View Single Post
Old 11-03-2007, 11:03 PM   #1
Edward Hamilton
Edward Hamilton's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Sailboat in the Caribbean and hotels.
Posts: 4,796
Default Once you open a bottle of rum, then what?

As soon as you expand your horizons you will be buying more rum than you consume in a few weeks. Conversely, when your rum collection is larger than your cumulative thirst of a few weeks you have expanded your horizons.

And in the process of discovering new rums you will come across a few bottles which you will want to savor over time as opposed to drinking it all in a few drinks. And your rum locker will invariably also become the custodian to a few bottles of rum that you don't want to drink but which you don't want to throw out, at least not yet, like that bottle with the best marketing story you've ever read even though you didn't believe a word of it. I have a few bottles, like El Dorado 25, that I don't want to drink every day, but I do want to keep some around - for a long time.

It's alright not to drink a bottle of rum as soon as you open it but if you're going to keep the bottle more than a few weeks you'll be rewarded for planning how you're going to preserve as much of the flavor as you can.

Depending on the closure on the bottle, you have a couple of options. Cork closures generally suck when used to contain distilled spirits. Unless you're living in the tropics, corks dry out and allow the oxidation process to accelerate. Which brings me to the second variable in the rum storage equation: oxidation. The alcohol in a distilled spirit combines with the oxygen in our atmosphere to oxidize the spirit. Oxidation is manifest in a diminishing of the body of a spirit like turning down the volume on the spirit body and finish. Alcohol is volatile and evaporates at room temperature and pressure. Every time the bottle is opened more alcohol is lost. I've found old bottles of rum that contained almost no alcohol because they had been poorly stored. The wine industry has begun to accept that screw top closures are better than natural cork, though synthetic corks are better than natural cork while the rum industry has taken to those less than technically adequate devices.

After I've consumed about half a bottle I put it on the drink special list especially if the bottle has been open for more than about 10 weeks. Mixing rum cocktails with rums that you wouldn't normally mix is a good way to learn that good cocktails are even better when made with the best rums. After a bottle has been open for about six months I start making an effort to consume the rest of the bottle with friends. To see just how much a bottle of rum deteriorates open a fresh bottle and sample next to the last dram in a bottle which has been open for a while and you'll better understand oxidation.

Most rums are best when consumed within about six month of opening the bottle. If the bottle has a cork closure the seal is generally comprised after a couple of months, a condition that deteriorates with time. Most rum bottles sealed with cork have an additional wax or plastic seal over the cork which protects the integrity of the cork until the bottle is opened.

I often pour rum into smaller bottles if I plan on drinking it over a few months or more, especially if the bottle is closed with a cork. I've tried storing rum bottles on their side, like you'd store wine, but more often than not the cork leaked once the bottle was open and the rum locker really began to smell like rum.

So drink up, store your rum in small, sealed bottles or invite your friends to help you drink it before it oxidizes. Lastly, I rarely order the last of a bottle on a bar, invariably I've been disappointed.
Edward Hamilton
Ambassador of Rum
Ministry of Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'm going to take it. In the meantime, the research continues.
Edward Hamilton is offline   Reply With Quote