White rums made from molasses are very popular in bars as they are usually affordable, and can be used to make some great cocktails, such as a daiquiri, mojito, piña colada, Cuba Libre, and Long Island ice tea, just to name a few.
At the very early beginning of our rum journey, we used to buy some of the popular supermarket rum brands, which I am sure you know a few. These rums are typically mass-produced for the consumer markets around the globe, using modern, very efficient and cost-effective industrial multi-column stills. Having learned more about rum since, we tend to avoid buying the above type due to it lacking the real characteristics that come from the traditional methods of rum distillation, which is more of a craft and art than modern automation.
Preferring rums produced on a smaller scale, which is commonly referred to as small batch and/or handcrafted rums, we always try to go for rums produced by brands that are known for the quality of their rum production, such as Appleton, Chairman’s Reserve, Wray & Nephew, Hampden, Rum-bar, Santa Teresa, New Grove, Angostura, Don Q, El Dorado, Botran, Brugal, Doorly’s, Real McCoy, Mount Gay, and Plantation, just to name a few.
Early on in our rumming journey, I remember asking if the white rum in my cocktail was an aged rum and getting a weird look, which made me feel like I asked a silly question. I was actually quite right asking, as there are quite a few aged white rums available on the market. Funnily enough, the rum in that cocktail was the ‘Santa Teresa Claro Rum’, a white/very light rum, which has been aged for around 3 years!
You may or may not have noticed, but most white rums on the market usually don’t have an age statement or mention of ageing on their label. This is not due to the lack of clear information about the rum, which rum, in general, tends to suffer from, but mainly because most white rums are unaged, and aged white rums are more commonly available in specialist spirit stores. Luckily, a number of brands are working on improving the labelling for rums and promoting transparency, which would help the consumer in making an educated decision before buying.
In order to achieve an aged white rum, an aged rum (normally an amber or caramel colour depending on the length of ageing) goes through a special process called charcoal filtering. This method removes the colour gained during ageing and allows the rum to revert to its original light colour. This method also retains some of the deeper flavours (aka “impurities”) from the barrel. The level of filtration varies depending on how clear and flavourful the master blender wants the spirit to be. As this is an expensive process, very few distilleries do this, but the ones that do have a very good value proposition and tend to class their rums as ‘premium’ white rums.
Aged white rums are normally on the younger side and sometimes blended with slightly older rums in order to create a better flavour profile. If an age statement is used, the rum is normally no older than 3 years old. The rum also tends to be bottled at 40% ABV rather than the standard 37.5% ABV, which also helps in producing a more flavourful spirit.
You might be able to find a rum with an age statement older than 3 years, but this is quite rare. One such rum is the ‘Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old‘, a Nicaraguan rum.
The Real McCoy rum, produced by the Foursquare distillery, is aged for a minimum of 3 years and includes its age statement on the front label.
Santa Teresa Claro is a blend of rums aged up to 3 years, and Chairman’s Reserve White Label is a blend of rums aged up to 4 years. The Green Island is a blend of 3 to 5-year-old rums, and the Plantation 3 stars is a bit different as it is a blend of both aged and unaged rums sourced from 3 countries. I guess that due to the rums being a blend, and on the younger side, the producers decided on not using an age statement for the above rums. But the fact that the rums are blends containing aged rums should not be ignored.
Saying that, unaged white rums can be as good, but these tend to be the ones made using pot or traditional copper column stills. One such rum is the St Nicholas Abbey white rum, which is an unaged award-winning premium pot still white rum from Barbados, and one of our favourites
Using an aged white rum in a cocktail, such as a daiquiri, gives the drink another dimension due to the extra flavour created as part of the ageing process. Most good bars will normally have a few aged white rums for you to choose from. We would highly recommend you to visit Rum & Sugar, Trailer Happiness, Burlock and Cottons if you are in London, as they are some of our favourite bars. They are pretty cool bars, which have a large selection of rums and make very good cocktails.
Until next time, keep rumming!