It’s hard to think about rum without thinking of being on a beach. Somewhere tropical sipping an umbrella drink, or a mojito, but let’s go a step beyond that.
Rum’s rich history began in the 17th century. Sugar farmers in the Caribbean had a sticky mess when making cane sugar. The sugar’s by-product, molasses. was difficult to dispose of and became a large source of industrial waste. It was wreaking havoc on the farms and plantations working with sugar cane. After years of dealing with this mess, someone figured out how to make a spirit out of the molasses. While also using the free-run liquid leftovers from making sugar. Today distilleries around the world process. Over 80 countries are making it today.
While it got its start in the Caribbean, it wasn’t long before other’s got the idea about making rum. Soon places like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama among others jumped on board. Today we have hundreds of choices when it comes to rum. That is where your palate comes in.
There are different grades of rum. Dramatic variances of quality, price, and drinkability. If you want the very best you have to seek it out. It’s much like wine. You can’t get the best in the grocery store. On the shelves sit rows and rows of rum. These bottles came from industrial-scale facilities. who have bought or “own” shelf space in the store. Often times these brands may misrepresent the age of rum, or single barrel. Another layer of complexity to finding decent rum is the fact that many brands add sugar to their rum. It is legal to do this and they do not have to disclose it to you. Nor do they have to put a remark about said additives on the label.
The price of Rum depends as much on the complexity of the process as it does the type of aging and quality of materials involved.
White. This style is one that you might’ve had with umbrella drinks on some blazing hot tropical beach. It’s light, and you don’t have to think much when imbibing. White Rum is often used to make mixed rum drinks. The aging time depends on the climate. It will almost always age in stainless steel. Three months in warm climates, up to a year in cool climates.
A light amber hue is standard for a golden rum. The color comes from the barrel it was in. Sometimes makers will add caramel coloring to correct the color or make it appear ‘aged’. Some aged rum will be charcoal filtered to remove its color and bottled that way. Aged rum has more intensity and depth. While a gold rum will appear smoother and a bit more interesting than its white counterpart. Aged Rum is the category that Ultra Premium Rum most often appears in.
Dark. This rum will go through two-three distillations each becoming darker than the first. The third distillation will give it a deep, more complex taste.
Spiced or Flavored. Here’s where the flavor profile changes for those who have a sweet tooth. Both come from molasses or cane sugar syrup. The flavor gets added before the final product is complete.
The hues vary from ultra-clear to deep mahagony colors. The most delightful sipping rums are the ultra-premium aged rums. Ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to as much as $14,000 ultra-premium rums are on the high end of the scale.
You may think the process with tasting rum is different from other alcohol. It’s not that different from wine. Best to taste in a wine glass so you can take in the aromas and like wine swirl and take in what is in your glass. Begin with a clear palate. It’s best not to consume anything before you taste. Next, take in the initial aromas. Not by sticking your nose in the glass but by hovering a bit over the rim. Note the aromas that come to you. You can sip it immediately but I like to leave mine out for up to 30 minutes. The smell of alcohol will dissipate and you will get the beautiful scents that make up a distinctive rum. Before tasting, hold the glass against a snowy white background like a piece of paper. If you see green or dark caramel hues on the rim this is the most notable trait of well-aged rums.
Arôme28 Rum’s owner, Andrew Troyer invited me to taste and review his Ultra Premium rum. The Arome in French means perfume. The 28 refers to the number of years his rum has aged in barrel.
Troyer: ARÔME 28 was expertly crafted by the hands of a rum master who dedicated his life to rum making. With over 50 years of experience, and roots going back to Cuba where he was Director of Research and Development for The Cuban Beverage Industry, the rum master brings the highest level of expertise to the creation of ARÔME 28. Rum ARÔME, French for Aroma, is appropriately named for the rum master’s skill and experience of blending using the aroma as his guide. The rum master’s roots and training in Cuban rum distillation are the foundation for the entire process involved in creating Rum ARÔME in the traditional orthodox Cuban style. He continues to be a highly respected and sought-after rum expert while he operates his distillery in Panama. As the Rum Master for ARÔME 28, he is responsible for every step of the rum-making process. This guardian of the spirit selects the best from the estate-grown sugar cane and follows the aging process until the day the rum is bottled.
Troyer: It all started with a question, “Where are all the really amazing sipping rums?” I could go to my most any great bar and find a variety of exceptional Bourbon, Whisky, and Scotch, but could not find a truly exceptional sipping rum. I wanted to create something special when I set out to produce ARÔME 28. I dove headfirst into the rabbit hole and knew that whatever I created, it needed to be unique, but most of all, it had to be a truly exquisite rum that would fit all the key components I was looking for.
Troyer: I find that making a truly unique rum comes down to the basics, taste, presentation, and experience. It must first be blended and produced to be a truly enjoyable sipping experience.
The aroma of this rum should cause cravings. The rum should be smooth, refined, slightly buttery, nutty, and offer a sweetness not found in Scotch or Bourbon. If the mood strikes, a single ice cube can be used to slightly cool the ‘fiery spirit’ while enhancing the experience. The rum should be enjoyed while sipping, possibly paired with a favorite cigar, enhanced by fine foods, and enjoyed during fellowship with friends new and old without ever asking for anything else in his glass. To accomplish all this is no simple task. It took me many years to find the ideal rum reserve, connect with the ideal expert rum master, perfect the blend, design all aspects of the bottle and packaging, and finish producing what I envisioned.
Troyer: ARÔME 28 was barreled in former Kentucky bourbon white oak casks. Freshly used casks give the rum great depth of flavor in the aging process. During the aging process, the rum is closely monitored and tested over time. If the barrel gives off too strong or too weak of bourbon characteristics the rum is used for other purposes such as a base in another blend. It is only those barrels that have just the perfect melody and characteristics that continue aging. As you can imagine, very few reach the 28-year mark.
Troyer: A true age statement would be the first thing to look for. The rum market relies heavily on a process called “Solera”. Simply put, it is a process of blending multiple ages of rum. The age statement on a solera rum reflects the oldest rum in the blend, no matter how little of this rum is actually used in the blend, with no regulation. *ARÔME 28 uses a true age statement, just as other respected spirits such as scotch, bourbon, and whiskey would do. The youngest rum in the ARÔME 28 blend is applied to the age statement. This is key in finding a fine rum and knowing the value of what you are buying. There are many opinions on ideal taste, I think we have the best tasting rum on the market, it is not overly sweet but offers a complex taste and can be enjoyed with nothing added. I think that is a great marker of a superior sipping rum. One doesn’t need an ice cube, juice, or soda, although if that is one’s preference it could be added and enjoyed.
Troyer: I believed that the presentation should complement the refined and distinctive rum inside the bottle, and so the creation of the bottle design, gift box, and even the label required a high level of attention to detail, an eye for contemporary design, and persistence. It was a work of passion that took several years to complete to produce a product I could be proud of and stand behind.
The name was selected as an homage to the rum master and his technique for blending the perfect rum. Through his many years of experience, he has developed the expertise to blend the rum-based on the aromas to create the perfect tasting blend. With over 50 years of experience both studying and producing rum, his expertise as a rum master has made him an icon in the industry.
The creation of ARÔME 28 begins with the rich soils of Panama where sugar cane is grown and harvested in the tropical climate. ARÔME 28 rum is made from hand-cut, estate-grown sugar cane. The rum is distilled, aged, and bottled at the estate in Panama, overseen by the rum master. The distillery, Las Cabras, originally established in 1912, narrowly survived the tumultuous times of the 1900s and is still today producing rum.
What makes Rum ARÔME 28 unique is not as much the fact that it is from Panama, but the traditional orthodox Cuban style distilling and blending which the rum master spent decades perfecting. A strict Carta Blanca procedure was used for aging, no solera system, or other “tricky” aging methods used. The casks were kept in the proprietary Panamanian aging warehouse. The years slowly passed by and the magic of that tropical climate naturally matured the rum as all the flavors and aromas coalesce from the cask. The main difference between Cuban style rums and other rums is that it aims to produce a more refined, more elegant product.
The first thing I notice about the AROME 28 is the delicate nature of the nose. For most spirits, there is often an initial heat that comes to you. This I left 30 minutes to take full advantage of its nuances and capabilities. On the nose, there are notes of butter, vanilla, and toffee. It’s elegant, actually quite beautiful on the palate. I taste a bit of smoke, some caramel and it is as smooth as glass. Long and luxurious the finish is an exquisite finale to an intriguing 28-year aged rum. I’ve tasted aged rums before but none with this level of balance, and beauty.
Not trusting my wine palate 100% with rum, I shared the rum given to me by ARÔME RUM twice with a bunch of my Napa friends. Once at dinner and once casually after cocktails. While they didn’t want to appear in this piece they each thoroughly enjoyed!
It is so good it took home double gold in 2018 from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Luxury Rum: The Hot Ultra Premium Pour in Spirits. You can reach the people at ARÔME by going to their website www.rumarome.com or stopping by Napa’s Bounty Hunter Wine and Spirits. Curious about the Secrets of High Quality Tequila?
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