Identity and Personality
In today’s highly-competitive market, one of the requirements for a rum to be successful is its ability to have a truthful identity and a well-defined personality.
Identity, as defined by the dictionary, is the sum of traits or characteristics that make one thing similar to other things. It comes from the Latin idem et idem, meaning “same and same.” A distilled spirit can be identified as being a rum, only if it meets the same criteria as all other spirits accurately categorized as such. In all countries with a legal definition for “rum,” this identity means that it must be produced from the fermentation and subsequent distillation of sugarcane or its derivatives, usually distilled below 95% ABV.
Personality, on the other hand, is what makes a person or, in this case a rum, somewhat different from the rest of its peers. For example, some rums are not aged, others are bottled at cask strength, and so on.
One of the biggest problems I have been seeing for many years now, is that in order to highlight their personalities, some rums are erasing their identities. In the USA, for example, we have seen many cases of so called “rums” made with either maple syrup, sorghum molasses, sugar beets, or other non-sugarcane based materials. Also in the USA and abroad, we are seeing “rums” being distilled above 95%, which puts them in the “cane neutral spirit,” “cane vodka” or other similar identities.
These violations of beverage norms are appearing in record numbers, due in great part to lack of self-regulation, but primarily due to lack of oversight from enforcing compliance. The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau), in the USA, is in charge of both collecting the taxes generated from the sale of the alcoholic beverages, and for enforcing the regulations that could limit those sales. The evidence clearly shows that, when faced with the option, the former activity is more likely to win than the latter.
Let’s all do our part to make sure the rum industry reclaims and retains its identity, rather than becoming a motley crew of incongruous “rum-like” personalities.
Editor and Publisher