Thursday, March 27, 2014

What is so Good about Overproof Rums?

     My personal feeling is that the overproof rums provide a more natural flavor lost when the rum is diluted down to 80 proof with water.  Alcohol and wood sharing the same space for a period of time offer some real magic for the flavor of the rum.  When you age rum it is usually done in a overproof condition.  It is only the alcohol that is responding to the wood of the barrel, and the water just goes along for the ride.  If you ever get the chance to taste "barrel proof "rums, rum straight from the aging barrel, you will understand how flavorful the rum is when it comes out of the barrel.   Overproof is an expression of this "barrel proof" flavor.  

I'm not saying that white overproof rums are all that good for sipping, but with some time in a barrel, they become very flavorful and truly shippable.   There are several examples of these shippable overproof rums out there.   Plantation Trinidad Overproof, Panama Red, Penny Blue XO, Smith and Cross and Demerara Lemon Hart.  All of these rums have a very good flavor profile and with a couple of cubes of ice be sipped rather enjoyably.

     The white overproof rums do require some use of mixes to be able to enjoy them, but none the less, make very good cocktails.  Most of these are vary from 125 to 151 proof, J Wray and Nephew Over proof, Bacardi 151, Rum Fire, and Granada's Westerhall Jack Iron, all good mixing overproof rums.

     The top of the heap for pure strength and great mixability is from St. Vincent Distillery, Sunset Very Strong Rum comes in at 169 proof and the undisputed strongest rum on the market.   For the uninitiated, this is pure rocket fuel, it will almost catch fire on the palate when sipped neat.   Just add a little water and lime and it becomes quite drinkable.   I recommend that you mix these with any number of mixes especially Barritt's Ginger Beer, this really kills the burn and makes for an enjoyable experience with this rum.

     I find it funny, that when I visit rum shops throughout the Caribbean, I don't find all of the fancy aged rums, it is usually some form of overproof and a mixer to go with it.   In Jamaica, you can go into any rum shop and it will be J. Wray and Nephew Overproof as the well pour.   It is the same in most of the rural areas of the Caribbean Islands, an overproof is the norm for a well pour.

     I have several of the better overproof rum in stock at the Rum Bar in Key West.  With a little bit of time experimenting with these rums you will begin to really enjoy them.  A perfect example is my "Bahama Bob's Bark Juice" an overproof  aging experiment that is very popular among the visitors and the locals.   These rums will surprise you, they'll become among your favorites too with some time and experimentation.  ;o)