Made from either sugarcane or molasses, Rum is treated with a bit of revulsion by a few of us. They kick back the dark thing without ever nurturing the thought of savouring it in the mouth like Scotch or Cognac or wine. Hard stuff. Finish it off like bitter medicine, never giving it time to eat into the taste buds. Sorry, you are yet to taste the real McCoy! There are rums that are as precious as the most famous Cognac or wine. You'd love to give them all the time in the world holding it in the mouth.
Like whiskey, rum too ages with time. And turns tastier.
They too like to chatter with the barrel in which they sit for long, slowly leaching out colours and flavours from the wall. The climate and the wood all collude in the maturing process making the content more complex for your mouth. The terroir too.
For example, for an alcoholic drink, five years sitting inside a cask in the Dominican Republic will create more wonders than the same period of wait in chilly Scotland. Thanks to the scorching sun. That explains why the Caribbean islands cooking under the tropical sun produces more rum than elsewhere (another reason is slavery). And as the rum meditates inside the cask, it turns from a light golden colour to deep brown, picking up some curious flavours along the way.
And how many of you know that just as in the world of Scotch whiskeys, there are blended rums too? The dark stuff you hold in your hand could be a symphony of rums born of different ages. They call it the Solera process (of blending rums).
Here are five premium rums out there in the world which you should try sipping before you ever plan to stop drinking.
Samaroli Jamaica Rhapsody Rum
Producer of artisan whiskeys and rums, the Italian Samorali is hell-bent to bring variety and uniqueness in alcohol. The Jamaica Rhapsody Rum represents that radical spirit. Samorali sources aged rums from various Jamaican distilleries, bring them to Scotland and blend them in distinctive ways to create one of the best artisan rums in the world. At a time they bring out only 400 bottles out of which 264 get to the US.
Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
You haven't tasted rum if you haven't met Appleton. Appleton Estate of Jamaica produces some of the best rums in the world. The 21-year old version blends rums which are - well the name tells it - at a minimum 21 years old is considered to be their greatest. In the wrapper, you will get all the details of the rums along with their ages that went into its creation. Sip it. In the mouth you'd find the rum sweet, giving off vapours of sugar and coffee notes. The finish is very long, that you'd not forget the experience for months.
Zafra 30 Year Rum
It is very difficult for you to get hold of a bottle of this dark manna, which is one of the most mature (longest-aged) rums available in the world. They begin working with sugarcane, turning it to molasses before it is fermented. After fermentation, it is sent to Panama for distillation. The drink has to sit three decades inside the wood, so, great care is taken to select the bourbon casks for the purpose. Decades of conversation with the wood inside the barrel will make the rum, mature, deep and complex. Cutting through the caramel, your tongue may ease out faint strains of vanilla, licorice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
El Dorado 21 Year Rum
As the name tells us, it is a twenty-one-year-old wonder, cooked (distilled and aged) under the punishing sun in Guyana. You taste it once and you turn into its ardent fan forever. The rich fruity notes in aroma is so tempting that you'd want to know how it takes to your mouth. You'd pick up an assortment of dried fruits and nuts. The long finish (the taste that lingers after) that evokes the taste of fried banana is one of the many reasons why people go back again and again to this Guyana experience. Savour it slowly.
Ron Zacapa XO
Want to try something from Gautemala, that country in Central America? Go Ron Zacapa! No traditional molasses for fermenting, the rum is distilled using sugarcane honey and aged at a height of 7544 feet. The rums that go into the blend ranges from 6 to 25 years which are aged in a variety of casks - wine, sherry, bourbon etc - making Ron Zacapa very complex and deep. Pour neat into a glass to get ready to be assaulted with the sweet flavours of fruits and spices.
(Manu Remakant is a freelance writer who also runs a video blog - A Cup of Kavitha - introducing world poetry to Malayalees. Views expressed here are personal)