Well here it is: our first Uncommon Caribbean Month of Rum. All this month, we’re covering our favorite spirit from all angles. Expect videos, photos, interviews, reviews and more. But so far, the big news is our VIP RumFest Escape sweepstakes we announced yesterday. The excitement around the two VIP passes to the 2012 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and $500 in travel cash has been spreading fast and furiously.
Haven’t entered yet? Stop reading this and enter, already!
I can wait…
OK, all good with the entry?
Now you wait.
Unfortunately, the winner (it could be you!) won’t be drawn until March 1st. So sorry, but when it comes to rum, good things come to those who wait — in fact waiting, or in this case, aging is one of the most important aspects of rum production.
Initially upon distillation, rum is a clear beast of an alcohol you’d be hard-pressed to enjoy even a sip of. (Even more so than this strong killdevil.) It takes aging in barrels to produce the dark, smooth, magic elixir we love to love.
Sure it sounds simple, but things quickly get complicated when you consider that there’s no overarching rule when it comes to aging rum. Large barrel? Small barrel? Huge vats? American Oak? French Oak? Aging at sea level? How about high in the mountains? In the hot, humid Caribbean? In the cool, damn Scottish highlands? And don’t even get me started on solera aging… Anything goes!
That said, there is some standardization in the rum world: most rum is aged in used bourbon barrels. This is thanks to an unexpected side-effect of The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (yes, this exists) cooked up back in the early 1960’s. You see, some patriotic fat-cats in Washington created a law stating that bourbon is a “distinctive product of the United States” and “must be aged in new, charred oak aging barrels.” And just like that, the American bourbon industry was outlawed from reusing their barrels. Suddenly lots of cheep, lightly used oak barrels were up for grabs and rum producers were (and still are) more than happy to snatch them up!
Anyway, regardless of how you wait, when it comes to rum, waiting is undoubtably a good thing. So, this week we pay homage to that patience with a shot of rum barrels at the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. They’ll probably be aging on those shelves a lot longer than we’ll be waiting to name a winner of our giveaway, their contents growing more smooth, picking up hints of vanilla and caramel everyday.
Download it now and wait… Perhaps you’ll even have a sweet victory at the end of the month!