When it's summer time in Arizona and the temperatures soar into the 100's, residents head to their backyard pools or book a staycation at a resort to stay cool. And what goes well with soaking in the pool or relaxing on a lounge chair under an umbrella? A cool refreshing Rum drink of course!

Since Arizona is a state with low relative humdity (it's a dry heat) and the human body is robbed of water rapidly, one can become dehydrated during the summer months. However, nothing goes better during this time of year than cold and refreshing rum cocktails. This is why places like the Caribbean and Hawaii are most popular for their bartenders mixing-up some of the best rum drinks, like pina coladas, daiquiris, Mai Tais and other delicious concoctions.

Rum (Ron – Spanish; Rhum – French), the name of that multifaceted alcoholic beverage, conjures up pictures of Sir Henry Morgan, the Spanish explorer in the new world, the smugglers or Rum runners of prohibition. Its career has been romantic and replete with legends, some of which are doubtless fictional. Rum was America’s favorite drink long before bourbon was even invented. In 1775, more than 12 million gallons of Rum were consumed annually in the 13 colonies, a fairly significant amount for a population that was still under three million at the time.  The early popularity of Rum in this country lessened as a result of the Embargo Act of 1807, which made the importing of anything from England, France or their territories illegal. By the time the restriction on West Indies molasses was lifted, Bourbon and Rye Whiskies had supplanted Rum as the settler’s favorite. But use of the term Rum to mean all distilled spirits was well established and for years anti-alcohol organizations railed against ‘demon rum’.

the history of rum:

Rum comes from a grass whose botanical name is “Saccharin officinarum”, but is commonly known as sugarcane. The earliest mention we have of sugarcane dates back to 327 B.C., when Alexander the Great returned from his expedition to India. Whether sugarcane originated in the Northeastern valleys of India or in the islands of the South Pacific, we may never know, but it was finally brought to Europe by the Arabs after 636 A.D.  Most historical accounts of the commercial origins of Rum point to the early voyages of Columbus, who is said to have brought sugarcane cuttings from the Canary Islands to the West Indies in the early 15th century. Sugarcane thrived throughout the Caribbean Islands as well as in South and Central America, and Rum came into prominence in the burgeoning sugarcane trade. Molasses, which is produced when sugar is crystallized, became to Caribbean countries what malted barley was to the Scots and grape wine was to the French - the raw ingredient for a distinctive distilled spirit. Rum is the alcoholic distillate or mixture of distillates from the fermented juice of sugarcane, sugarcane molasses, or other sugarcane by-products distilled at less than 190proof (whether or not such proof is further reduced before  bottling to not less than 80 proof.) The distillate must possess the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to Rum.

classification:

There are four classifications of Rum: The first is the very dry, light-bodied Rums, generally produced in the Spanish-speaking countries of which Puerto Rican Rum is today’s outstanding example; the second is the medium-bodied rums: the third is the rich, full-bodied, pungent Rums usually produced in the English-speaking islands and countries, the best example of which is Jamaican Rum; and the fourth is the light-bodied but pungently aromatic East Indian Batavia Arak Rum from Java.  Rums are mainly produced in the region of the Caribbean Sea, including the West Indies and the northern countries of South America. Light-bodied Rums are produced in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain and Canada. Medium-bodied Rums, which are more in the style of light Rums, include those from Haiti, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana (known as Demeraran Rums). The full-bodied, pungent Rums come primarily from Jamaica and Martinique. This does not mean that Puerto Rico produces only light-bodied and Jamaica only full-bodied Rums. Both countries can produce both types, but they are better known for their own traditional types.

production:

The production of Rum begins with harvesting the cane. The freshly cut cane is brought into the sugar mills, where it is passed through enormous, very heavy, crushing rollers that express the juice. The juice is boiled to concentrate the sugar and evaporate the water. Then it is clarified. The result is a heavy, thick syrup. The sugar is separated and removed. What remains is molasses. Sometimes this retains up to 5% sugar. This molasses is then fermented and distilled into Rum.  For over three hundred years Rum has been made in the West Indies, but it is also produced in other sugarcane-growing sections of the world. It was made in New England, which imported molasses from the West Indies for this purpose. Many New England shipping families engaged in an infamous cycle of trade in the production of New England Rum. Then it was carried to Africa, perhaps with stops at Madeira, the Azores, or the Canaries, where some of it was sold. The remainder was exchanged for African blacks, who were brought back to the West Indies to become slaves, in exchange for molasses that was brought back to New England to be distilled into Rum so that the cycle could begin all over again.

fermentation:

Yeast is added to the base ingredient to start the fermentation process. While some rum producers allow wild yeasts to perform the fermentation, most use specific strains of yeast to help provide a consistent taste and predictable fermentation time. Dunder, the yeast-rich foam from previous fermentations, is the traditional yeast source in Jamaica. The yeast employed will determine the final taste and aroma profile. Distillers who make lighter rums prefer to use faster-working yeasts. Use of slower-working yeasts causes more esters to accumulate during fermentation, allowing for a fuller-tasting rum.

distillation:

As with all aspects of rum production, no standard method is used for distillation. While some producers work in batches using pot stills, most rum production is done using column still production. Pot still output contains more congeners than the output from column stills, so produces fuller-tasting rums.

aging & blending:

Many countries require rum to be ages for at least one year. This aging is commonly performed in used bourbon casks, but may also be performed in other types of wooden casks or stainless steel tanks. The aging process determines the color of the rum. When aged in oak casks, it becomes dark, whereas rum aged in stainless tanks remains virtually colorless. Due to the tropical climate common to most rum producing areas, rum matures at a much higher rate than typical for Scotch or Cognac. An indication of this higher rate is the angels' share, or amount of product lost to evaporation. While products aged in France or Scotland see about 2% loss each year, tropical rum producers may see as much as 10%. After aging, rum is normally blended to ensure a consistent flavor. Blending is tghe final step in the rum-making process. As part of this blended process, light rums may be filtered to remove any color gained during aging. For darker rums, caramel may be added to adjust the color of the final product.

grades of rum:

Perhaps no other distilled spirit boasts as many styles as Rums. Rums of varying body, flavor and color are produced throughout the Caribbean region, including the islands of Puerto Rico, Virgin Island, Dominican Republic/Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica as well as Central and South America countries like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. All of these countries along with many others are steeped in Rum-making traditions and much can be surmised about Rum's style and taste based on its country of origin. Despite these variations, the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum: Light, Gold, Dark, Spiced, Flavored, Overproof & Premium rums, as with other sipping spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, are in a special market category. These are generally from boutique brands that sell carefully produced and aged rums. They have more character and flavor than their "mixing" counterparts and are generally consumed straight.

For over three hundred years, Rum has been made in the West Indies, but it is also produced in the other sugarcane-growing sections of the world. It was made in New England, which imported molasses from the West Indies for this purpose. Many New England shipping families engaged in a infamous cycle of trade in the production of New England Rum. Then it was carried to Africa, perhaps with stops at Madeira, the Azores, or the Canaries, where some of it was sold. The remainder was exchanged for African blacks, who were brought back to the West Indies to become slaves, in exchange for molasses that was brought back to New England to be distilled into Rum so that cycle could begin all over again.

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