Monday, October 22, 2012

An Exposé on Rum

Rum, that delicious distilled liquid cherished by pirates, sailors, and cigar enthusiasts around the world. This is going to be a brief discussion about that oh so fine spirit that so many of us enjoy, but I'm not going to discuss the cheaper rums like Bacardi and Captain Morgan; they are great for mixing drinks and getting wasted at a frat party, but I'd much rather discuss the sipping rums; such as a fine bottle of Ron Zacapa 23 Year Old Centenario or Santa Teresa 1796. This is a discussion on the good rums, the rums you place up in a locked shelf away from the everyday guest; reserving it only for those wonderful special occasions.

Yes, rum can be enjoyed much like a fine cognac or bourbon. It has flavors, notes, and a good rum will almost tell a story with the hints of flavor and spices. Take a fine bottle of Ron Zacapa Centenario, which is a delicious Solera-style rum from Guatemala. We will get into what exactly Solera-style is later, but for now, let's discuss the story of flavor.

For me, I like my Centenario served in a brandy snifter so I can enjoy the full aroma of the rum. Take in the scent of vanilla and aged oak barrels. The sip itself becomes a story of sorts. Starting with an opening scene of sweet vanilla and dark hints of almonds. From here it moves into the middle, the climax of the story, which is brought on by a deep caramel flavor, touches of cocoa, and a lightly aged flavor of sweet fruits. The finale is the smooth and mellow texture, and the lingering sweet aroma of 23 year old aged rum that plays with your palate like a soft fall breeze, leaving you with a delicate and quite pleasant memory. This is the story of Ron Zacapa in a single sip.

Are all fine, top-shelf rums amber? By the gods no. There are some quite delicious dark and blanco (white) rums as well. Take Oronoco or Ron Anejo Pampero Aniversario for example. Oronoco is a delicious sweet rum distilled in Brazil by a cachaça plantation. It's very gentle, mellow, and comes with soft notes of sugary sweetness, tropical nuts, and a delicious vanilla aroma that settles nicely into your senses.

Pampero makes an exquisitely dark spiced rum that is great for a pleasantly aggressive take on the deliciousness of sipping rums. It comes with pungent notes of coffee and caramel, striking like a viper with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but leaving your palate with a smoothness and lingering darkness that is reminiscent of a delicious spiced rum. Its definitely a pleasant sipping rum, and the leather pouch it comes in makes a wonderful dice bag or coin purse if you are into re-purposing items. I still have the bag I got from a bottle almost 6 years ago, it has served me well in my many D&D campaigns.

The different types of rum are often distilled from different processes involving sugar cane. Some use molasses, which leads to a more caramelized rum with a darker color; while some use the sugary syrup which brings out a delicate sweetness with a lighter color. Both versions are great in my own personal point of view, but for me, my downright favorite has to be a Solera-style rum, such as Ron Zacapa or Santa Teresa. Solera simply means that the rum is aged in a very unique way. They age the rum in oak barrels, transferring the rum to different barrels every few years, while leaving a little behind in each barrel. This is done until the desired age of the rum is reached and it is finally bottled. In the case of Ron Zacapa, this gives you a bottle that is a perfect blend of rums between 6 and 23 years old, allowing for a vast, and quite pleasant array of flavors and scents. I would highly suggest giving one of the Solera-style rums a try next time you are looking for a delicious sipping liquor to enjoy with close friends or on a special occasion.

When most people talk of rum, they generally are talking about the lower-quality items like Bacardi or Captain Morgan, and have never experienced what a true rum is supposed to taste like. Just like a delicate French cognac, or a sweet Kentucky bourbon, rum has its top-shelf sipping side as well. Something that can be enjoyed on the patio during a chilly fall evening while watching the leaves fall. Letting the aroma and flavors of the delicious rum blend with the scents and scenery of the view. So, next time you are cruising the local liquor store for something new to try, I would highly suggest a visit to the selections of rums from around the globe. Find that dusty bottle on the top shelf with the cork and let yourself indulge in the pleasing flavor of one the world's oldest and most famous distilled spirits. And know this, when it comes to rum, you often do pay for quality.

Enjoy responsibly and ~Bon Appétit~

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