8 countries making the world’s best rum
REPOST: matadornetwork.com by Nick Hines, Sep 10, 2020
RUM CAN BE many things. To some, it’s a clear and nearly tasteless spirit best used in cocktails. To others, it’s deep, intense, and should be sipped and savored, not shot or mixed. Others still think of a liquor that’s spiced, sweetened, or both. When it comes to rum, the styles and flavors are as varied as the many places that make it.
Many of the most famous rums in the world are made in the Caribbean. Sugarcane was introduced to that part of the globe in the late 1400s by Europeans, and it quickly took root. Colonialists started sugar plantations that used forced labor from enslaved people from Africa, and from these sugar plantations came rum.
A few islands and countries in Central and South America became famous for rum, while others remain relatively obscure without a truly defined style. The latter aren’t bad (Paranubes from Mexico, for example, is always worth sipping), but the most well-known rum producing regions reliably put out distinctive spirits that taste of the place they’re made.
The most notable rums are generally split into three styles: Spanish, English, and French. The first two are typically made from the molasses leftover from refining sugar, with English rums known for long fermentation times and funky notes and Spanish rums known for quicker fermentations and a more neutral taste. French style rums (or rhum agricole) commonly use fresh pressed sugarcane juice that results in a vegetal spirit that’s heavily influenced by the terroir of where the sugarcane was grown.
There’s a wide world of rum to sample using these three broad stroke styles as a jumping off point. These are the countries to sample rums from in order to understand all that the spirit can be.
7. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican rum production began in the 17th century with Spanish colonization, but the story of modern Puerto Rican rum is forever tied to the story of Cuban rum. In 1960, when Fidel Castro nationalized Cuba’s rum industry, the Bacardi family was forced to leave the island. They went to nearby Puerto Rico to stay in the rum business, and today, Bacardi is one of the largest rum producers in the world. It’s filled the gap over the past half century for Spanish-style rum after the US banned Cuban imports, and a trademark battle between Cuba’s Havana Club and Bacardi’s Havana Club, which is reportedly made from the same recipe as the Cuban original, has raged for decades.
Though Bacardi is the most well-known Puerto Rican rum, it’s far from the only distillery. Puerto Rico makes around 70 percent of the rum sold in the US, and more than 80 individual rum labels are made on the island. All rums are aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrels, and every style from white rum to spiced rum is produced here. The combination of quantity and quality when it comes to the spirit led to Puerto Rico’s nickname of the Rum Capital of the World.
Rums to try: Ron del Barrillito 3 Stars, Bacardi Havana Club, and Don Q Reserva 7