Rum’s Birth Certificate

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"Pure" is, well "pure"...

Luis, I appreciate the thought, but many of the half million monthly readers of The Rum Project might disagree. "Pure" - simply - means "unadulterated".

"Pure", as examplified by the truly noble spirits of Scotch and Irish Whisky, Single Malts, and bourbon, where the only "additive" is a few drops of E150a color, and more than ever, not even that. Even filtering is being abandoned in favor of a spirit whose quality and art emanates only from its skillful sourcing of raw materials, fermentation, distillation and honest aging. These simply pure spirits are entirely free of the sugaring, glycerol, artificial flavoring and even cheap added wine that are common to roughly half of all rums produced.

Such alteration was long suspected, but thanks to the government testing for sugaring by Finland (ALKO) and Sweden, we soon learned how bad it is - with rums like the Zee's and Dee's - that are obliterated with up to 12 teaspoons of rum per liter. Matusalem was revealed by the US Federal Court to contain secret additions of prune and vanilla extract, yet still sold as a "rum" rather than a legally labelled "flavored rum" in concert with Section 40 of Title 27.

This would cause riots in the world of whisky and bourbon, but for rogue rum? Until recently not much. That's changed: nearly 700 tests have now been conducted and published by governments (ALKO and the Swedes), Drejer, and a host of qualified webmasters - using common and relatively accurate methods used by winemakers and artisan distillers - tests which reveal that almost half are secretly altered by sugaring.

But there's good news too. Almost half the hundreds of tests identify rums that like whisky, have not been secretly altered. A terrific example are the products produced by Richard Seales - a very outspoken supporter of the movement toward honesty in labeling and content.

Look. If a distiller wants to alter his rums with tons of sugar and other flavorings, that's fine, just be honest and say so, and/or label your rums as "flavored" with the primary flavoring identified as required by the regulations. More good news is that more and more independent artisan distillers have decided to distinguish their product by its purity. Example: Cane & Abe makes clear their rum is unfiltered and unsweetened. Luis, the cat is out of the bag. More and more rum lovers are putting their hard earned dollars toward truly pure, high quality rums exemplified by solid and honest production and aging. Secretly sugared rums - produced for the goal of premiumization and profit - are losing favor.

It's about time.

Capn Jimbo's Rum Project more than 5 years ago

can or cannot be given the birth certificate it wants

My favourites are Jamaican Rums - where I am located (Indonesia) Meyers's is the most readily available and my standby; but when I can get it I like a dram or two of Appleton Estate. For non-Jamaican I like Mount Gay and then there are the various "homegrown" varieties of rum produced in my home country of Australia (e.g. Bundaberg and Beenleigh) whick are quite different in nature but have their own unique qualities. I believe all such locally produced products deserve an "Appellation of Origin" a.k.a. "Birth Certificate" as in the case of fine wines.

Peter Seyler more than 5 years ago

re: can or cannot be given the birth certificate it wants

Thanks for your comments Peter, everybody deserves to have their own "birth certificate", the problem arises due to the fact that, over time, some of the rums start being made with materials from other countries. In Barbados, for example, up to 80% of the molasses may be imported from other countries. Which country, then, should they list on their "certificate"? Tough question. Cheers!

Luis Ayala more than 5 years ago

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