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Discovering Rum

Most people think of rum as the main ingredient to popular cocktail such as the Mojito, Cuba Libre and many other tropical concoctions.  To most rum is seen as a mixer and not thought of as being in the same echelon as fine spirits such as scotch or cognac.  However, this preconception that rum is an inferior spirit that is best used for mixing is a complete fallacy. There are a countless number of fine aged rums on the market that are designed to be enjoyed straight, just like scotch or cognac.  In-fact, aged rum can be an utter epiphany on the palate, capable of standing its ground against the finest whiskeys the world has to offer.  However, rum does all this at a fairly modest price-point compared to today’s currently bloated single malt scotch prices.  For the price of an in expensive single malt you can purchase a wonderful aged rum!  Also for all you cigar lovers out there, rum can be an excellent compliment to your fine stogie as well.  The two pair up beautifully and why wouldn’t they? They both are derived from tropical climates, so it is only natural that they would go hand in hand. The following rums are some personal favorites of mine:

Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve Du Domaine:
It is a classified as a rhum agricole.   Rhum agricole means that the rum is distilled from freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice or honey as opposed to molasses, the cheaper by-product of the sugar making industry. Molasses can be preserved, stored, shipped, and distilled at any point during the year. On the other hand, when sugarcane is pressed into fresh juice it does not last very long, in fact it begins to ferment within hours of being picked and pressed. The timeframe for creating rum straight from cane juice is quite short since it can only be done in the spring when the cane is ripe enough to harvest, which is why pure-cane based rums are far more rare than molasses based rums.  Barbancourt ferments it rums for three days and utilizes a double distillation process.  All of their rums are bottle at 80 proof via dilution process utilizing purified rainwater.  Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve Du Domaine is available in limited quantities and aged a minimum of 15 years in large, French oak barrels. Initially, this rum was earmarked for only members Barbancourt family, however, in the mid-60s it was released for public sale.  15 years of aging makes this cognac-like Haitian elixir an immensely complex spirit that is brimming charm and sophistication.  It is sensational in its contradictions, it is intricate yet silky smooth, full-bodied yet subtle.

Ron Zacapa Centenario 23:
This rum is a legend in the industry and has supposedly won more competitions then any other rum on the market.  This rum is also a rhum agricole, distilled from only the sweetest first-crush virgin sugar cane honey.  This rum is created from a blend of rums aging from 6 to 23 years of age.  Zacapa’s blending technique is adaptation of the solera process developed in Spain for wine centuries ago. Zacapa does not chill filtered any of there rum because of the flavor loss that is incurred as a result of the process.   All of Zacapa rums are aged at an altitude of 2300m, in specially selected barrels that once contained robust bourbon, delicate Sherries and fine Pedro Ximenez wines.  There a several advantages to Zacapa’s high altitude aging process, the first being that it results in a lower level of evaporation than in a typical tropical climate.  The second major benefit is that the lower average temperature results in a altered flavor profile from the charred barrels. Zacapa Centenario 23 exhibits a rich mahogany color.  the nose offers ups hints of vanilla, almond, carmel fudge, sweet fruits, toasted wood  and just a touch of christmas spice. This full-bodied rum is extremely dense and exceptionally well balanced.  Flavors of vanilla and molasses envelop the palate and lead to a smooth and lengthy finish.  Zacapa’s Centenario 23 is one of the most sophisticated and decadent rums on the market today.

Cruzan Single Barrel Rum:
Cruzan Single Barrel is a traditional molasses based rum.  It is a blend of rums aged between 5 and 12 years in ex-bourbon and whiskey barrels. After the blend is constructed, it is placed in a new charred oak barrel where it resides for an additional year, allowing the various rums in the blend to marry together.  Hence the name “Single Barrel”. The additional year in new oak also provides the blend with more flavor than it otherwise would have had.  This is an extremely approachable rum, with a wonderful nose of carmel and brown sugar.  Flavors of dried fruit, smoke, oak, spice, maple, vanilla and nut dance across the palate.  This rums flavor profile is almost cognac like in stature and style.  Keep this in mind all you cognac fans out there next time you are looking for something a little different to enjoy with a fine cigar.

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