Character: Robust with stewed fruit flavours and a boldness acquired from pot distillation. These are amongst the richest, most aromatic styles and are highly sought after for their quality, dark, heavy and potent character. Jamaica and Guyana are the two countries that typically define the category. While not all rums produced in these two countries are true to style, there are a few that continue to be great representations of the category.
Mix: Choose ingredients to cut the funky, big personalities of this rum. Try mixing them with ginger beer, sarsaparilla, lime, vanilla, coffee liqueur, heavier amari, fresh pineapple or coconut cream.
American or Colonial (United States or North American)
These spirits are reminiscent of rum made in early America. They are heavily influenced by the distillation methods of settlers who would have had experience distilling brandy.
Mix: Mix these with pineapple, mango, orange, lime, lemon or fresh herbs.
Spanish (Outside of the Caribbean)
Spanish rums are typically very fruity with a brandy-like bouquet (influenced by Spanish settlers) and may offer raisin, currant, fig or field berry flavours. They are typically lighter in flavour and aroma than other rums and boast more delicate, crisp citrus character.
Mix: Try these mixed with a dry, nutty Sherry, Lillet Blanc, sparkling wine, orange, cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg.
Cuban or Puerto Rican (Spanish Style)
These are typically light, clean and crisp rums, only gaining flavour through very careful aging and calculated blending.
Mix: Try them with soda or tonic water, bright citrus fruits or along with fresh herbs such as mint, rosemary, tarragon or sage.
French (Martinique, West Indies, Haiti)
Unlike others made from molasses, these are typically made from sugarcane juice. They can be heavier, have more personality along with boasting the canes character, minerality, vegetal notes and a dry mouthfeel.
Mix: Try with smoky spirits (Mezcal, Scotch Whisky), vegetable juice (bell pepper, beet), grapefruit, lemon, lime or orange.
CLASSIC RUM COCKTAILS
- 1/2 fl oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum*
- 1/2 fl oz Lillet Blanc
- 1/2 fl oz Campari
Directions: In a mixing glass combine rum, Lillet and Campari. Fill mixing glass with ice and stir for 12-20 seconds or until you reach your desired dilution. Strain cocktail over ice or a large lump of ice. Garnish with a zest of grapefruit or a half wheel of grapefruit.
* Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum is an English-style rum made in Jamaica by Appleton Distillery.
Mount Gay Black Barrel Old Cuban
- 3/4 fl oz fresh lime juice
- 3/4 fl oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar and water)
- 3 hefty dashes Angostura bitters
- 6 mint leaves
- 1 fl oz Mount Gay Black Barrel*
- 1 1/2 fl oz dry sparkling wine
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin. Fill shaker tin with ice and shake hard for 8-12 seconds. Pour sparkling wine into a chilled stemmed glass. Double strain the cocktail over the sparkling wine. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
* Black Barrel is an English-style rum made in Barbados, English Style by Mount Gay which claims to be the “Oldest Rum Distillery, founded 1703.”
Captain Morgan 1671 Bamboo Cocktail 2.0
- 1/2 fl oz Amontillado sherry
- 1/2 fl oz dry vermouth
- 1/2 fl oz Captain Morgan 1671*
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Zest of lemon
Directions: In a mixing glass combine sherry, vermouth, rum and bitters. Fill mixing glass with ice and stir for 12-20 seconds or until you reach your desired dilution. Strain cocktail into a chilled stemmed glass. Garnish with a zest of lemon expressed over the surface of the drink.
* Captain Morgan 1671 is a Puerto Rican, Spanish style rum, made with St Croix rum then finished in Spanish oak.
- Plantation XO Amber, 750 ml, $69.99
- Captain Morgan 1671, 750 ml, $38.99
- Mount Gay Black Barrel, 750 ml, $39.99
- Brugal XV, 750 ml, $36.99
- Wray and Nephew Overproof White Rum, 750 ml, $38.99