From my perch at the Rum Bar I get this question all of the time. Most people who have not ever tried a fine rum, are hesitant on trying something new. Most don't want to spend a bunch of money and then be disappointed, so the go back to their bourbon, scotch or vodka and remain uneducated to the world of rum.
There are several ways to approach this problem, one is take "Rum Flights" with the help of a knowledgeable bartender, or just ask a bartender to recommend a good rum for you. To get the real answer you must first evaluate your palate and cocktail likes. Foe example if you are a whiskey drinker, you might want to try a Zafra from Panama or a Flor de Cana from Nicaragua. If you have a scotch palate, you could try the Plantation Trinidad. These are only the tip of the iceberg. There are rums that are sweet to the palate and in the finish, there are dry rums, and there are rums that are sweet to the palate and dry on the finish( these are usually among my favorites). These flavors come from the blending, aging methods, and what is added to the rum (sweeteners, flavors, spices, etc.).
|Rum XP's at Cockspur Distillery|
Once you have evaluated your tastes, then you need to find a bar that has a good inventory of rums, "Smuggler's Cove" in San Francisco, "The Rum Bar" in Philadelphia, or "The Rum Bar" in Key West are all good examples. You're looking for a bar that has good aged rums, not just a bunch of flavored or spiced rums to try to catch the "flavored vodka" groupies. Next you need a knowledgeable bartender who know something about the rums to lead you down the correct path to your new favorite spirit. The path to your favorite rum is a great one when you have a good guide to take you in the proper direction.
You can read many of the rum blogs that are out there to get an idea on what specific rums are about .http://rumconnection.com/
is a great example or pick up a copy of "Robert Burr's Gifted Rums" or visit him on line at http://www.giftedrums.com/
and if you would like a place to find even more try http://worldofrum.blogspot.com/
. These are all great places to locate more rum information and help you the large group of us that are out and enjoying this fine spirit already. ;o)