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Old 01-30-2009, 09:18 PM   #1
M.R.J.
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Default Is your favorite rum real pure rum, or a fruit-induced, rum-based spirit?

For years and years there has been every now & then some insinuations and rumours posted here & there that have suggested that some of the aged premium rums are actually not getting their flavours naturally in the way manufacturers describe, but instead the manufacturers lace the new make (spirit) with any number of spices, fruits, nuts, honey or such for a while, and then (recask I guess?) go on aging the spirit, eventually bottling it as a Premium Aged Rum - with no mention of the "funny business" done there in between.

My personal viewpoint would be that this type of "spiced up" product is a liquour or spiced rum. It should openly give information about the process used, ingredients used, and under no circumstances be sold as "pure aged rum". Lets think about any potential nuts-allergic person drinking it without a clue of the dangers..Heavens, someone could get seriously ill.

If I am paying a premium price for a "noble" spirit under the presumption that it is a pure product derived from sugar cane / molasses alone, I definitely want to know that its taste and flavour is not the result of added flavourings. Liqueur and spiced rums are considerably cheaper..aged or not.

To put it simply, one does not sell flavoured Whisky as Whisky, Bourbon as Bourbon, Cognac as cognac, Armagnac as Armagnac. And one should not sell flavoured rum to consumers as pure aged rum. There should be no buts or ifs about that if you ask me. If this kind of laced-up product is sold, the distiller should openly admit that their product is done in this way and not keep it a big secret and pass the product as anything else.

I would therefore urge anyone who deals with rum producers to ask them this one simple question: Are your aged rums sold getting all their taste simply from the distilled rum spirit, the casks used and the aging - or do you add fruits or other things to the rum/spirit at any point after distillation (even if added before to the fermenting for example, this should definitely be mentioned).

One source suggested that in Venezuela, the law actually allows fruit such as oranges to be used to flavor rum: Makes me wonder how many of the Venezuelan rums that are marketed as just "aged rum" (as opposed to spiced rum) are actually getting their taste from added flavouring of fruits - and should be called & marketed as spiced rums, not as pure aged rum. Also a person mentioned elsewhere that Ron Barrilito's aged products from Puerto Rico are actually spiced rums due to the process which puts fruits and nuts into the spirit during aging in order to get taste in the spirit.

Santa Teresa?
Diplomatico?
Pampero?
Ron Cacique?

The interesting this is, none of the manufacturers speak of this practice on their pages - they are dead keen on keeping this a secret it seems. That alone speaks miles.

As an example of an honest approach in this game I would present to you the Greek brandy Metaxa: They do not try to pass their product as a "pure" brandy, but openly advertise and admit that their's is a flavoured product with herbals.

Rum is gaining on popularity and is / should be by all means right up there with the other "noble" spirits, but the common denominator to all these spirits is that there are strict rules about how they are made, and no true flavouring (caramel colouring is allowed but must be mentioned at least in most European countries, and of course the wood of the cask can impart flavour to the spirit also) is added to them at least after the distillation process; the spirit is left to age pure in casks, and this alone should result in a wonderful taste and flavour - end of story.

If rum is to be taken as an equal and serious player in the field of fine spirits, then it is high time to clear up any suspicions or misunderstandings about what makes the spirit taste as it does.

I hope the distillers come clean on this because its this kind of stuff and rumours floating around that will jeopardize the whole rum business. After the information on Venezuelan law, I at last am very suspicious about rums coming from that country..same goes for Puerto Rico. Problem is, these are still rumours - not proof. Those people who visit the distilleries and get to see what goes on there, how about some public laundry washing and facts? It would be a refreshing change to the "what goes on behind closed doors in secrecy" attitudes.

Most of all I would call out the distillers to come out and "fess up" if there's something to confess. If nothing else, chemical analysis of your spirits may tell us the truth eventually anyways..

Last edited by M.R.J.; 01-30-2009 at 09:21 PM. Reason: fixed typos
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:31 PM   #2
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I saw you mention this in another thread and would agree that some transparency would be nice, but unfortunately most rum is not as tightly controlled as something like Scotch would be. Things like the AOC and others are steps in the right direction, but we'll see how things go from here. A lot of people here were/are suspicious about Pyrat in particular.

Besides just waiting and hoping, is there any way we as consumers can check up on this? Any chemists around here? Can you even test for stuff like that? It sounds expensive if possible.
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Old 01-31-2009, 01:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M.R.J. View Post
For years and years there has been every now & then some insinuations and rumours posted here & there that have suggested that some of the aged premium rums are actually not getting their flavours naturally in the way manufacturers describe, but instead the manufacturers lace the new make (spirit) with any number of spices, fruits, nuts, honey or such for a while, and then (recask I guess?) go on aging the spirit, eventually bottling it as a Premium Aged Rum - with no mention of the "funny business" done there in between.

My personal viewpoint would be that this type of "spiced up" product is a liquour or spiced rum. It should openly give information about the process used, ingredients used, and under no circumstances be sold as "pure aged rum". Lets think about any potential nuts-allergic person drinking it without a clue of the dangers..Heavens, someone could get seriously ill.

If I am paying a premium price for a "noble" spirit under the presumption that it is a pure product derived from sugar cane / molasses alone, I definitely want to know that its taste and flavour is not the result of added flavourings. Liqueur and spiced rums are considerably cheaper..aged or not.

To put it simply, one does not sell flavoured Whisky as Whisky, Bourbon as Bourbon, Cognac as cognac, Armagnac as Armagnac. And one should not sell flavoured rum to consumers as pure aged rum. There should be no buts or ifs about that if you ask me. If this kind of laced-up product is sold, the distiller should openly admit that their product is done in this way and not keep it a big secret and pass the product as anything else.

I would therefore urge anyone who deals with rum producers to ask them this one simple question: Are your aged rums sold getting all their taste simply from the distilled rum spirit, the casks used and the aging - or do you add fruits or other things to the rum/spirit at any point after distillation (even if added before to the fermenting for example, this should definitely be mentioned).

One source suggested that in Venezuela, the law actually allows fruit such as oranges to be used to flavor rum: Makes me wonder how many of the Venezuelan rums that are marketed as just "aged rum" (as opposed to spiced rum) are actually getting their taste from added flavouring of fruits - and should be called & marketed as spiced rums, not as pure aged rum. Also a person mentioned elsewhere that Ron Barrilito's aged products from Puerto Rico are actually spiced rums due to the process which puts fruits and nuts into the spirit during aging in order to get taste in the spirit.

Santa Teresa?
Diplomatico?
Pampero?
Ron Cacique?

The interesting this is, none of the manufacturers speak of this practice on their pages - they are dead keen on keeping this a secret it seems. That alone speaks miles.

As an example of an honest approach in this game I would present to you the Greek brandy Metaxa: They do not try to pass their product as a "pure" brandy, but openly advertise and admit that their's is a flavoured product with herbals.

Rum is gaining on popularity and is / should be by all means right up there with the other "noble" spirits, but the common denominator to all these spirits is that there are strict rules about how they are made, and no true flavouring (caramel colouring is allowed but must be mentioned at least in most European countries, and of course the wood of the cask can impart flavour to the spirit also) is added to them at least after the distillation process; the spirit is left to age pure in casks, and this alone should result in a wonderful taste and flavour - end of story.

If rum is to be taken as an equal and serious player in the field of fine spirits, then it is high time to clear up any suspicions or misunderstandings about what makes the spirit taste as it does.

I hope the distillers come clean on this because its this kind of stuff and rumours floating around that will jeopardize the whole rum business. After the information on Venezuelan law, I at last am very suspicious about rums coming from that country..same goes for Puerto Rico. Problem is, these are still rumours - not proof. Those people who visit the distilleries and get to see what goes on there, how about some public laundry washing and facts? It would be a refreshing change to the "what goes on behind closed doors in secrecy" attitudes.

Most of all I would call out the distillers to come out and "fess up" if there's something to confess. If nothing else, chemical analysis of your spirits may tell us the truth eventually anyways..
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:09 AM   #4
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A great detective like you should not be wasting your time on rum. Find out how they make sausage in Moscow, then get back to us with your findings. Force them to confess for their own good -- so we can all sleep better at night.
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:39 AM   #5
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I feel MRJ is making a valid point. I would not want to pay a premium price for a product that merely claims to be one but infact is not. I'm not paying the price of a Porsche if the car has a tractors engine under its hood but I might be willing to pay a lower price.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:38 AM   #6
M.R.J.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbon View Post

Besides just waiting and hoping, is there any way we as consumers can check up on this? Any chemists around here? Can you even test for stuff like that? It sounds expensive if possible.
All alcoholic beverages sold in any EU-country usually go through a chemical analysis anyways to ensure that the products are safe for the consumers to drink, so this is a standard practice. I will try and consult some chemist in order to find out what exactly can they detect from the spirit. This would be a nifty detective's answer to the question, if an analysis could easily prove who's fixing their taste with additives.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertBurr View Post
A great detective like you should not be wasting your time on rum. Find out how they make sausage in Moscow, then get back to us with your findings. Force them to confess for their own good -- so we can all sleep better at night.
Dear Mr. Burr, I read your sarcastic remarks, thank you for the feedback which sadly added no value as such to this discussion. I am surprised and disappointed.

The Moscow remark must be related to my geographical physical location, yes? Sigh..Moscow sits in another country, Russia - not in Finland. The distance between my location and it is approximately 1000 kilometres - thats 600 miles, perhaps easier to comprehend for a US citizen. As I mentioned elsewhere, I live now in Finland but have also lived in Trinidad, Toronto, Vancouver, Madrid and London. (Seems like I must make excuses for my current location, albeit I fail to see how it has anything to do with my potential tasting ability, or knowledge of rums).

Russian sausages may be of whatever quality, but they are not sold as a Premium drink for exuberant prices to connoisseurs, and certainly they are consumed by far less people internationally than rum is. Again, this discussion is about RUM - I hope all could keep this in mind.

RUM is the "old new kid" in the world of Fine spirits. RUM wants to challenge the position of Cognac and Whisky as the favoured fine tipple of connoisseurs. Now at the same time, RUM is the only one where I see rules and control over manufacturing deeply lacking, and RUM is the only one where we even need to speak of such dubious, behind-closed doors practices as flavouring new make spirit to get taste into what I guess is otherwise too bland a spirit. RUM. This to me is something that the rum industry should either stop doing, come clean about, and change their ways and marketing.

It is a regrettable fact that NONE of the books I have read on rum speak of the practice of lacing new make spirit with apples and oranges so to speak. I find this not only disappointing, but also quite upsetting. Why omit this information so callously, to keep in good terms with the manufacturing crowd? This is "Finlandization" at its worst (Mr. Burr, pls check it out from a dictionary if the term is not familiar to you).

I would really like to publicly express my regret for the fact that my posts seem to annoy the living daylights of so many respected writers here. Gentlemen, please consider the real message in my posts: RUM will suffer from a bad reputation, and rum business will never find its way out of the woods to the connoisseurs with its head hidden in a bush and with use of deviant practices.

Now I sincerely hope to see truly contributional posts here, with discussion versing a little further into the topic than sly remarks about my physical location please...
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumdog007 View Post
Are you having a bad day?
Thanks for asking rumdog007 - no, its a bright and sunny beautiful day here in the extreme North, how about there in Cali?

I might just taste this afternoon a fine whisky, Bowmore Maltmen's Selection..2 sherry casks selected & bottled at full cask strength and released as a limited edition, priced at Ј120 a bottle.

This 13yo whisky has as far as I know no added colour, no other additives - simple magic that is the quality of the new make spirit, the influence of the cask's wood and air over a period of time as the whisky aged in the cask has made this close to perfection.

Didn't need apples, oranges, chocolate, spices, nuts or honey or any such thing to make it palatable. No additives, no nonsense - a pure spirit that tastes excellent. Just the way I like it! :-)
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M.R.J. View Post
Dear Mr. Burr, I read your sarcastic remarks, thank you for the feedback which sadly added no value as such to this discussion. I am surprised and disappointed.

The Moscow remark must be related to my geographical physical location, yes? Sigh..Moscow sits in another country, Russia - not in Finland. The distance between my location and it is approximately 1000 kilometres - thats 600 miles, perhaps easier to comprehend for a US citizen. As I mentioned elsewhere, I live now in Finland but have also lived in Trinidad, Toronto, Vancouver, Madrid and London. (Seems like I must make excuses for my current location, albeit I fail to see how it has anything to do with my potential tasting ability, or knowledge of rums).
Oh, good grief.

Last edited by RC; 01-31-2009 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by M.R.J. View Post
Didn't need apples, oranges, chocolate, spices, nuts or honey or any such thing to make it palatable. No additives, no nonsense - a pure spirit that tastes excellent. Just the way I like it! :-)
Hi M.R.J. Most companies will carefully guard as trade secrets what they might add to their rum, but I have found that if you ask, most will tell you if there are additions or infusions. Barrilitos, for example, is very straightforward about adding botanicals.

If you are interested in knowing about a particular spirit, you may want to contact the producer. Thus far, it has been my experience that people have been open and forthcoming with information about how their rums are produced, and they have even been surprised that someone was interested enough to inquire. If you want to drink rum with nothing in the bottle other than cane, if you do some research, you should be able to narrow the field and find some wonderful rums to try. The members here may be able to help as well. If at any time you feel that a producer is not being forthcoming, by all means, leave their product on the shelf.

For me, it is the surprise and mystery of rum that I love, and trying to figure out why one bottle is different from the next is part of the journey of experiencing rum. Yes, rum is different from other spirits in so many ways, but for many of us, that is exactly the point. Your journey with rum may lead you to the discovery that you want to drink other spirits exclusively, but I hope that you will enjoy the journey nonetheless.
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