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Old 02-03-2008, 11:09 PM   #1
Capn Jimbo
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Capn Jimbo offered some of his bountiful words of wisdom on the origins of the rum industry in the Caribbean before liberating himself to do bigger and better things with his time.

Last edited by Capn Jimbo; 04-06-2008 at 05:06 AM.
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:18 AM   #2
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Nice job, Jimbo. Your works offer some starting place standards that might allow those trying to digest all the variations get a short handle on the universe of rums.

There is one standard rum you've overlooked, which to me, remains the base -- the most "rum-tasting" rum ever made.

In the modern history of rum, I see two distinctly dominant variations that are as close together as they are far apart.

In 1862, Don Facundo Bacardi Masso emigrated from Spain to Santiago, Cuba. He disliked the rich, flavorful rums he found there and worked to develop unique methods of distilling and filtering to produce light, neutral spirits in a consistent manner.

In 1862, just east of the Columbus Passage in Haiti, Mr Dupré Barbancourt refined his process for making rum in the double distillation method used for Cognac in his native France. His goal was to make a rich, flavored rum that would rival cognac in its complexity.

Both men cam to the Caribbean from Europe, tried to bring rum into a new era with higher standards using innovative ideas and new technology. Both succeeded. But they couldn't have had more divergent ideas on how to make rum.

Barbancourt's wife's family, the Gardere's continue to run the company. Since 1862, Barbancourt rhum has set the standard for "rum-flavored" rum. The Bacardi family is still involved in production and Bacardi remains a standard for light mixing rums that don't overpower the exotic flavors of popular cocktails.

I have always considered the Barbancourt rums to be the gold standard by which all other rich rums are judged.

Last edited by RobertBurr; 02-04-2008 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 02-04-2008, 01:47 AM   #3
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Nice treatise. I'll have to drink about it a little while to have a full response. I think I even have to do some shopping to really digest the full nature of your argument.

Within the areas I feel I can speak about my perspective differs slightly. Your first two standards are excellently chosen. But for me I start at the bottom and define from there. Mount Gay (eclipse) is where I begin to speak about rum rather than their more refined products. Similarly with the appleton, I like their base appleton special. Everything of theirs I've had that goes up in quality maintains the style set out in that base level.

Maybe its just my pocketbook. I'm more likely to buy the lower end regularly and the higher end when i feel like splurging. Maybe that's why i think standard is defined at a base level, and from there we climb to the peaks that you chose. As I wrote, I'll have to drink about it for a while in order to make up my mind.

For nor though, i am quite impressed by your attempt at classification, so much so that my jaw is agape, and i mus close it soon or the rum will start dripping off my chin.

cheers.
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Old 02-04-2008, 04:28 AM   #4
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Good read. I like Pampero.

Last edited by Lew Barrett; 02-04-2008 at 04:40 AM.
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Old 02-04-2008, 03:52 PM   #5
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While I have to agree that Mount Gay has been influential in the rum industry. But when you consider that the Royal Navy adopted rum as part of the sailor's tot in 1687, and the fact that Royal Navy pursers had been buying rum from Caribbean planters well before Mount Gay was founded in 1703, tells me that there was commercial rum production well before Mount Gay started distilling rum.

In 1637, sugar cane came to Barbados from Brazil where sugar had been grown by Spanish and Portuguese planters since it was brought there in the late 15th century. When Portugal and Spain began fighting in Europe, planters moved north toward the English and French islands. It is also worth noting that sugar cane had been brought to the West Indies from the Canary Islands in 1493. Did no one distill any rum until it was produced on the island of Barbados? I hope not for the sake of those who lived in those days.

While it is never my intent to say that Mount Gay doesn't make some classic rums, the Mount Gay XO wasn't even bottled until 1993.

The French were as busy as everyone else making sugar, and rum from molasses. Rhum agricole wasn't distilled until the late 19th century when the price of sugar dropped due to competition from sugar beets and a worldwide recession. Like on the other islands, the profit was in selling sugar and to make rum from sugar cane juice was just uneconomical. Sugar was worth more than rum, and rum in France would have competed with the brandy and wine industries. Not to mention their favorite vodka. Sorry, Grey Goose wasn't a classic French vodka for another hundred or so years. What? Don't tell me it's not even a French classic yet?

While Dave Broom and I agree that there are several styles of rum which form the basis for cataloging rums such as Barbados, Jamaican, Cuban, Martinique/Guadeloupe and Guyanese, but take this just one step further and you'll see more of the picture.

Until the last few years, most of the rum consumed on Barbados was not distilled by Mount Gay, but by the West Indies Rum Refinery. I heard many times, we drink the best and export the rest. Just as Mount Gay is the most famous rum from Barbados you wouldn't find a lot of Bajans drinking it until they started bottling the Extra Old, which is only a reflection of what it used to be. WIRR, on the other hand distills many different rums, many of which are hardly consumed on that island.

A similar story can be found on Puerto Rico where it would be an insult to your Puerto Rican friends to come to their house with a bottle of Bacardi.

In Cuba, most of the rum consumed on the island is white Havana Club, which has little resemblance to their 15 year old or Bacardi. Most Cuban distillers try to distance themselves from the company that now dominates the white rum industry around the world.

The Clement Premiere Canne white rum you mentioned isn't sold on Martinique because Martiniquais prefer a 100 proof white spirit, but never mind. And in Jamaica, the national spirit, by a large margin, is a 126 proof white rum, certainly not the dark aged spirit glorified in most marketing campaigns I've seen.

My point is that there are many styles of rum and I hope that those who are new to the world of rum will take it upon themselves to learn about what makes the rum in their glass different from all the others.

Try to learn what makes the different rums different and appreciate that a lot of what you'll find on spirits labels is marketing. There are few regulations in the rum industry, but it is much more regulated than say the vodka industry - where the spirit can be made from literally anything which will ferment. The regulations for age statements and caramel coloring are essentially the same in the US for all of the dark spirits. In the EU the regulations are a bit stringent.

So where's the best place to start? While I wouldn't suggest starting off with the most expensive bottles on the shelf, getting to know the rum drinking staff at your local liquor store is a good start. Tastings are a great place to learn more, but in the end, I always start with the rum in my glass.
Next plan a trip to the islands and see for yourself what the locals drink, it will definitely change your view and improve your appreciation for my favorite spirit.
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Old 02-04-2008, 06:44 PM   #6
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There is so much to the story of rum, and I am constantly grateful to learn more of it. Thanks, Ed.
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:20 PM   #7
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Thank you Ed, for expressing, along with a great dose of history, what I was trying to express in earlier posts. In Wayne Curtis's book, he talks about being at a tasting competition where they use Zacapa 23 as the baseline. Zacapa had won so many gold medals it was not entered. So, that was the expectation in that situation. There are so many variations, and even though you can try create categories, I try to approach each rum on it's own virtue.
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:47 PM   #8
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I like Pampero And Cruzan SB. MGXO is good, an so's the Barbencourt 15. Zacapa works for me. 1824 is interesting. I think EH 5 could be a favorite, and I'm still working on ED15, trying to get my arms around it.
And so it goes. Why pick one? There's a lot of fun in sorting it all out.
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Old 02-05-2008, 12:09 PM   #9
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I would like to see some standards for production. As far as standards for tasting and selection, that's a bit too stuffy for me, personally. Rum is fun for me, and a part of that is the lack of guidelines and a wide open field (in terms of approaches to the spirit itself).

Before standardized tasting, I'd like to first see everyone's top 7 rum selection list and then you squabble about that until you get one consistent list that everybody agrees is the top 7-10 <period>. Then we can discuss making those standards. In the meantime, I bid everyone Good Luck, as I'll be over at the bar enjoying you guys settle that snag on PaperView.
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Old 02-05-2008, 01:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
While I have to agree that Mount Gay has been influential in the rum industry. But when you consider that the Royal Navy adopted rum as part of the sailor's tot in 1687, and the fact that Royal Navy pursers had been buying rum from Caribbean planters well before Mount Gay was founded in 1703, tells me that there was commercial rum production well before Mount Gay started distilling rum.

In 1637, sugar cane came to Barbados from Brazil where sugar had been grown by Spanish and Portuguese planters since it was brought there in the late 15th century. When Portugal and Spain began fighting in Europe, planters moved north toward the English and French islands. It is also worth noting that sugar cane had been brought to the West Indies from the Canary Islands in 1493. Did no one distill any rum until it was produced on the island of Barbados? I hope not for the sake of those who lived in those days.

While it is never my intent to say that Mount Gay doesn't make some classic rums, the Mount Gay XO wasn't even bottled until 1993.

The French were as busy as everyone else making sugar, and rum from molasses. Rhum agricole wasn't distilled until the late 19th century when the price of sugar dropped due to competition from sugar beets and a worldwide recession. Like on the other islands, the profit was in selling sugar and to make rum from sugar cane juice was just uneconomical. Sugar was worth more than rum, and rum in France would have competed with the brandy and wine industries. Not to mention their favorite vodka. Sorry, Grey Goose wasn't a classic French vodka for another hundred or so years. What? Don't tell me it's not even a French classic yet?

While Dave Broom and I agree that there are several styles of rum which form the basis for cataloging rums such as Barbados, Jamaican, Cuban, Martinique/Guadeloupe and Guyanese, but take this just one step further and you'll see more of the picture.

Until the last few years, most of the rum consumed on Barbados was not distilled by Mount Gay, but by the West Indies Rum Refinery. I heard many times, we drink the best and export the rest. Just as Mount Gay is the most famous rum from Barbados you wouldn't find a lot of Bajans drinking it until they started bottling the Extra Old, which is only a reflection of what it used to be. WIRR, on the other hand distills many different rums, many of which are hardly consumed on that island.

A similar story can be found on Puerto Rico where it would be an insult to your Puerto Rican friends to come to their house with a bottle of Bacardi.

In Cuba, most of the rum consumed on the island is white Havana Club, which has little resemblance to their 15 year old or Bacardi. Most Cuban distillers try to distance themselves from the company that now dominates the white rum industry around the world.

The Clement Premiere Canne white rum you mentioned isn't sold on Martinique because Martiniquais prefer a 100 proof white spirit, but never mind. And in Jamaica, the national spirit, by a large margin, is a 126 proof white rum, certainly not the dark aged spirit glorified in most marketing campaigns I've seen.

My point is that there are many styles of rum and I hope that those who are new to the world of rum will take it upon themselves to learn about what makes the rum in their glass different from all the others.

Try to learn what makes the different rums different and appreciate that a lot of what you'll find on spirits labels is marketing. There are few regulations in the rum industry, but it is much more regulated than say the vodka industry - where the spirit can be made from literally anything which will ferment. The regulations for age statements and caramel coloring are essentially the same in the US for all of the dark spirits. In the EU the regulations are a bit stringent.

So where's the best place to start? While I wouldn't suggest starting off with the most expensive bottles on the shelf, getting to know the rum drinking staff at your local liquor store is a good start. Tastings are a great place to learn more, but in the end, I always start with the rum in my glass.
Next plan a trip to the islands and see for yourself what the locals drink, it will definitely change your view and improve your appreciation for my favorite spirit.
Wow. Long years of experience shine through these remarks. I've learned so much already on this forum - but truth lies at the bottom of many glasses and travels. Thanks for complicating things, yet making them easier in a way
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