The Essential Rum Types You Need to Kickstart Your Home Bar
Rum is one of most diverse spirits in the world.
It is produced in at least sixty different countries, and can be made from various raw materials (sugarcane, or sugarcane byproducts); it can be distilled in different types of stills (pot and column); and it can be aged in a variety of woods at different temperatures depending on where it’s made.
In addition to all of these factors, the rules and regulations for rum production are relatively lax when compared to the whiskey industry, which means that rum flavors, and quality, can vary significantly and one isn’t always easy to substitute for another.
Ten to fifteen years ago, rum was a fraction of the category that it is today; now there are so many styles to choose from that it can be overwhelming. A bottle of a funky, high-ester Jamaican rum tastes completely different from a Spanish-style column distilled rum which contains just a sliver of the flavor that Jamaican rum boasts. The marketplace is also filled with many artificially flavored, and overly sweetened, “rum liqueurs,” which makes sourcing a properly made rum tricky. If you’ve never favored rum, it’s likely because your first introduction to the category was tainted by one of not so solid. It’s time you give it another chance.
As rum continues to gain its strides, producers are becoming more transparent due to consumer demand, and it has helped separate quality rums from liquid worth pouring down the drain. To help distill the category down in a way that’s more digestible, we have separated the essential rums for kickstarting your home bar into three types that can be used to make the majority of rum cocktails that exist.
Blended Lightly Aged Rum
This category is essentially your Daiquiri, and Mojito, rum: simple, clean, has character and depth from being rested in the barrel, and is very cocktail friendly. Many lightly aged rums are charcoal filtered to remove any color it received from the aging process, thus making it “white.” These rums are typically aged between 1 to 4 years (3 years is the average), and are very budget friendly.
Bottles worth considering are: Plantation 3 Stars, Denizen white rum, Real McCoy 3 year, or Diplomatico Planas.
Blended Aged Rum
Blended aged rums will have a closer resemblance to a whiskey. They are typically aged between 5 to 14 years, and will express more of the wood character because of it. Aged rums are perfect for mixing in stirred cocktails, such as the Old-Fashioned, or Negroni, and they are also fit for sipping neat. While they are typically a bit more expensive than the lightly aged category, they won’t break the bank.
Bottles worth considering are: Appleton Estate 12 year old, Denizen Merchant’s Reserve, Doorly’s 12 year, Bacardi 8 year, or Real McCoy 12 year, Plantation 5 year.
Black Blended Overproof Rum
If you are a lover of tiki cocktails, then a quality overproof rum is essential. Lemon Hart 151 is the overproof demerara rum that has been specifically called for in many tiki cocktails historically, most notably in the Zombie. These rums have to be at least 57% alcohol, and are often used in smaller quantities to add depth of flavor, and increase the cocktail’s ABV. While some are worth sipping, its most common application is in tiki style drinks.