Welcome to the culture of the spirit presented by Peninsula Drinks and Food.
Every month we will bring you information about spirits, liqueurs and cocktails. This page is more like a manual on enjoying the brands you have already purchased or will purchase soon at our Peninsula liquor shops across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
Some of the best ways to enjoy spirits is to create a cocktail for yourself or a group. In an ideal world, when having cocktails at a bar or home is an opportunity to unwind and have fun. So in this first blog, we will introduce you to RUM.
In choosing rum for cocktails or just neat with ice, we typically start with a specific style of rum, asking ourselves which flavour profile will be appropriate with the cocktail’s other ingredients. Unless for a cocktail that calls for an aged rum (such as a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned), we typically start with an unaged rum and layer in aged rum to add complexity to the taste notes and to benefit the recipe.
Rum is made from sugarcane in various forms, ranging from fresh-pressed sugarcane juice to molasses, the by-product of making refined sugar.
Rums hail predominately from the Caribbean, though excellent rums are made worldwide, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Asia, and the continental United States.
Spanish: A lighter style, typically distilled from molasses and filtered to remove the fiery personality of the molasses-based distillate. Many of the rums made in Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador are made in this style.
English: A more decadent style, often distilled from Demerara sugar. Predominant in the former Caribbean colonies and present-day territories of the United Kingdom.
Jamaican: Also known as “navy” rum, Jamaican rum is always made in pot stills, which gives it both richness and its telltale funky complexity.
French: Also known as rhum agricole, French-style rums are distilled from freshly pressed sugarcane juice (rather than the by-product of the sugar refining process, molasses), which yields a distinctly grassy and earthy flavour profile. Rhum Agricole is produced mainly in the French Caribbean, especially Martinique. Haiti has its particular styles of rhum, from lighter versions to the funky, indigenous Clairin style.
Although most rum consumed is in a clear form (some unaged, others aged and then stripped of their colour through heavy filtration), the world of aged rum is a vast and diverse one, with producers employing ageing techniques of various styles (used French or American oak, solera barrels for ageing) and often blending multiple approaches to create complex bottlings. As with other spirits, the addition of wood ageing concentrates the flavour of the rum and changes its colour.
A bottle of rum is a reflection of a style. It might be aged or unaged, light or funky, grassy or buttery. Given the wide variety of rums, when we see recipes that call for “rum,” this is too generic.
In these experiments, we want to open your eyes to rum’s diversity and show you how different styles are appropriate for other uses. We could use any number of rum types with every gradation of ageing. Still, for this exercise, we’ll focus on white rum, spiced rum and some aged rum and then explore different age categories: first, white rum and spiced rum (such as Bacoo rum from Dominican Republic, Bocatheva from Panama or Botafogo Spiced from Trinidad and Tobago): then aged rum (such as Ratu and Bati from Fiji, Diplomático Reserva from Venezuela, or Ron Zacapa from Guatemala). The goal here is contrast: a white and spiced rum (whether unaged or aged, then stripped of colour) against one with enough time in oak to develop a richer profile.
We’ve never met a mojito we didn’t like; this experiment is different. And trust us, not many drinks taste better during summertime in Abu Dhabi than a good mojito. The mojito made with white or spiced rum is the mojito of our summertime dreams, a crusher that will be consumed within minutes. The focus of the cocktail is the lime and mint, with the rum acting as more of a foundation. Though its mild grassiness is noticeable, the Peninsula shop’s rum selection brings richness, allowing the fresh ingredients to shine.
The woody character of the aged rum doesn’t wreck the mojito, but it does change the cocktail’s focus from the lime and mint’s freshness to the rum’s density. The cocktail is still refreshing but has taken on a more complex flavour. In this way, the ageing has seasoned the cocktail.
From this information, we hope you tasted how the degree of age and complexity in a rum would significantly impact how it interacts with other flavours. When a cocktail focuses on fresh, herbal flavours (like a mojito), we lean toward the lighter styles of rums. When our cocktail gets a bit denser or includes powerful ingredients, for example, Amari or rich, darker syrups, we’ll grab an aged rum.
One of your favourite rum from Peninsula shop, measuring cup, cocktail shaker set or just a 500ml jag with a screwcap, muddler, crushed ice, old-fashioned double glass (glass for whiskey) or highball glass (tall and narrow), bar spoon or any long spoon with a long and narrow shape, straws.