When you need a white/silver rum to make a mixed drink, be honest, do you pay much attention to what you select or do you reach for the cheapest bottle on the shelf. After all, it’s getting mixed so why should it matter? It matters if you want to taste more than the sugary soda or fruit juice. Because not all white rums are created equal, you may want more in your cabinet than just one bottle.
The majority of white rums, also known as silvers or light rum use molasses, a byproduct of sugarcane processing. Molasses, water and yeast are combined, allowed to ferment, distilled, cut with water and bottled. A pretty simple process if the goal is to create a light rum for mixing.
There are producers, however, that take the extra step to age the rum in new or slightly charred barrels. Once complete the rum is filtered to take out any impurities and to bring the color back to a clear. The rum may also be blended before bottling.
Producers build character into their whites through the sugarcane used, their filtration process, type of distillation, water used and aging, if any. We liken it to the world of vodka. There are hundreds of vodkas at your local store, created from the same basic recipe but each unique in flavor and in turn purpose. Same goes for white rum.
This month we’re sampling five easily obtainable rums under a $15 price point to see what they “bring to the table.” We’ll taste them neat and give an opinion on what we feel the rum would be best suited for. Next month, we’ll use these same rums in a couple of different cocktails (oh boy) to see if the white rum we use really matters.
A well-known rum from Puerto Rico that many establishments use as their top shelf. We found it very herbaceous and earthy, with some vanilla. Although an aged rum, there’s no depth presented. (Mixer)
Don Q Cristal
Another from Puerto Rico, Don Q is a blend of rums aged up to five years in American White Oak. We found it light, smooth, with hints of oak, herbs and some notes of lemon grass. It sips more like vodka. (Mixer)
Produced by a locally-owned distiller established in 1893 in Barbados. This un-aged rum is light bodied rum with subtle hints of citrus and tropical fruit. No sweetness. (Mixer)
J. Wray & Nephew
By the number one producer of rum in Jamaica, this silver is aged then carbon filtered. The molasses shines with touches of vanilla cream, coconut and banana. Our #1 pick. (Neat or mixed in finer cocktails)
From St. Croix, Cruzan is a blend of rums aged one to four years in American Oak. Offers subtle molasses notes with a buttery consistency and a stronger raw coconut flavor. Close second to Wray. (Neat or mixed in finer cocktails)
About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.