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Old 04-21-2017, 03:19 PM   #1
gdsmit1
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Default What to expect from different rum

As I've explained in my intro post, I'm new to rum and trying to find what the world of rum has to offer. I'm doing a lot of review reading. I have come across a lot of people saying things like "a fine example of Bajan rum" or recipes that specify to use Jamaican rum, or rum from Martinique.

Statements like this tell me that I should be able to expect certain traits to carry over between different distilleries within the same region. Can someone explain to me what I should expect from the various regions that produce rum?

I also see mention of pot still vs. column still. So apparently each type of still must impart a certain character to the rum.
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Old 04-22-2017, 12:02 AM   #2
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In regards to stills, pot stills generally allow more congeners to pass through the still while column stills generally produce distillate that contains fewer congeners. But like so many things this is a generality, not absolute.
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Old 04-22-2017, 03:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
In regards to stills, pot stills generally allow more congeners to pass through the still while column stills generally produce distillate that contains fewer congeners. But like so many things this is a generality, not absolute.
Uh...what's a congener?
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Old 04-27-2017, 01:18 PM   #4
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It's stuff other than the ethanol that the distiller is trying to get.
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Old 05-02-2017, 04:27 AM   #5
Ruminsky Van Drunkenberg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gdsmit1 View Post
As I've explained in my intro post, I'm new to rum and trying to find what the world of rum has to offer. I'm doing a lot of review reading. I have come across a lot of people saying things like "a fine example of Bajan rum" or recipes that specify to use Jamaican rum, or rum from Martinique.

Statements like this tell me that I should be able to expect certain traits to carry over between different distilleries within the same region. Can someone explain to me what I should expect from the various regions that produce rum?

I also see mention of pot still vs. column still. So apparently each type of still must impart a certain character to the rum.
Most bloggers (especially the longer running ones), have an essay or two regarding styles, classes and general notes. Here are a few
http://thefatrumpirate.com/rum-styles
https://inuakena.com/rum-101/
http://thelonecaner.com/thoughts-essays/

Keep in mind that the following are the determinants of taste no matter where a rum comes from, and all work together to produce the final product:

1. Origin - sugar cane juice, rendered juice ("honey") or molasses. Waste no time on any spirit claiming to be a rum which is made from beets, rice, potatos or maple syrup.

2. Fermentation - yeast type, duration. The Jamaican dunder pits are famous for adding that "funk" to the profile.

3. The distillation apparatus - pot still versus column still makes for a huge difference in taste, and here DDL in Guyana comes in for special mention since they have their famed wooden stills which impart deeper, woodier, licorice notes to many of their rums. Even the material - copper versus stainless steel - can impart subtleties.

4. Ageing - how long. You will never mistake an unaged white rum for an aged 21 year old. Be very careful with rums that purport to be "12" (for example) without qualifying the number. A "Solera 12" is not 12 years old. The Zaya 12 used to be 12 years old but now is a blend of 12 rums, and there are similar issues with Nicaraguan Flor de Cana numbers.

5. Barrel strategy: what kind of barrels, whether charred or not, whether those barrels are first use or "dead," what those barrels once contained (bourbon whisky is the most common, as well as cognac or sherry) and how much remains. Most use American or French oak, but the Brazlians with their aged cachacas use local woods which make them very unusual.

6. Filtration prior to bottling. Purists disdain the practice, as certain flavour elements get filtered out, which is why many white rums (Bacardi e.g.) taste so bland.

7. Many give this short shrift beyond the obvious, but I am of the firm opinion that terroire (the region of production) is a huge influence - a rum from Guyana, Jamaica, Japan, Madgascar, Haiti, Martinique, Reunion, Cuba, Indonesia, or India can, with some experience, be identified by small peculiarities of taste that are more than just barrels, ageing, distillation or source.

8. Additives. A hugely controversial topic. Many don't mind sweet or flavoured rums and some hate the practice, but all agree that there should be more disclosure. Most common is sugar to smoothen out bite (as well as glycerol) and to make a young rum seem better. Diplomatico, Zacapa, Plantation, DDL and many others are culprits, though of course this hasn't stopped them from selling briskly. There also spiced rums and flavoured variations which are usually labelled as such.

A few other points:

1. No, it's not a given that certain traits carry over between different distilleries within the same region. Hampden in Jamaica tastes very different from Appleton, Banks DIH XM rums from Guyana are not the same as DDL's, and Caronis from Trinidad are utterly distinct from Angostura. And that's not even discussing the French Islands like Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe or Haiti.

2. For a summary of online resources, Josh Miller's "plugged" essay is worth reading
https://inuakena.com/misc/plugging-into-the-rum-world/


Hope this helps.
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Last edited by Ruminsky Van Drunkenberg; 05-02-2017 at 07:43 AM.
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