Think all rum is sugary rubbish that practically instills a hangover just from glancing at its bottle? Think again; not only is rum one of the most diverse spirits out there — meaning there's a rum that'll please nearly any palate — but it's also cocktail-friendly and packs a lot of bang for its buck, largely due to the misguided assumption that it's all frat-boy fodder. While one could write a book on the nuances of this often overlooked spirit — the excellent Rum: A Global History ($17) comes to mind — let's start with some basics:
- During the 17th century, rum first came to fruition as an accidental byproduct of sugar processing in the West Indies. Sugar plantation slaves quickly discovered its intoxicating benefits. Since then, the production methods have been refined, leaving us with the nuanced spirit available today.
- In the US, rum is defined as a spirit, distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane molasses, or other sugar cane byproducts. It ranges in strength from 40 to 95 percent alcohol by volume.
- Nearly every country in the Western Hemisphere produces a brand of rum, leading to a vast diversity in both flavor profile and price point.