Monday, December 18, 2017

Try these rums!

Tasty rumsRum, once a disreputable liquor associated with one-eyed pirates and a little later daiquiri-swilling tourists, is emerging as an elegant beverage to be sipped and savored. When going out this weekend, forget about the usual beer or the typical Cuba or Santo Libre. Instead, tickle your taste buds by trying out some of the fantastic rum brands made here in the Dominican Republic.


A bit of background
Most rum comes from the Caribbean and its environs, with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 varieties in four main categories: clear, amber, dark and flavored. Overproof rum also exists, a rum of 75% or more, and although there are a number of people who swear by it, it’s not recommended unless it’s in the hands of a great bartender, who will be able to make a great Nuclear Daiquiri for example.

Sugarcane fieldsHow is it made
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses (industrial rum), or from sugarcane juice (agricultural rum). The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels. Rum is usually referred to in Spanish by descriptors such as ron viejo ("old rum") and ron añejo ("aged rum").

Different flavors
These distinctive characteristics depend on many factors such as the sugar cane’s quality and origin and whether it was made from molasses or sugar cane juice. Most rum is made from molasses, which contains minerals and other trace elements that contribute to the final flavor. Rums made from cane juice, primarily those from Haiti and Martinique, have a smoother aspect. The yeast type and fermentation speed, as well as the kind of still, also tell. Light-bodied rums are produced in sophisticated multi-column distillation units and have a more delicate rum flavor. Heavy-bodied rums are produced on simpler multi-column distillation units or by means of traditional pot stills. Distillation temperature also matters — the higher the temperature, the lighter the body and more neutral the taste.

Perhaps the most important factor determining quality is the length and type of aging. Rum develops more complexity in small charred oak barrels. Aging in casks also adds a tawny color, although some producers mix in caramel tints. Rum aged for a year or less in stainless steel is clear and has little flavor.

Barcelo ImperialTop Dominican rum brands
The following brands have been voted by various experts as top rums, worthy of being enjoyed, with or without ice. Tickle your taste buds while letting the amber to dark brown liquid warm your insides.

Barceló Imperial. Barceló is one of the main distilleries in the Dominican Republic and its Imperial Rum is elaborated according to traditional techniques. It is aged in oak barrels for eight years and it’s recommended to sip it straight up with a bit of ice and a vanilla bean.


Matusalem 23
Matusalem Gran Reserva 23. Made in the Dominican Republic but according to Cuban tradition, this rum is the fruit of traditional mixing and aging methods known as “solera”, which is principally used in Jerez. It is said to be very fine and creamy, with a base of licorice and overtones of toasted almond and hazelnut.


Brugal 1888
Brugal 1888. Brugal 1888 is a rum that was made to celebrate the birth year of this well-known Dominican distillery. This is an annual limited edition, which combines experience and tradition to today’s tastes.


VizcayaVizcaya Rum. Created by New Yorker Riccardo Giuliano with the help of the Oliver family, a clan with deep roots in the Caribbean rum business, this transnational collaboration may be a modern product, but its complex, refined flavors are the result of time-honored tradition. Distilled in small batches in the agricultural method, Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 is then aged in oak barrels formerly used to hold Bourbon until it achieves a rich mahogany hue. The finished product is said to be extremely smooth, with brown sugar and maple on the nose, and butterscotch on the palate.

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