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The 14 Greatest Rums to Drink Proper Now, From Refined Sippers to Cocktail Mixers

The 14 Greatest Rums to Drink Proper Now, From Refined Sippers to Cocktail Mixers

Everything You Need to Know About Rum

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What is rum and what are the different styles of rum?

The cliché is that rum is the “wild West” of spirits because there are so few rules regulating how it’s made. To a certain extent, that’s true, although there can be quite stringent rules depending on the country. Regardless of where or how it’s made, rum must be distilled from sugarcane—either the juice extracted from the pressed sugarcane stalks; cane syrup, which is the juice boiled down to remove some of the water; or molasses, a sugarcane by-product. The vast majority of rums are distilled from molasses. Rum can be aged or un-aged, and there’s a seemingly endless variety of flavor profiles to explore.

Why are some rums spelled “rhum”?

Rhum generally refers to rhum agricole, rums distilled from cane juice that are only allowed to be made in authorized areas of the French islands, notably Martinique and Guadeloupe. These rums require an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) to be designated a rhum agricole. There are many agricole-style rums distilled from cane juice made all over the world, but they lack the AOC designation.

How should you drink rum?

Rum is often thought of as something to put into sugary or frozen cocktails, and of course there are plenty of rums out there that are made for mixing. But a good rum—especially a good aged rum—can be sipped in the same way as a whisky or a Cognac, using the same glassware. Some aged rums can also be subbed out for whiskey in cocktails like Manhattans or Old Fashioneds. Un-aged rums can be more rough-hewn and challenging, but they can also be worthy sippers. That said, the best way to drink rum is… any way you enjoy it. Neat, on the rocks, in a rum & cola or a Daiquiri, there’s no “wrong” way to drink rum, unless you’re pouring it into your nose instead of your mouth.

Why are some rums sweeter than others?

The sweetness of a rum can depend on how it’s distilled and aged. Rum aged in a charred ex-bourbon barrel, for instance, can pick up a lot of flavor from the sugars naturally occurring in the barrel. This can also apply to “light” rums, which are barrel-aged and then filtered to remove the color (and some of the flavor). Other rums, however, namely those produced in Latin America, traditionally have sugar added after distillation, as well as artificial coloring and/or flavoring. There are no rules against this practice in most countries, and artificially sweetened rums are also some of the most popular and widely enjoyed. But if you have a rum with unusually prominent vanilla notes and a viscous mouthfeel, that sweetness may not be natural.

How did we choose the rums on this list?

Several factors went into making this list, including availability—plenty of incredible rums are, sadly, virtually impossible to procure. We also wanted to include a wide array of styles and flavor profiles. But in the end, what mattered most was, do we think each rum is worthy of being called the best in its specific category? Aroma, mouthfeel, flavor profile and finish were all considered in making these choices. Lists like this inevitably provoke discussion and disagreement, and that’s a good thing. But each choice made is one we can stand behind.

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Why should you trust us?

Tony Sachs has been writing about rum and other spirits since 2007, visiting distilleries and meeting the people who distill and blend rum to learn the techniques and the stories behind each one. He is a judge for several spirits competitions including the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and in addition to close to a decade of writing for Robb Report, he’s written for numerous other publications, including Forbes, HuffPost, Whisky Advocate, and Esquire.

Source: Robb Report

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