The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor." - from a 1651 document from Barbados. This is one of the earliest references of rum, a drink that circulates through history playing witness to civil wars, slavery, scientific discoveries and revolution. Originally a tropical alcohol, rum is now one of the most popular hard liquors world over.


Unlike some other spirits, rum does not have a defined universal method of manufacturing. Instead, production of rum is decided traditionally from region to region. Broadly, the steps in manufacturing may be detailed as follows.
Most rums around the world are made from molasses, the byproduct of extracting sugar from sugarcane. In some regions, sugarcane juice itself is used as the base ingredient, especially the French speaking islands of the Caribbean. The base ingredient is fermented with yeast and water. Specific strains of yeast are used to add specific flavors to the end product. Apart from the overbearing taste of the base ingredient, the most influential taste altering ingredient in the mix is the yeast. Like most aspects of rum production, there is no standard method of distillation. However, traditionally rum is distilled in pot stills or column stills. Pot stills are known to produces fuller tasting rums. Aging and blending is the final process of manufacturing. The aging is commonly done in bourbon casks, however may also be performed in wooden casks or stainless steel tanks in scaled up manufacturing. When aged in oak casks, the rum gets a dark color, whereas, rum aged in stainless steel tanks are virtually colorless. The aging of rum is usually much quicker than scotches or whiskey owing mainly to the tropical climates it's largely produced in.

Nutrition Facts

Like most hard alcohols, rum is healthy in moderation. Congeners, the toxic chemicals formed during fermentation, are toxins that lead to headaches and hangover symptoms.
They are more in concentration in dark rums as opposed to light ones. In moderation, rum has a number of health benefits like lowering chances of heart disease and blood pressure. Studies have even shown a 38% lower risk of kidney cancers, and benefits in prevention of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and thyroid cancers. Overconsumption has also been related to other cancers such as breast cancer.

Types of Rum

Variations and grades of rum may be classified based on location of production, base Ingredient or aging method. Popular categories of rum include:
Dark Rums: Set apart by its color, dark rums may be graded as brown, black or red rums. They are usually made from caramelized sugar or molasses as base ingredient and aged longer in heavily charred barrels. Dark rums are the most used rums in cooking.
Flavored Rums: Flavored rums are infused with fruity flavors like banana, orange, apple, lime etc. These are very popular tropical drinks that are generally less that 40% alcohol by volume and enjoyed neat.
Gold Rums: Gold or Amber rums are medium boiled aged rums. They are aged usually in charred oak barrels that give it a fuller color and taste as compared to light rums.
Light Rums: Light, silver or white rums have very little flavor apart from the original sugarcane sweetness. They are sometimes filtered after aging to remove color, or may be aged in stainless steel tanks. The milder flavor make these rums a popular base for cocktails.
Over proof Rums: These are rums that have a much higher alcohol content than the standard 40% ABV, sometimes exceeding to even 75% ABV. They are usually used in mixed drinks.
Premium Rums: Similar to other sipping spirits such as Cognac and Scotch, these rums are carefully distilled and aged to give a desired taste and texture and sold by boutique brands. They have more character and flavor and therefore are generally consumed neat or on the rocks.
Spiced Rums: Generally based on gold rums, spiced rums have added flavor that makes them look Darker. The flavors are obtained through addition of spices or sometimes even caramel. Cinnamon, rosemary, aniseed and pepper are the popular flavors.
Preferred Brands In India
Old Monk: Undoubtedly, the most celebrated rum, if not drink, in India, Old Monk is manufactured by Mohan Meakin Ltd. Dark brown in color with a slight vanilla flavor, the brand that comes encased in an arty square latticed bottle has triumphed with zero advertising. It contains 40% ABV and has a significant price point advantage for its quality. Old Monk has 7 years aged and a 12 years aged varieties available in the market.
Bacardi: Although it enjoys only a niche market in the country, Bacardi rums are one of the preferred brands in the urban centers. Bacardi rum had three main flavors based on hue and grade: Bacardi Select which is dark, Bacardi Gold which is amber, and Bacardi Superior which is White Rum. Bacardi rum also comes in interesting flavors such as Lemon, Orange, Raspberry, Apple and Dragon Berry based on white rum. With an alcohol content of 42.8% ABV Bacardi is positioned as a premium product that is seen as upscale and elite.
Captain Morgan: Marketed in India by Diageo, Captain Morgan is a popular spiced rum, known world over for its unique flavors. However Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum and Captain Morgan Black Jamaica Rum are the only variants available in India. Priced at Rs. 780/- for a 750 ml bottle, it falls in the mid-range category.
McDowell's No. 1: McDowell's No. 1 Celebration Rum is regarded as the best rum brand in India since 2008 having won various national and international awards. Produced by the UB Group, this is a popular dark rum with a distinctive caramel and vanilla flavor. It is positioned as an inexpensive brand for the ecclesiastical taste.
Contessa: Contessa, produced by the house of Radico Khaitan, is the only rum in India that produced from cane juice spirit. It has a good following in the northern Indian states and has a large market share in the defense segment. With a slight raisin tone, the spirit has been awarded the silver medal at Monde Selection 2008 for its taste. It is an inexpensive and tasty drink that has somehow not caught the attention of Indian drinkers as much as it should have.


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