What Rum to buy, I’m looking for the best buy for the money? What do I really want, which one gives me the biggest bang for the money? These are the things that cross my mind every time that I go into a bar or liquor store to by rum. For myself, I’m going to be drinking it either neat or on the rocks, so my considerations will be different from someone that is going to be mixing it with something.
The first thing I look for is a good eye appeal through the glass bottle. Color and clarity are very important to me. This is an indicator of the way that the producer took time to give you a good first impression. I’m not talking about “eye catching” labels, but a true pure product. I tend to steer away from products that are in opaque bottles, unless I am familiar with the rum, it makes me wonder what they are trying to hide.
Secondly I’m looking for a brand that I know something about. This is important, because I don’t want rum that is contrived from an unaged neutral spirit and then artificially colored and flavored to taste like real aged rum. Most of the time, I’ll choose a rum that is made by a small batch distiller, because they are more personally involved with the rum. I find that I can really enjoy rums that range from about 2 to 3 years in a barrel. I do like a number of rums that have been sweetened, but what bothers me is when it is claimed not to have additives, but really does.
The next point I look for is if there is an age statement on the bottle, what does it really mean. Age statements to be really useful to determining the value of the rum should reflect the portion of the blend that has spent the least amount of time in the barrel. Aging is very expensive, and truth about the age of the rum is paramount to the value of the rum. True aged rums loose roughly 2% of the barrel per year and the cost of storage makes the rum more expensive and contribute to the real value of the rum.
For me, it isn’t where the rum is made, but rather how it is made. The way that it is fermented, how long the fermentation is allowed to go on. I prefer rums that are fermented in batches rather than through a “continuous” fermentation, better flavors remain in batch fermentation. Rums that are pot still or combination still tend to retain more of the flavor before they are put into the barrel. Multi column stills leave almost pure alcohol or neutral spirit, thus relying on the barrels to get the flavor. This is the method used by the large bulk rum producers; they are in the business of producing alcohol rather than rum.
I feel that the best tasting rums are going to be made from cane juice, or high sugar content molasses, but there are a lot of rums out there that taste very good that are made form a wide variety of sugarcane derivatives. The source of the fermented cane derivative is less important to me that the way that it is fermented. The rums that are made with cane juice are going to be more expensive that those from molasses or sugars, but you have to decide how much money you want to spend on a bottle of rum. There are value factors for all price range rums.
Your first decision is how much money you want to spend on the bottle of rum, the next is to look at the expressions in that price range. After that it will take a little bit of research on the ones that fall into your price range. Narrowed the list down to 3 or four and go out and try to find them in a bar where you can taste them. It is the easiest way to make your final selection on which one is the best value for you. You are the only one that matters, is you are after all the one that is going to be drinking it. Do your research very carefully; there is a lot of misinformation out there, so get as much information on the rum as you can. Once you find your “best buy rum”, sit back and enjoy it.