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American Made Rum

When you think of RUM. . sitting at a bar overlooking the Caribbean sea with Reggae music pulsating from the jukebox is just what the doctor ordered.  But, did you know that Rum is also made in America?  Nah. . I did not know that either.  After all, the hot sunny climate of spots like Jamaica, Barbados, Puerto Rico & Cuba is as perfect for growing the sugar cane required for making rum, as it is for sipping a rum & coke or mojito.  But while the Caribbean is undoubtedly an ideal location for producing rum, it’s not the only region to consider when searching for a quality bottle. There are three main types of rum: white rum, dark rum, and spiced rum. Depending on the style, the alcohol content of rum can range from 20% alcohol to 75.5 % alcohol by volume. This notion of America making Rum never entered my mind until I read about it.

During the War for Independence in the USA, the Colonial Army and Navy ran on rations of rum. George Washington famously ordered a double-ration of rum for his troops on second anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1778, and celebrated his first inauguration as President of the United States in 1789 with barrels of rum being offered to his guests.

According to the United States Government Federal Standards of Identity, the following paragraph offers an official definition of rum:

(f) Class 6; rum. “Rum” is an alcoholic distillate from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, sugar cane molasses, or other sugar cane by-products, produced at less than 190 proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to rum, and bottled at not less than 80 proof; and also includes mixtures solely of such distillates. Read more here!

Happily, the American rum story continues to get better. More and more distilleries are popping up across the 50 states, and the quality of rum in American continues to improve, from Florida to the Pacific. Here are some American Rums to try right now:Siesta Key Rum.   This Sarasota, Fla. distillery (Drum Circle Distilling, to be exact) has long put out one of the best rums, not just in America, but anywhere, and distiller Troy Roberts’ loyalty to overwhelming quality continues, led by the flagship, simply spectacular Siesta Key Spiced Rum. Plainly, it’s just incredibly good rum.

Papa’s Pilar Rum.   This wonderful rum, part owned by the Hemingway estate, recently launched its first full-fledged rummaking operations at a new distillery in Key West, though much of the rum will remain sourced from Florida, the Caribbean and Central America. But the aging and finishing of the rum is itself a work of art, and makes it one of the best rums made in America.

Richland Rum.   This American product is notable in that it’s America’s only single-estate rum, meaning every step of the rummaking process happens here, from cane to glass. And the result is a world-class rum, something you expect to find in Martinique, not in Georgia.

Thomas Tew Rum.   This brash pot-still rum is produced by the Newport Distilling Company in Newport, RI, led by its wonderful single barrel expression (though the overproof is wild, too).

There’s a reason rum seems like something you should be sipping beachside, with or without a large-brimmed straw hat. While it can technically be made anywhere, rum’s historically tropical, an island product brimming with history, warmth, spice, and the sweetness of that most beloved, controversial crop: sugar cane.  All rum is the product of sugar cane, which is why rum has some character that may seem like “sweetness” (without necessarily being sweet). Whatever rum is being produced, it starts with cane – pressed to remove excess water and either fermented immediately (to make rhum agricole), or boiled to create a molasses byproduct, from which most rum is made.

You can choose to use your rum for cocktails (mixing rum) – the likes of daiquiris, mojitos and the refreshing dark and stormy with ginger beer – or drinking neat (sipping rum). White and golden rums lend themselves perfectly to cocktail making, while the darker, more aged bottles are usually reserved for sipping. There is no party in the Caribbean without Rum and no Christmas Cake without lots of rum.  Rum is my drink of choice and I believe no Rum is better than those distilled in the Islands of the Caribbean. I enjoy Appleton, Bacardi, Cruzan & Mount Gay rum. When looking for good-quality rum, you’re going to want to look to the sun-soaked Caribbean with its plethora of distilleries and bottles. You are free to disagree, after tasting one of these.  Then, tell me what’s your favorite Rum?

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5 Comments

  • Reply Antionette Blake

    I used to drink Rum and Coke like I should have been drinking water with lemon. It was actually my favorite drink, now I tend to stick with beer and wine. We brought home several bottles of Rum from the DR years ago and they are still in the China Closet waiting to be drunk – how long does it last?

    07/07/2017 at 3:20 pm
    • Reply Neti*

      As long it is un-opened, it should last a long time. But, I must tell you that Rum Creams have a short shelf life and will harden over time. My drink is Rum + Whatever is available. Thanks Sis.

      07/10/2017 at 11:43 pm
  • Reply Lenya

    Never even thought about it but if I had I would probably have opted for the Caribbean, it’s what people associate with rum. Wasn’t there a song called something like rum and coca cola? Or was it an ad? can’t remember, tho.
    much luv and don’t drink too much of *whatever is available* hahaha
    Lenya
    new look: Gingham Ruffles And Sandie

    07/12/2017 at 1:19 pm
    • Reply Neti*

      Thanks Sis. I’ll try to enjoy in moderation.

      07/12/2017 at 9:27 pm
  • Reply NERLINE

    The only rum I have tried so far is Barbancourt, a Haitian rum, of course. I’m a red wine girl, but hubby likes rum in his iced tea. Thanks for sharing this story about American rum.

    07/15/2017 at 2:20 am
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