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Why do rums taste so different?

March 2, 2021 - Reading time: 2 minutes

Many rum connoisseurs around the world have a favourite variety or two. Some spend hundreds of euros or dollars on a bottle, others are reluctant to do so. They are convinced that the differences cannot be that great after all. So what is really true? Are there bottles on the market that are so good that they cost four-figure sums? I show which things determine the taste of rum and why some drops actually turn out particularly well.

Why are there better and worse rums?

Basically, rum is made from molasses, which is extracted from sugar cane. Except for rhum agricole, where it is sugar cane syrup. In any case, the type of sugar cane basically determines the aroma. It's like with apples. There are Granny Smiths or Kanzis, and so on. It is the same with sugar cane.

But even within one variety, it depends on how much sun the cane has received, how well the field or garden irrigation has worked, how high the humidity was and much more.

Later, during fermentation, yeast is used. Depending on which variety it is, better and less good aromas are created. Some yeast varieties have been bred for centuries. They produce great aromas and are guarded by distillers like a state secret.

In the distilling process itself, the workmanship makes a difference. Some distillers are so good that they are very precise with the temperatures. Depending on how narrow the window of heat is, certain alcohols are vaporised and others are not.

In the last step, the storage is decisive. Was the rum stored in a steel barrel? As is the case with discount brands and cheap varieties? Or was it in a wooden barrel? And if so, for how long? The longer it was in the wooden barrel, the more it absorbs the high-quality aromas and the better the taste.

Some of these processing steps produce varieties that taste much better than others. They are usually a stroke of luck for the producers. They can be sold as special bottlings at particularly high prices. These are then the so-called single casks. They fetch really proud prices on the market for gourmets.

So you can definitely say that it is not a matter of boasting or snob thinking when people buy such expensive drinks. In the production of rum, there are just numerous factors that change the taste. The more attention is paid to quality in the production process, the better the end result. Depending on the size of your wallet, everyone can follow their preferences.

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