Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Rum?

I get asked, "What kind of beer should I order?" a lot. This is an easy question for me to answer... With a question... What do you like? With some effort, I can almost ALWAYS come up with a beer for you to try.

Rum is as varied as Craft Beer and people often don’t know what they like. Everyone has had a beer, but how many people have had a glass of good rum?

Not unlike #CraftBeer, if someone tells me they don’t like rum, I just say “You just haven’t found a rum you like.”

Now, I don’t know if you follow us on Instagram, (If you don't, you should!) but that is where I was asked what rum to try next.

WHEW! That’s a BIG Question, and a timely one at that! Especially given that Rum Bahamas festival starts in 2 days. So, simply put, just go to the Bahamas and find out! No

Ben, aka @Hopperbolic on the Twitter and Instagram is just getting into rum. He is a BIG fan of Craft Beer and often makes me drool on my shirt with the picks he posts. If you don’t follow him, you should! And don't forget his "Significant Other" @TravelingTricia But what to recommend?

As a craft beer guy, I know he has a discerning palate and can handle some intense flavors. He doesn’t need to water down his drinks with sugar and juice, he needs a quality product that will stand on its own.

So I hit my own collection of rum, seeking out suggestions. Some of the rum in my collection is obtuse, some are cost preventative. Some are not great, and some plain suck! But I did find 9 rums that you could put in your collection and never be made fun of! That is to say, if you have these 9 rums, you could spend the evening with the geekiest of rum nerds and never feel like you don't have something for them! 

Koloa Rum Company out of Hawaii is making some amazing rum, using some locally sourced sugar cane. I am a fan of all of their lines. The dark is complex, smooth and drinkable. The Spice is perfect for your glass of coke, cocktails and whatever else you do with it.... Don't mix it with Red Bull! Their Coconut Rum is poised to put Malibu out of business... Used properly!!

 Speaking of Hawaii, let us look at Sammy's Beach Bar Rum. This is a truly great expression of Rum Agricol. That would be rum made from agricultural cane sugar as opposed to Rum Industrial, made with molasses left over from sugar production. Try Beach Bar rum with a few ice cubes and 2 grinds of fresh black pepper!

Cruzan Rum is produced in the USVI on the island of St. Croix. It has been a staple of the region since 1760, and continues to be one of my top 5 rum brands. You can't go wrong with Cruzan! Want to up the ante? Try the single barrel version. Scotch lovers... look out! There's a new kid on the block! Just beware... he plays well with others and gets along with everyone!

While we are on the subject of Cruzan Rum. Let's not forget their "normal" lines of aged rum. Both the aged dark and aged light rums are among the best you'll find. Not to mention affordable... if you have Cruzan Aged dark and Aged Light rum in your Cabinet, you can fake your way through most any rum cocktail out there!  Aged dark is plenty good enough for pouring over ice on a cold Colorado evening. This is a staple in my liquor cabinet.

You simply cannot have a discussion about Rum without including the Jamaican Juggernaut, Appleton! Appleton estates is blended by a lady with one of the finest palates in the industry. Joy Spense and her team of distillers, blenders and marketers make one hell of a team! They consistently produce some of the best rum on the shelf!

Plantation 5-year is in a class of its own. Smooth, drinkable, mixable and affordable. You don't find that very often. Barbados produces some damn fine rum, but this is the one that gets purchased 3 bottles at a time at my house! As our friend Carl says, 1 is none, and 2 is almost out!

Matusalem 15 year is a great rum at a great price. Based on the original Cuban style, and true to it's roots. If you find it, try it! Try it with coke, try it neat. Try it with "Ice and a slice!" (A Big cube of ice and a slice of lime) You won't be disappointed. It's just a solid rum that your beer buddies have probably never had.

Vizcaya. Another Cuban style rum that is sure to please. It will set you back most of a $50 bill, but what the hell! It's only money.... right? And if your banker (Wife) asks, at least you didn't get the Appleton 30-year!

Saving the best for last, Papas Pilar dark. This is a 24-year solara blend rum that is sweet, complex and ultimately mixable. To tell you where I sit before I tell you where I stand, one of my good friends is a staple at the Hemmingway Rum Company. But don't let that sway you, and don't think that sways my opinion! We pride ourselves on a no-bullshit policy here at BKB! If we like it, we like it, if it sucks it sucks, and I don't care who makes it!

 Early on, the company had cork issues, but that is long-since solved and now the Italian produced bottles hold a dark liquid sent strait from the gods... and Papa Hemingway himself! #PapaWouldBeProud as they say!  Distribution is limited, and I have actually flown from Colorado to Florida just to get a bottle! (I won't mention that the family vacation happened at the same time!) BUT... If I had to... I would make that sacrifice! Pilar is the unofficial "Official Rum" of BKB! I simply love the product and what the company stands for!

Forgive the cell phone picks, they are what I sent him. But I feel confident in my suggestions! Especially given the impromptu nature of his question! Notice there is no Bacardi gold in the group. (Bacardi makes Seven Tiki, Which I love, so give me no shit!)
(Avoid Bacardi Select like the plague! But Oakheart goes well with coke...and chicks dig it!!) (Including those that say they "Don't like rum!") Just don't expect top shelf... You'll be OK!

So if you are interested in checking out rum, I think you can’t go wrong with any of the suggestions I’ve made here, and there is an entire world of flavors on top of the suggestions I have made! If you can, make friends with rum people! You can help each-other try new bottles. If you get really inspired, try to make friends with Rum XP judges! They are a great group, and the 4 or 5 that I know are some of the best people I know! If you go clear wacko, you'll eventually become friends with the International Rum Council... and the boundary will be completely removed!

Some Rum sites you should get to know (All people that I know and respect!):

Rum Connection (Award winning rum info!)
Rum Shop Ryan (Mostly islands and boat drinks, but a worthy read!)
Bahama Bob's Rumstyles (Bob is an XP judge and an amazing cocktail magician! Knowledge oozes from his Hawaiian shirts! You can't help to come away with a smile and new info!)
Inu A Kena. Josh Miller is a relevant source for rum knowledge! He is also a homebrewer, and most importantly, he takes a "No BS" approach to his blog! 

I know there are 100 others that I'm missing at the moment, so if you are a rum guy, please feel free to post the links in the comments! We will all benefit from the info!

Have fun checking out different styles, brands and ages of rum! It is a great experience!


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