We often get asked how to choose a bottle of rum based on what the information on the labels means.
Let’s look at some labels:
You can see the XO on the bottle, unlike Cognac where an XO can only be used if the brandy is a minimum of six and a half years, there is no rule as to howold a rum must be. It depends on the brand. The Doorly’s XO is in fact six years old whereas a Ron Zacapa XO is age stated as 25, however, more about that later.
The label also tells us that this rum has been finished on an Olorosso sherry cask, which will add dried fruit characteristics.
Here’s a bottle of Dictador Amber rum.
As usual you can see the country of origin, in this case Columbia. The label also states that the rum is aged for 100 months, (around eight years and three months). However, like many rums, including the Ron Zacapa XO mentioned above, Dictador use a solera system, they describe this as “decanted by gravity”.
In a solera system, the rum is drawn from the bottom of a sequence of casks, which is then topped up each year, with rum from the cask above. In the case of Dictador, this bottom cask would be have been laid down for a minimum of eight years old, but is gradually mixed with younger rum from above. The youngest cask would be at the top of the pile.
Next up we have Rhum Clement 10 years
Why the “H” in Rhum? As you will see this is a French product from Martinique. French Rhums are traditionally Rhum Agricole which is rum distilled from the fresh sugar cane juice rather than standard rum which is distilled using molasses or sugar syrup. If you see Rhum Traditional it is a French rum, but has been made in the same way as a standard rum.
And what about the 10 years? Well, Martinique falls under the jurisdiction of the USA and like Scotch this means that the youngest rum in the bottle has to have been aged in wood for a minimum of, in this case 10 years.
Navy rum was traditionally distributed as a morning tot to sailors in the British Navy. Made to an admiralty “recipe” it contained rums from several different countries, mainly in the caribbean. As you can see on the label, it clearly states “imported” and “produce of the Caribbean”. In fact Lamb’s Navy rum is a blend of no fewer than 18 superior rums from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana.
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