When our editor Gary asked me to write about rum, I happily agreed. How hard can it be, right? Well, when you have experienced, tried, enjoyed and sipped over 80 different rums, from all over the world, it gets quite difficult fast!
There are so many great rums that I am going to limit this article to rums from our region, rums I have already tasted, because it would be quite an undertaking to taste and review all the rums produced in our beloved Caribbean. These are rums produced, consumed and savored by pirates, sailors and landlubbers from
Cuba, in the north, all the way south to Trinidad and Tobago.
It doesn’t matter if you call it Rum, Rhum or Rón you know what I’m talking about; that almost sacred liquid our ancestors have been distilling, smuggling and enjoying for well over 300-years.
We drink rum, or other spirits, for many reasons. We drink it to slake our thirst in the hot Caribbean sun or to celebrate a special occasion. Some drink to forget life’s difficult moments—to forget someone, or ease the pain of a broken heart. Or we simply enjoy its flavor and want to relax to the point where everything is irie. Whatever the reason, there is at least one Caribbean rum for every occasion and then some!
When most people think about Caribbean rums, they think of Bacardi and Captain Morgan, but there is much more to rum than those two well-known and well-advertised brands. The colors, taste and aromas of Caribbean rums vary greatly from island to island, and even within an island by distillery to distillery depending on methods used, barrel type, and age.
Rums can be grouped in many ways: By country of origin, color; age and aroma, etc. I will group the Caribbean rums by color: clear; gold/amber and black/dark. And by flavor: spiced; traditional, and flavored.
Choosing rum is like choosing wine or beer. It is a very personal choice based on your taste, your experiences and the memories of that special place, time and company when you sipped it for the first time.
I have enjoyed rums for the last 30-years and try to keep our sailboat’s bar stocked with several rums from different countries, and of various colors, ages and tastes to offer my guests. For some unknown reason my collection never gets too large. I wonder why? With that in mind here are my choices/recommendations:
Clear rums make the best mixers. They go well with everything from coke; diet coke; sprite; ginger ale and ginger beer to fruit juices such as orange; passion fruit; cranberry; lime and grapefruit. They are an excellent choice for drinks where you don’t desire a strong rum taste. In Puerto Rico we even mix it with coconut milk in our traditional holiday drink called ‘Coquito’. A must-have in any liquor cabinet is Don Q Cristal from Puerto Rico.
My friend and fellow captain, Tito Barbosa, shared his ‘Captain’s Special’ recipe with me at Cayo Icacos a few years ago and I will share it with you because it is awesome! In a tall glass with ice pour Don Q Cristal to taste, pour in your favorite sweetened iced tea and top it with a splash of 7Up, add a squeeze from a fresh orange slice, mix and enjoy.
These are really good for ‘Cuba Libres’ (Rum & Cokes), and ‘Grog’ (rum, lime juice, brown sugar, and hot water in a mug). One of my all-time favorites in this category is of course, Mount Gay Eclipse Rum from Barbados. It tastes awesome, mixes well and the company has done so much for the sport of sailing we should all support them by buying their rum!
Some other favorites from Barbados are R. L. Seale’s – Finest Barbados Rum, and Doorly’s XO, these two are keepers, and both are quite smooth and flavorful, yet affordable on a sailor’s budget! Cuba’s Rón Matusalen Clasico is another of my choices in this category. This is an affordable 10-year-old keeper. Of course, British Navy’s Pusser’s Rum is a must have in every sailor’s bar for the famous ‘Painkiller®’ (Pusser’s Rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and orange juice served on the rocks with fresh nutmeg on top). Two rums from the Dominican Republic made the recommended list: Rón Atlantico and Rón Barcelo Imperial.
Another must try is Saint James Rhum Agricole, from Martinique, this one is quite unique and flavorful, excellent for ‘Ti Punch’… and one of my all-time favorites.
These are the best rums for another of my favorite drinks, the ‘Dark ‘n’ Stormy’ (Ginger Beer, black rum and a wedge of lime). Although the traditional drink is made with Goslings Rum, from Bermuda, it can be made with Caribbean-made rums such as Myers, from Jamaica, or Cruzan Black Strap, made in St. Croix.
In this category Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum, from St Kitts, really stands out. Worth mentioning yet a lot stronger are Trinidad & Tobago’s Kraken, and Jamaica’s Captain Morgan Black (made in the USVIs). All these rums taste great on the rocks, with coke or ginger beer and lime.
I did not provide a ‘best-of’ list because in my opinion all rums mentioned above are worth trying and all offer their own unique characteristics and flavors.
Besides drinks, you can use rum in food recipes, ice cream, sauces and of course rum cake!
I don’t drink often but when I do, I drink rum with diet coke and a twist of lime in a tall glass.
Remember to drink responsibly and don’t drink and jibe … Salud!
Editor’s note: Tony says he wants to hear your recommendations and taste new rums. Email your comments to: [email protected]
Captain Tony Miró is a life-long sailor, photographer and web developer.