The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2016

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Page 98 of 108

98  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2016 Rum is a dynamic and diverse spirit with a "fun in the sun" image. They are made in exotic —and not so exotic— places and are bottled in a broad range of styles, from clear and light-bodied to mature and full-flavored. Rum is a spirit that adapts well to barrel aging, and unlike vodka, rums are graced with brilliant hues and captivating aromas. Its approachable taste profile means that there's no learning curve neces- sary to enjoy rum. According to winemaker and distiller Robert Bartlett of Spirits of Maine Distillery, makers of Rusticator Rum, "One of the great aspects of making rum is its basic definition by the TTB—spe- cifically, that it must be made from cane sugar or its byproducts. This leaves a lot of room for creativity in how it's aged—or not. So the distiller can paint with a large palette of colors and styles. I think [rum's] history and romance and its diversity of use, with flavors inherent in the spirit and not added, make for a very flavorful future." The shared attributes that put rums on the map are their mixability and universally popular flavor. Storied author and rum aficionado Don the Beachcomber said on repeated occa- sions, "What one rum can't do, three rums can." Premium rums have a taste and aroma that lifts them head and shoul- ders above most other light liquors when it comes to drink-making. Rum brings with it an attitude of fun, relaxation and enjoyment. It has an easy-going, laid-back persona that most everyone can relate to. Another propelling force in rum's climb to stardom is the American consumer's continuing education into the differences among the various spirits. Enthusiasts and aficionados are becoming more knowledgeable about rum, better understanding the nuances among different appellations and qual- ity factors, such as methods of distilla- tion, water source and aging styles. Equally attractive is the heat and humidity of Central America and the Caribbean basin, plus the aggressive interaction between rum and wood, which combine to cause it to age faster there than in, say, Europe. Rums barrel-aged for 12, 18 or 21 years cost half of what a comparably aged single malt or alembic brandy would. RUM by Robert Plotkin OUT ON TOP LUXURY RUMS HEAT UP THE AUTUMN MONTHS

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