If you’ve been to a bar, there’s a good chance you’ve indulged in spiced rum at some point in your life. This liquor is a staple of commercial and home bars, serving as a great base for mixed drinks or classic cocktails. But what exactly goes into this drink to make it a spirit that patrons request time and time again? Read below to find out.
Early iterations were flavored with vanilla and lime and occasionally a few spices. However, they have evolved over the years to encompass some pretty complex flavor profiles. The spiced rums of today are often flavored with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and allspice, which are mostly native to the Caribbean and Malaysia.
The exact ingredients that go into any given concoction are often kept under wraps. Captain Morgan’s won’t tell you what’s in their ubiquitous spiced rum, but they do offer the knowledge that it contains hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and oak.
These drinks tend to be on the sweeter side, making them a great addition to fall and winter cocktails. That said, it’s possible to find them on the boozier side, like Sailor Jerry’s or Captain Morgan’s 100 proof.
Ultimately, there’s no hard and fast rule dictating how rum should be spiced, but you can expect to find warm undertones like anise and cardamom, as well as hints of fruit in most spiced rums.
Spiced rum is made much the same way as any rum. First, the juice is squeezed from sugar cane plants and then crystallized, leaving a molasses residue. Molasses is responsible for rum’s slightly sweeter flavor when compared to other spirits.
Following the traditional method, the molasses is then fermented with water and yeast before moving to the distillation process. The rum is then left to mature in wood barrels, most commonly oak, before being flavored with herbs and spices.
Spiced rum is distilled around the world, with the climate and soil of a particular area affecting its flavor. Rum from Barbados will taste different from rum from the Dominican, even though the two places are in close proximity and use almost identical distillation methods.
Much like scotch, which is made from a blend of whiskies, this rum is generally made from a mix of different rums, which can come from different regions. The rums are then infused with flavorings that make each of them unique. This process makes it one of the most complex and nuanced liquors out there.
This industry is growing at a breakneck pace, with new variations seemingly hitting the market each day. Spiced rum is evolving to meet various consumer needs, yet it can be challenging to know where to start. With some guidance, you can choose one that is sure to please, no matter how you choose to drink it.
It is difficult to know exactly what a spiced rum can offer just by looking at the bottle. The flavorings typically aren’t listed on the label, so some trial and error is involved. That said, there are a few things to consider before buying any spiced rum.
First, what are you planning to do with the rum? If you intend to make mixed drinks like rum and coke, it’s best to purchase a lower-tier rum. Mixers like sugary sodas can mask much of the flavor in the rum, so you won’t want to squander an expensive rum with overpowering mixers.
Second, do you prefer light or dark rum? How about mild or bold flavors? Choose something like the classic Captain Morgan’s spiced rum if you prefer a lighter, milder rum. If you prefer a bolder flavor, Sailor Jerry’s or Kraken are great starting points. But be warned, both are higher in alcohol content than your standard spiced rum, so you may want to drink them slowly.
Spiced rum makes an excellent addition to both hot and cold drinks. If you’re indulging it in the colder months, try using it as the base for a hot toddy—a drink comprised of hot water, lemon, and a sweetener like sugar or maple syrup.
If you want to play it safe, try mixing the rum with a soda like Coke, Sprite, or Ginger ale. The soda will cut some of the harshness from the alcohol, leaving you with a sweet and refreshing drink that’s quick and easy to make.
If you’re feeling daring, try spiced rum straight. It’s typically gentler on the palate than other spirits like vodka or gin, and drinking it neat or served over ice will allow you to experience the rum’s flavor profile in all its glory.
Last but not least, try adding spiced rum to a classic cocktail recipe. Regular rum serves as the base for many popular cocktails, including daiquiris, caipirinhas, and mojitos, and spiced rum can bring an unexpected but pleasant twist to these classic recipes.
As we’ve discussed, there’s no shortage of things you can do with spiced rum. Whichever one you choose, it’s sure to add depth and complexity to the next cocktail you stir up.