Get to Know Your Rum

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The basis of so many incredible cocktails, rum has a long history with links to pirates and brave naval warriors, making it one of the coolest spirits around! It was actually created in the middle ages by slaves working on plantations in the West Indies, who discovered that sugar by-products could be fermented and then distilled to give a sweet, alcoholic liquid. Not all rums are equal, however, and manufacturing has come a long way since then. So, which rum is right for you?!

White Rum

Clear in colour and mild in flavour, white rums make a great base for cocktails such as daiquiris, pina coladas and mojitos. White rums tend to be aged for around a year and are cheaper to produce than other varieties. Popular examples include Bacardi Superior and Mount Gay Silver.

Gold Rum

After being aged for a few years, rum turns a glorious honey colour, which then becomes known as gold rum. All rum is aged in barrels, which add flavour and depth to the liquid. Depending on the barrel used, gold rum may have notes of caramel, vanilla or coconut and it is this flavour that makes for its unique profile. Ideal for use in a Zombie or Mai Tai, popular brands include Abuelo and Appleton Special.

Dark Rum

The term 'dark rum' actually applies to all rums that are not white. So it covers a wide variety of liquids that have all been aged for long enough that they change colour.

Black Rum

Of course, the darker the rum, the longer it has been aged, and black rums have been afforded the longest time inside their barrels. These are the most flavoursome rums and tend to be enjoyed neat rather than in a cocktail due to their overpowering taste. The barrels are often fired to impart a smoky tone to the liquid. Look for Coruba or Cruzan Black Strap for some popular brands.

Named for its popularity in the Royal Navy who would provide a daily ration to its sailors prior to the 1600s, navy rum is actually a blend of rums from different British colonies. Enjoy Lamb’s Navy Rum or Pusser’s for great examples of this rich and interesting variety.

Aged Rum

As the name suggests, these rums have spent the longest in their barrels, making for a more expensive production as the cost of storage and inevitable evaporation adds up. These rums have the greatest depth of flavour and richness of colour and should be sipped for the ultimate pleasure! Gosling’s Family Reserve and Matusalem Gran Reserva are two wonderful examples.

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Made of Brazillian sugar cane, Cachaça spends very little time in barrels to ensure the purest version of this rum. It is mostly produced in stainless steel stills and is an excellent cocktail rum, used for the Caipirinha in particular. We love Cachaça 51 and Cuca Fresca.

Spiced Rum

These popular spirits are flavoured after ageing using a variety of spice seeds and roots to create a unique result. An interesting addition to cocktails, this is one best enjoyed with a straight mixer, to allow the different tastes to mingle and complement each other. Look for Captain Morgans and Sailor Jerry for your spiced rum hit!

There are lots of other rum examples, but these are some of the most well known. Since rum is one of the few spirits that doesn't need to be crafted in a certain place in the world, it is also one of the most diverse. To try every single version would certainly be a challenge, but it is one we gladly accept!

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Bartender's top tip

The way you pour ingredients can affect your cocktail's final taste. Pour slowly and steadily to ensure proper mixing. When layering cocktails, use the back of a spoon to gently add the next ingredient so they don’t mix prematurely. This technique is essential for creating visually stunning layers in drinks like the Pousse-Café.

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