Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Magic is in the Barrel

     One of the important things in getting the exact flavor that you want from a great rum comes from the barrels that are used to age the rums.   The barrels can and are used for many other types of aging before being used for aging rum.   The oak barrels can be charred, lightly or heavily depending on what is to be the desired result for the maturing of the rum.  They may also be unburned as well.   Most of the barrels are former bourbon barrels made of American Oak that were used only once to age bourbon.

Charred and unburned staves
     Today in the modern distillery the blender has many different rums at his or her disposal from which to create a new rum.   At DUSA, Tito Cordero has some sixty different rums from which to create his new blends.   The differences are for the most part how and in what the rums were aged.  I have tasted rums that are aged in sherry barrels, cognac barrels, scotch barrels, and many other types of barrels, and each has a distinct flavor that is imparted by the type of barrel in which it is aged.  Most of the alcohol that is placed in the barrels is of a similar in nature to start with, although some is heavier than others, but it is the time spent in the barrel that gives the rum its unique characteristics.
     There is another side of the story too, many of the rums have spent time in barrels before blending, and some are rebarreled after blending to marry the flavors creating a new and different characteristic again.   This will generate a completely different rum that just blending and bottling the rums can not.  

     How come a bottle of old rum is so much more expensive than a young rum?   The most expensive portion of making rum is the aging.  The rum from the distillery has 2 to 30 years of aging before the bottle can be sold.  This means that huge amounts of rum are sitting in storage for many years before they can be bottled and sold.   Think about if you could not reap the benefits of your labor for that long and you had to have enough space to store it as well.  This is expensive any way you look at it. 

     The next time that you open a bottle of twelve to fifteen year old rum, just think about where this nectar has been and what the barrels have done for it in the time since it was distilled.  It is truly a magical change.   It is the natural and slow way of getting a rum flavor, and the best rums are done this way.   ;o)