View Full Version : dry vs sweet
01-12-2008, 01:49 PM
until perusing this forum i always thought of rum as just plain sweet. it is made from sugar cane after all. but i do understand the technical definition that distilling to the point of leaving little to no residual sugar could create a "dry" rum.
so what are examples of dry rums?
for me to learn to differentiate between a dry and a sweet rum, what are pairings i should compare and contrast?
01-12-2008, 05:27 PM
I'll take a crack at this, but not because I'm expert, just to see how the forum feels about my taste development. I feel like most of my rums have a sweet component somewhere, either directly and up front, like PyratXO or Zacapa, or as a function of the aftertaste, or in the background. Dryness in rum, it seems to me, is a relative rating rather than an absolute one.
On my shelf which is comprised mostly of darker rums, save for a bottle of 10 Cane, I'd rate Cockspur 12 and Mount Gay Old (which I prefer by far) on the dryer side. In a similar vein to the Mount Gay is Barbancourt 15. In the middle are Matusalem GR, Angostura 1824 (which is harder for me to classify, as it has several tastes and moods) or perhaps Appleton Extra. Towards the sweeter end of what I'll call the normal range are Barrilito and Pampero. Winning the sugar wars, Zacapa 23 and Pyrat XO hold the extremes on my modest shelf. Some of my rum, say Pussers, have other contributing tastes that hit me first before I even get to "sweet or dry." Overall, I'm content at this point if I can just decide "I like" or "I like less." I have to agree with you overall; rums I've tried and liked are sweet, or have a degree of sweetness somewhere, so I think dry is usually a relative term in this context, but others and wiser are sure to weigh in, eh?
01-12-2008, 09:27 PM
In most rums there is at least a hint at sweetness, even in the dryer versions. Some age rhum agricoles would be considered dry, in comparison to sweeter rums. St. James, Neisson, Clement. Some of the Plantation rums are a tad dryer. Some of the rums that are blended in the UK and Scotland are said to be dry, based on what I have read. I myself have a taste for dryer rums, and enjoy them immensly.
01-13-2008, 05:29 PM
thanks for the responses. i did learn a lot from last nights tasting about sweet vs. dry, in part because the question was in my mind already. the pyrat was very sweet, the tricentennial fairly dry. so there was a pairing that made it more self evident. it will keep an eye out for the dryer rums you both mentioned. And as I continue to develop my rum palate i will keep paying attention to that aspect of the flavor profile. sadly most of my tastings will be less extravagant than that was.
01-13-2008, 05:59 PM
The common misconception that rum is sweet, is just that, a misconception. I'm not sure where that came from other than the fact that most of the darkest rums like Myers's, Coruba, etc are colored with caramel and do have a slightly sweet conponent. Then there are rums mentioned above which are quite sweet.
There seems to be a trend toward sweeter rums, among the general consensus of those who've chimed in on this forum, Ron Zacapa Centenario is getting sweeter than it was say 4 years ago. Other rums like Pyrat have always had a sweet component. But Newton told us that for every action that is an equal and opposite reaction, which in this case is manifest by the growing popularity of the drier rhum agricole from the French islands. These are distilled to a lower proof, have a broader flavor profile and while they aren't for everyone they are drier than many of the other rums on the shelf.
Our perception of dry versus sweet is a function of congeners, things other than alcohol and water, in the spirit. I find El Dorado Special Reserve, for example, to be a good example of how a rum can be very complex and dry at the same time without being sweet. Demerara Distillers doesn't add any sweetening agents to this rum. Appleton VX is another example.
Right out of the still rum, like all distilled spirits, is a clear spirit that contains on sugar. All distilled spirits are made from various forms of sugar but in every case the distiller converts as much of that sugar as possible to alcohol during the fermentation process. In the distillation process, alcohol, which is more volatile than water and most of the other compounds in the fermented wash, is evaporated as a function of temperature and then condensed and collected. Depending on the raw material, this condensate is called rum, whisky or other lesser spirits.
On the far end of the spectrum, nearly every flavored rum has added cane sugar. Sugar will take the rough edges off a younger spirit. Foursquare Spiced Rum is one of the few spiced rums which doesn't contain sugar and is called a dry-spiced rum in the islands.
01-13-2008, 10:46 PM
I am glad Ed explained this so well. A few years ago, before I began learning about rum in depth, I was just a consumer. I knew that the sweetness in many rums was not from sugar, except in certain cases. I did think at one time rum had to have some sweetness, just because it was derived from sugar cane and mloasses. After learning a little about distillation, I found I was wrong in my assumption. Most times the "sweet' that we taste is not from added sugar, as Ed has said. Even in tasting cigars, there can be sweet notes, that does not have anything to do with sugar. What I love about rum is the variations in flavor across the large spectrum of choices. No other spirit gives us so much to choose from. Dry....to sweeter......or somewhere in between!
01-13-2008, 11:17 PM
I am glad Ed explained this so well.
Me too! So, do I have a sweet tooth, Ed? It's hardly a surprise!
01-14-2008, 12:28 AM
Without any reflection on your palate, I find a lot of people who drink rum expand the choices and find after time that they want to add some drier as opposed to sweeter rums to their locker.
I've also read that our palates change as we get older. That's one thing we all share.
01-14-2008, 01:02 AM
A persons palate starts off as very sweet and continues to narrow down into dryness as we age. This is why children lobe chocolate, candy, milkshakes; and adults tend to like coffee, alcohol, and more bitter dishes.
I remember all the foods I didnt like as a child; sour cream, mushrooms, asparagus... Now, there are a lot of foods that are too sweet or rich for me. Eventually... who knows?
As for my rum preference, I lean strongly to sweet rums. Im trying to teach my palate to enjoy dryer rums. Im coming around to agricole rhums and other dryer rums like many of the Plantations and older Mt Gays.
Also, Ed, would you say Montecristo Spiced is in the same boat as the Foursquare, being a non-sweet spiced rum?
01-15-2008, 09:41 PM
My palate has always been a bit schizophrenic. I love sweet desserts, candy, sauces, and salad dressings. But I cannot stand sweet wines, and I prefer only the driest varietals.
Rum is the one thing I enjoy both ways.
It seems to me that sweetness in rum can be a mask, that makes less flavorful or unbalanced rums more palatable to the masses. Dry rum must be more spot on in terms of flavor, balance, and smoothness, in order to be successful. Appleton VX is an excellent example of a moderately priced dry rum that gets it right.
vBulletin® v3.8.6, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.