Rum 101

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There are few alcohols that have the transformative power of rum.

FACT: There is even a National Rum Day, August 16

The multicoloured tapestry of rum styles spanning the Caribbean, Central and South America is as rich as the history and culture that encircles this great spirit.

Rum lovers around the world owe a great debt to a simple plant: sugar cane. Hundreds of years ago, there was a sugar craze in Europe, and colonies were established around the Caribbean to make the sweet commodity. But the production of sugar creates a lot of byproduct—namely, molasses. There wasn’t much use for the thick, sticky, sweet substance until it was discovered that molasses could be fermented and then distilled. The alcohol quickly became popular with pirates, sailors and America’s founders.

Rum also became a key element in the infamous “slavery triangle.” The Brits shipped molasses to New England, where it was transformed into rum, proceeds from the sales of which purchased slaves in West Africa, who were subsequently taken to the sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean and South America.

While the rules for rum production vary greatly from country to country, there are two main types: light and dark. The color of the spirit is primarily determined by the amount of time it has spent aging in oak barrels. The longer it’s been aged, the more color and flavor it picks up from the wood. Some experts say that the Caribbean’s high heat and humidity help speed up the alcohol’s maturation. No matter the color, most rum is still made from molasses, but some brands do use fresh sugar cane juice.

HOW TO DRINK RUM:

There are tons of ways to enjoy rum: light or dark; neat or mixed; at a crowded bar or kicking back at home. While rum can be sipped neat or on the rocks, many famous cocktails use the spirit as a base, including the Mojito, the Piña Colada, the Dark ‘n Stormy, the Daiquiri and the Mai Tai, not to mention the simple Rum and Coke.

DRINK RECIPES: Tiki Cocktail Recipes and Tropical Drink

RUM FACTS

Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels.

The majority of the world’s rum production occurs in the Caribbean and Latin America. Rum is also produced in Austria, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Philippines, India, Reunion Island,Mauritius, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, the United States, and Canada.

Rums are produced in various grades. Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas “golden” and “dark” rums were typically consumed straight or neat, on the rocks, or used for cooking, but are now commonly consumed with mixers. Premium rums are also available, made to be consumed either straight or iced.

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September 2, 2016 |

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