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Issue 74 - Global phenomenon

Whisky Magazine Issue 74
September 2008

 

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Global phenomenon

Travelling around the rum world, Dave introduces us to the various styles.

Distillers, as well we know, use what grows around them and rum is no exception to that rule. So,wherever you find cane growing you'll be pretty sure to find a rum close by.

Its heartland however lies in the Caribbean islands and Central and Latin America. It's this spiritual home which we'll concentrate on here and see how distillers in each of these countries have taken the basic recipe of a distilled molasses/cane juice ‘beer'and put their own spin on things.Although there will be similarities: notes of vanilla, banana, tropical fruits being the most common,there are wider stylistic differences than most people imagine.

Barbados was one of the first, if not the first,Caribbean island to start producing rum in what could be called a commercial fashion. In 1647 a wide-eyed traveler,Richard Ligon unwittingly became the first person to write about the spirit as he described its production.

Rum was soon to change its nature from a second-rate distillate:“a hott hellish and terrble liquor”as one account has it, into a premium spirit.By the 18th century rum punches were a highclass beverage,by the 19th century wine and spirit importers were blending different rums to make their own brands, years before it would happen with Scotch.

As far as Barbados is concerned, today there are three distilleries: West Indies Rum Distillery (home to Cockspur and provider of base spirit for Malibu),Mount Gay (producer of the eponymous brand and a new triple distilled pot still rum Mount...

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