My first contact with the rum scene was a few of years back, when I was still enjoying the occasional sweet rum. Bridged by the rums of Plantation, I quickly made my way into the world of independent bottlers and natural, unadulterated rums, however. At that point, I also started to develop a predilection for the historical side of rum, i.e. the history of sugar cane and the Caribbean, the evolution of rum and the origins of the different styles. An important companion on this journey were the blogs Barrel Aged Thoughts, which has recently been reanimated, and its successor Barrel Aged Mind. Both are pioneers in educating rum drinkers and providing detailed background information on bottlings, bottlers and producers. In my opinion, this is how rums should be presented and discussed. Hence there is no point in denying that I took a lot of inspiration from them. Heck, without them I probably wouldn’t even have started this blog in the first place. Any similarities in style should therefore be seen as an homage, not as some cheap copy. Of course I try to bring in my own style as much as possible.
The content of this blog is mainly intended for more advanced rum drinkers. You should have got a broad idea of the different rum styles as well as some experience with drinking rums at higher drinking- or cask strength. Furthermore, you should enjoy natural, non-sweetened rums. That said, you will not find the typical beginners’ rums such as the Botucal/ Diplomatico or Zacapa on this page. If you think that you do not meet the profile outlined above, I am afraid that the reviews, information and opinions on this blog might not be of much use for you. It is not that I want to scare you away, quite the opposite, actually. However, I do not want to disappoint you by recommending a rum that you will not enjoy since it won’t fulfill your expectations.
I refrain from giving my reviewed rums a final score for the simple reason that I believe that a score can never fully do a rum justice. It is virtually impossible to objectively rank all rums out there in honest relation to one another. Moreover, simply having a score under a review does not mean whether someone is going to like a particular rum or not. Tastes differ and cannot be captured by a number. Hence a review should always be judged in its entirety and not simply by its conclusion or a final score.
Instead, I do my best to state my final verdict as clear as possible. I compare distillery bottlings across and between vintages to the best of my abilities and already tasted and comparable rums, providing some sort of ranking of similar rums as much as possible. I believe that this gives you a better idea of the reviewed rum than a score as rums of different styles are hard to compare. Eventually, a point would come at which we’d be comparing apples and oranges. In order to put my reviews into perspective, the followings lists a few key facets that typically make a good rum for me:
- I mostly enjoy rums of the British Style, i.e. those rums that resemble the profile(s) of rums from the former British colonies. Ideally, these should be edgy, honest and unadulterated products that have unique characteristics. That is not to say that I do not enjoy other rum styles; they are just not my focus. Occasionally you will find reviews of other styles as well. Note however that Spanish Style rums in particular really have to stand out from their competitors for me to enjoy them.
- To put what I have just said differently, I do not like sweetened rums all that much. The reason for this is manifold. a) I personally do not enjoy overly sweet products in general. b) Sugar removes many of the rough edges that I am looking for. c) It disguises a bad product as sugar covers up many flaws in spirits. If you do not believe me test it yourself: Take a bad product of a spirit you typically enjoy and add just a hint of simple syrup; the effect is amazing. In any case, I firmly believe that any added amount of sugar ought to be stated on the label.
While there are of course exceptions to this rule, it always makes me wonder what these rums could have been without the added sugar…
- I usually prefer heavy, i.e. pot still, rums in cask strength as these typically contain the most and also most intense flavours. Also rums coming in cask strength give me the opportunity to dilute them to my desire, the opposite is clearly not possible for lower proof rums. Mostly I do not even dilute my rum at all, but sometimes it makes for a nice experiment.
Last but not least, I am afraid that it has to be explicitly stated these days: The reviews on this side, the comments, impressions and views therein as well as in any article you can find on this side solely reflect my opinion. If I state “xy is better than abc because of this and that” it should be clear that this is simply my own perception. I do not intend to make be-all and end-all arguments and I do not see myself as a “godfather-of-rum”, as I have ironically been called after disagreeing with someone on the alleged greatness of a specific rum. No, I am an amateur whose only qualification to judge the presented rums is stemming from the numerous personal (cross-)tastings I have done over the years.