All you need to know about rum in the Caribbean and much, much, more. 

A Great Example of a Copper Pot Still in St.Lucia.
St.Lucia Distillers has Three Pot Stills.

"The secret to a good rum lies in finding the right blend."

The Rumelier enjoying a glass of rum.
A glass a day keeps the doctor away!
An old sugar plantation boiler fed by bagasse.
Remnants of sugar plantations abound in the Caribbean.

When you think of rum you immediately think of the Caribbean, lying back in a gently swaying hammock and watching the waves crash over the distant coral reef.
The Caribbean has been the home of rum for hundreds of years, from the dark days of slavery and plantations, the pirates and buccaneers, to the present days of mass tourism, air-conditioning and the never ending demand for exotic frozen cocktails.
Rum is the heartbeat of the Caribbean, with all the major islands having their own distilleries or bottling plants. Where Scotland has whisky, France has cognac, California has wine, the Caribbean has rum and they are proud of it. Every island is proud of their rum and the locals of any island will gladly swear on the bible that their rum, rhum or ron is the best.
Whether you are knocking back a shot of overproof in Kingston, sipping a cuba libre in Havana, drinking a pina colada in Old San Juan or just relaxing with an Admiral Rodney in Rodney Bay, you are tasting the blood, sweat and tears of the region.

This rum website hopes to increase your knowledge of rum, with special regard to The Rumelier and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and also to the distilleries and the countries that produce the noble spirit of rum throughout the Caribbean.  It is hoped to include as much information about the different islands from the personal travels of The Rumelier and through his visits to the various distillers and bottlers of rum in the region. This is the true way to gain a flavour of how rum is embedded in the culture of the many different people of the Caribbean.
Mainly it is meant to be informative and fun at the same time, just as drinking rum should be.
So please go and pour yourself a shot of your favourite rum and relax and read the following pages. Check out the Rum Diary page for daily updates on what The Rumelier has been drinking lately. Please fell free to sign the guest book on the last page of the site before you leave and please enjoy these pages responsibly!

Old Rum Barrels in Puebla, Mexico.


Rum, Ron or Rhum?
Wherever you go you will find some varation of rum.


What are you drinking today? Is it rum, ron or rhum? Well it all depends on which country you are in and what language you are speaking.
In English it is rum, in Spanish it is ron and in French it is rhum. But at the end of the day it is usually the same thing.
The exception to this are the French rhums, which are usually distilled from fresh sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses in the English and Spanish speaking countries. The reason goes all the way back to the time of Napoleon who banned the import of sugar from the French Caribbean islands into France in favour of homegrown sugar beet and also to support locally produced liquors and spirits. The owners of the plantations had to find another use for all the sugar cane they were producing. The answer lay in the distillation of rhum agricole from the crushing and distilling of fresh sugar cane juice.
Every distillery no matter what country it is in has their own way, (which is often a closely guarded secret) of fermenting, distilling, ageing and blending their rums. No two distilleries are the same and no two rums are usually the same. There are endless factors that effect the final product, just like making wine. To give a complete list of variable factors would be impossible, but here are just a few of the main reasons why rums vary so much from one to the other:-
There is the variety of cane being grown, the soil they are grown in, the location of the field, the ammount of water the cane gets, the time of harvest, the type of yeast used for fermentation, the length of fermentation, the type of distillation, pot still or column still distillation, repeat distillation, strength of distillation, ageing length, ageing strength, ageing time, type of wood used in ageing, size of barrel, previous use of barrel, type of charring, ageing location, blending strength, final blend, additives used, etc. etc. The list is endless.
No matter what is in your glass, it has usually taken years, often centuries to perfect the final blend.
Rum has been distilled for centuries and some companies have been around just as long. Producing a fine rum can take years of experience. There are many cheap rums around that are often just flavoured neutral spirit disguised as Caribbean "rums", so when shopping for a good rum you often need to do your homework before or after buying the rum to make sure you are getting the real thing.
There are no common laws in the Caribbean region that control the production of rum. Some countries have very strict laws governing rum production, some have none at all. There has been a move to regulate these rules for the whole Caribbean in order for a spirit to legally be deemed rum, but so far this has not materialised. The West Indies Rum and Spirit Producers Association  (WIRSPA) has made attempts to unify the regulations for producing rum in the region by unveiling a "marque of provenance" to support and promote Authentic Caribbean Rum brands. (Shown below) There will be a three-tier classification system, of Authentic Caribbean Rum, Matured Authentic Caribbean Rum and Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum. The Authentic Caribbean Rum will have a black and white version of the marque, the Matured Authentic Caribbean Rum will have a silver and black version, which has been matured for a minimum of a year, while a gold and black deluxe version will be used for the Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum which has to be matured for a minimum of five years.
Hopefully this will begin to standardise rum production in the region and educate more consumers about rum production. Rum producers from 15 different countries have joined this programme so far; Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St.Kitts & Nevis, St.Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Brugal Rums in the Dominican Republic is taking a lead role to establish that there is only one real rum - that which is made from sugar cane. Efforts have been made with the European Union to establish an official definition, and now Dominican rum can be classified under the prestigious label of Denomination of Protected Origin (D.O.P.) as are the products of the region of Champagne, France and tequila from Mexico.
Martinique being a french country has strict laws on rhum production. The rhum must meet certain standards to be given it's AOC or Appellation D'Origine Controlee, just like wines in their motherland.
Hopefully these ageing and production laws will be universal one day. This would benefit the majority of rum lovers, knowing they are getting the real thing every time they drink a glass of rum and not some chemically concocted spirit that will leave its mark the following morning. Those tourist rum punches are usually the main victim for cheap immitation rums and it is a good idea to stay away from them unless you see what is going into the mix.
The one positive note about there being no strict universal rum production laws, is that there is such a variety of rum styles and types available. You can have a heavy treacle like Demerrara rum in one bottle and a light Puerto Rican rum in another bottle, which are totally different in style and taste. This makes rum drinking and collecting very interesting. When buying a new rum you are never sure what you are going to get in the bottle.
The Rumelier recently found a "rum" that was neutral overproof spirit distilled in Brazil, that had been watered down, then had all the flavouring and colour added chemically, then finally labelled as "Caribbean Spiced Rum". To say this tasted bad was an understatement, but obviously the people who were producing it had decided it was going to sell. Fortunately this "rum" did not sell and does not appear to be available anymore!

Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque.


There are many different types of rum available in the world. The Rumelier has tried to break these down into various categories, as shown below. There could be an argument to include French Agricole Rhum in the list below, however, it falls into most of the categories shown already.

1) White or Silver Rum.
2) Gold or Amber Rum.
3) Dark or Navy Rum.
4) Spiced or Flavoured Rum.
5) Overproof or Strong Rum.
6) Rum Creams or Liqueurs.
7) Premium Aged Rums.
8) Cachaca or Brazilian Rum.

White or Silver Rum

White or Silver Rum is the most popular rum for mixing and for cocktails when you don't need a strong flavour of the rum in the drink, reminiscent of vodka. More of a neutral taste. This rum is often unaged, but can be aged up to four years. If it is aged it is carbon filtered to turn it back to it's crystal clear liquid form. All rum comes from the still in a clear form. Often considered light rum in style.

White Rums Are Mainly Used For Mixing.
Most Distilleries Begin with a White Rum as it is Cheaper to Produce.

Gold or Amber Rum

Gold or amber rum is also used as a mixing rum when making a cocktail that requires more flavour from the rum. These rums are usually aged for several years and acquire their colour from years of contact with the oak barrels that they are stored in. There are rums that have caramel added to make them gold or amber in colour. Caramel is also used to give a consistent colour to rums, ensuring that your favourite rum is the same colour every time you buy a bottle.

Gold Rums Have More Flavour Than White Rums.
Gold Rums are Aged for Several Years.

Dark or Navy Rums

These rums are very dark in colour, sometimes called black rums, often looking like the molasses they came from. They are aged in heavily charred barrels. These rums are often called navy style rums, which was issued as a daily "grog" ration in years past to British Navy sailors. The colour of the rum is often gained by artificial means. Rum this dark would have to be aged about fifty years to obtain this colour. This rum will have a strong molasses, treacle flavour and is often used as a "floater" in frozen drinks or cocktails, and are most commonly used in cooking.

Dark or Navy Rums Are Very Dark in Colour.
These Rums Have a Very Strong Flavour.

Spiced or Flavoured Rum

Flavoured rums are usually white or unaged rums that have various fruit flavourings infused in them. These rums are normally bottled at a lower strength than regular rums. They are mainly used in cocktails or as a mixer and come in unlimited flavours. Spiced rums obtain their flavour from the addition of spices and caramel. Most are darker in colour than flavoured rums and are usually based on gold rums.

Spiced and Flavoured Rum Comes in Many Flavours.
Usually They are Weaker Strength Than Regular Rums.

Overproof or Strong Rum

These rums are bottled at a higher strength than most rums and are also usually unaged, and bottled right from the still. They are often drunk as a shooter followed by a glass of water or used as a floater to strengthen a cocktail. They are also often used in cooking and for medicinal purposes.

Overproof Rums Are Popular in the Caribbean.
Often drunk straight followed by a glass of water.

Rum Creams and Liqueurs

Rum creams and liqueurs are not usually classified by most rum experts, but The Rumelier decided to add this category due to their ever increasing popularity.
These are usualy cream based liqueurs that have rum and flavouring added, such as coffee, coconut, banana, etc. They are usually bottled at a weaker strength than regular rums. They are popular with tourists as a souvenir of the Caribbean and usually drunk on the rocks.

Rum Creams Come in Many Flavours.
These rum based drinks are usually weaker than regular rums.

Aged or Premium Rums

These are rums that have been oak aged extensively, for as many as thirty years.
These are the most expensive rums to produce, as so much of the rum is lost to evaporation over the years. Some distilleries get around this by "topping" up barrels with rum of the same age or by using a solera method of ageing, many countries do not allow this practice. These are often boutique brands which sell very aged and carefully produced rums.
Premium rums are considered sipping rums and are normally drank straight, or on the rocks, with a splash of water, like a fine cognac or single malt whisky would be drunk.

Premium Aged Rums Are Drank as a Sipping Rum.
These rums are aged extensively in oak.

Cachaca or Brazilian Rum

Cachaca (kah-sha-sa) comes from Brazil and is often made from fresh sugar cane juice. After distillation the liquid is reduced in strength by adding water and sugar syrup. Not often aged, but when it is, local Brazilian hardwoods such as mahogany are used for making barrels.
Cachaca is one of the biggest selling liquors in the world.

Cachaca is one of the best selling rums worldwide.
This is most often made into the Caipirinha cocktail.
One of the Aging Warehouses at Ron Bermudez.
This is one of the few aging warehouses where barrels are stacked overhead.