Friday, September 27, 2013

Speaking of Rum, Sugar, Food and Stuff

I can't tell you how many times I pour a sample of rum for someone and they say, "It isn't sweet. I thought all rums were so sweet." Well, Grasshopper, while Rum is made from sugar (or sugar like sources - molasses, cane juice etc. I have heard of Sugar Beet juice being used as well as Sorghum. The latter I have tasted and found it makes a damned good rum, although legally they can CALL it Rum, Mississippi River Distilling does a great job. They have a variety of spirits and Rum is only a Seasonal, not even all-the-time offering, so I feel pretty lucky to have a bottle!

Rum, when it is thoroughly distilled, has no discernible sugar in it. I often talk about a sweetness or a molasses flavor, even a sugar, burnt sugar tang. Well, I'm lying.
Kidding. It's hard to describe but sweet is a flavor as well as a state of being. Most of the time the sweetness is an after-taste or develops in the mouth long after you'd detect actual sugar. Smell also plays a part. Many aged rums have some of the sweetest aromas. Using Richland Rum as an example -- You pop the cork on this rum and the room is filled with so much butterscotch, caramel perfume that you'd think the liquid would be sweet enough to make your cavities ache. Wrong. I'd compare the flavor to many aged spirits coming from a barrel, smokey, floral, crispness and -- a sweetness that rum only can claim -- but as an aftertaste like your tongue recalls the root of that aroma, Cane Juice.
When all is said and done. Rum can taste sweet, but only if sugar (or any sweetener) is added after distillation. Yes some distiller do add it and sometimes the sweetness IS tasted that way. Adding sweetener is not a bad thing, it is just like adding seasoning to a dish. It is an additive (albeit a very natural one) but added by desire from the distiller.
The biggest reason why most people think Rum is sweet is because a majority of drink made with rum tend to be sweet. Also, the addition to sweet mixes seems to fire up or almost multiply the sweetness of a rum flavor. For instance, many dark rums lose much, if not all of their caramel flavor. When added to a sweet mix of say... cola; which is caramel flavor based -- BINGO it multiplies that same caramel flavor (really try this. its fun). Putting a Coffee infused Rum into say a Piña Colada invents a totally different drink! The coffee suddenly morphs (partially) into having a chocolate undertone! The sweetness of the drink actually diminishes a bit and subtler, deeper flavors leap out.
So, don't be afraid of rum if you fear sweetness. In fact, Rum in most cases has less calories that many spirits save vodka...

Til Next time..
Oh -- Look for my blog on Rum and Food pairings. I am headed out to a tasting Friday -- so you should hear all about it - NEXT WEEK!

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