Luis Ayala, Editor of "Got Rum?" magazine, Rum Consultant and Founder of The Rum University.
Luis Ayala with Snifter of Rum
Luis Ayala, Rum Consultant
Are Spiced Rums Really Spiced?
It is October once again, a month that in our hemisphere we often associate with a return to cooler weather and with the All Hallow’s Eve celebration, which is observed in many countries around the world. October is also the month we typically devote to reviewing spiced rums, due to their connection to traditional holiday spices and, in some cases, to goblins and general mischievousness.
Closely examining offerings in the spiced rum category reveals one common trend: the use of vanilla (pure vanilla if we are lucky, artificial vanillin if we are not). Why is it that vanilla, which is not even a spice, has become synonymous with spiced rums? It is no secret that vanilla has a very wide demographic appeal: consumers of all ages and from all walks of life consider its presence in foods and beverages an “indulgence,” one that they’ve come to closely associate with celebratory items such as chocolate and caramel.
When we work with Master Blenders on rum formulations involving vanilla, we always bring to their attention the many different variations and derived roles associated with it. For example, single fold vanillas are extraordinarily aromatic, but are more expensive than higher-fold versions, which are better for depth and lingering aftertaste. If we are working on a spiced rum, we stress the point that vanilla is not a spice and should only be used to enhance the appreciation of veritable spices (allspice, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, etc.). When looking at single fold vanillas, it is also important to know the geographical and processing differences between the varieties available. Mexican, Madagascar, Tahitian and Indonesian varieties can offer floral, sweet, fruity or smoky traces, all of which can be paired perfectly with the right base rum.
It is my hope that, as time goes by, more spiced rums will feature spices as the main
flavors, rather than just having a vanillacentric character. But even if this doesn’t happen, I hope that the vanillas used are more a reflection of quality than quantity. So grab a bottle of your favorite spiced rum, find a comfortable place to sit down and enjoy this special issue of “Got Rum?”.
Luis Ayala, Editor and Publisher