Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rum Thoughts

I recently finished reading -- and enjoying -- And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. It's just what it sounds like. Each chapter is named after a rum drink, from kill-devil through the mojito, each drink representing an era of our history. Lots of fun for fans of history, economics, and strong drink. I won't offer a full review, but I wanted to post a couple of my favorite passages before passing the book on to a friend. On how rum is made:
Distillation concentrates and intensifies the subtle tastes found in the original low-alcohol product. Brandy has thus been called the distilled essence of wine, and whiskey the distilled essence of beer.

And rum? It is, as we shall see, the distilled essence of fermented industrial waste.
And on rum's distinctly American qualities:
Bourbon fanciers, who often claim for their tipple the title of "America's spirit," drink one of the most regulated spirits known. To be labeled bourbon, it has to be made with a certain percentage of corn and aged in a certain kind of barrel. But excessive regulation is not the spirit of America. Unrestricted experimentation is. Rum embodies America's laissez-faire attitude: It is whatever it wants to be. There have never been strict guidelines for making it. There's no international oversight board, and its taste and production varies widely, leaving the market to sort out favorites. If sugarcane or its by-products are involved in the distillation process, you can call it rum. Rum is the melting pot of spirits -- the only liquor available in clear, amber, and black variations.


Anonymous said...

"...its taste and production varies widely, leaving the market to sort out favorites"
that's why I love rum :)
that's why it's better than brandy, cognac, or whiskey.

jimbino said...

And cacha├ža, the aguadente of Brazil, is even more varied. And here in Rio it costs only $2.50 a bottle and less than 50 cents a shot on the street.