Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Tuesday Tasting: A Dozen Fine Rums
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we're sipping some fine rum.
You don't have to be on a beach in the Caribbean to enjoy a fine sipping rum, but it doesn't hurt. Rum is an incredible spirit. It does marvelous things to virtually any type of fruit juice when mixed over ice. It can turn a bottle of Coke into a party. And, in finer forms, is perfect neat or over the rocks.
Man’s quest to brew, distill and otherwise ferment is an amazing study in persistence and making use of what God has provided from the regional harvest. In Northern climates, grains and grapes, along with various fruits and vegetables thrown in the mix, were found highly useful in creating a mind boggling array of beverages. Get closer to the Equator and plants like sugar cane, actually a tropical grass, and agave, an off shoot of the lily family, are used by industrious distillers to turn out potent potables. Regardless of the raw ingredient, in the right hands skill, patience and a laundry list of environmental factors can come together to make a drink that deserves to be savored.
Rum can be distilled from the fresh juice collected when cane is crushed or from molasses manufactured from sugar cane. In either case, the distilling process starts off with sucrose, which is different than nearly all other alcohol-making processes in which a starch is combined with enzymes and cooked to convert glucose to sucrose.
Rum is an amazingly flexible spirit that gives distillers a rich palette to use in creating flavor profiles. Aged rums should be thought of as cousins to fine Scotch or Cognac, not something to be consumed in frozen concoctions sporting tiny umbrellas -- not that there is anything wrong with that.
I recently had the chance to sit down with a few great rums and do some side-by-side tasting. I was amazed by the range of flavors in these fine rums. Any of these rums is worth the investment.
Appleton Estate Extra 12-Year-Old Rum ($30): This 86-proof Jamaican rum is a deep tarnished bronze color. It starts off with a pleasant butterscotch nose and has a long warm finish that lingers with hints of coffee.
Bardenay Small Batch Cane Sugar Rum ($20): This 80-proof rum from a small Idaho distiller is straw gold in color, with a clean nose. It warms the mouth and offers hints of butterscotch, walnuts and clover.
Dogfish Head Wit Spiced Rum ($34): This 80-proof rum from Delaware is tripled distilled. Its clear color hides the fact that it is loaded with citrus tones. Curacao orange peel comes through clearly with hints of coriander.
Oronoco Rum ($35): A smooth white rum from Brazil that starts off with a slightly cotton candy nose, hints of clover and vanilla, that finishes with touches of wood.
Prichards' Crystal Rum ($25): This 80-proof rum is distilled five times and offers a crisp, refreshing taste. The nose offers up an eggnog base and the flavor has a slightly sweet finish.
Prichards' Fine Rum ($38): This 80-proof Tennessee rum is amber color. The nose has a unique almost blueberry quality, while the flavor delivers rich and warm oak, spice and nut tones. This is a rum to linger over at the end of the evening.
Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve Oak Aged 15 Years ($36): This copper colored rum from Haiti has a smooth flavor profile with pleasing hints of cigar and leather, finishing with fresh wood.
Rogue Dark Rum ($28): This 80-proof rum from Oregon is double distilled and has a rich amber color. There is a slight hint of smoke in the early flavor profile, almonds and a pleasantly caramelized sugar finish.
Ron Anejo Aniversario Pampero ($30): This 80-proof rum from Venezuela is a dark amber color and serves up a rich vanilla nose that gives way to several layers of hazelnut, maple and oak flavors.
Ron Flor de Cana Grand Reserve 7-Year-Old Anejo ($26): An 80-proof rum from Nicaragua, it is the color of a new penny and has a slightly oak nose. It is smooth and mellow throughout with hints of citrus sweetness and bits of pepper mingled in its flavor profile.
Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva ($30): A blend of 15 year old rums, there are hints of almond in the nose of the amber-gold colored drink. Clear vanilla and oak tones come through in the profile.
Ron Zacapa Centenario ($40): An 80-proof rum from Guatemala blended from rums up to 23 years old, it is a deep amber Cognac color. A very smooth rum with hints of brown sugar, roasted almonds and refreshing vanilla tones. Truly one of the world’s great rums.