August is National Rum Month, which means it’s time to conjure up dreams of swaying palm trees, warm ocean breezes and the lore of long-lost pirate ships.
Made from a by-product of sugar cane, rum has 17th-century roots in the Caribbean islands as well as Southeast Asia. During the sugar-making process, “waste” molasses was produced, and when mixed with water and left in the sun, it fermented. This happy accident led to the development of a flavorful spirit surrounded by history and legend. Nowadays, countries all around the world, including the United States, have bragging rights to their own brands of rum.
All rums are clear, colorless spirits when they come out of the still, and barrel aging or the addition of caramel determine their final color and flavor. There are three main classifications of rum: white, golden and dark. White rum, also called “light” or “silver,” is usually clear and has subtle flavors that blend well with fruit flavors. Classic drinks such as the Daiquiri, Piña Colada and Mojito are typically made with light rum. Golden rums are medium-bodied and have been aged six months to several years in oak casks, which give them a smooth, mellow flavor. Enjoy these on the rocks or in warm drinks. Dark rums are full-bodied, rich and have been aged in oak casks for two to four years or more. These can be savored on their own or used in Planter’s Punch.
Flavored rums come in a selection of fruit flavors such as coconut, pineapple, mango, banana, lime, raspberry, vanilla and more. These make delicious drinks served on the rocks, with tonic, mixed with fruit juices or, for a twist, used as part of your favorite cocktails. And spiced rums, which can be white, golden or dark, provide a flavorful spirit infused with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.