Rum for All is an industry initiative supported by a handful of rum producers. It aims to elevate the category through a series of seminars and tastings. What this means: F Paul Pacult and Sean Ludford travel the country, drinking rum and talking about it with trade, media and enthusiasts. And recently, they swung through our home town. Naturally, we accepted a seat at the table.
Pacult and Ludford kicked things off with a quick history lesson of the sugarcane spirit, from its earliest days to its impact on life in the 15th and 16th centuries to modern-day production. Then, some blind tasting. Each attendee was given 11 unmarked glasses. We swirled, sniffed and sipped, and then guessed what we were drinking. Below, some findings:
Tons of vanilla on the nose. More like baking extract than vanilla beans. But its flavors are surprisingly mild and don’t deliver on the vanilla-heavy promise. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Brugal is highly-regarded amongst bartenders. Interestingly, this one received a lukewarm reception by those sitting near me. Most said it was too mild; some said it was bland. After the reveal, surprise ensued, as Brugal fans realized what they were drinking.
Cruzan Single Barrel
Rich and oaky, yet very balanced and smooth, and not too heavy. It’s full of cinnamon, brown sugar and fruit.
It’s easy to knock Bacardi for its Superior label rum and flavored line. But the brand’s been in the rum business for 150 years, and they do make a handful of interesting expressions. Including Bacardi 8, which attendees enjoyed. Many were surprised to learn that this rich and flavorful rum came from Bacardi.
Ron Zacapa 23
Pretty much liked by all. A few attendees even guessed this one. It’s full-bodied, rich and generally delicious, and is a good candidate for sipping neat.
Ron Diplomatico Reserva
This was our first time tasting this fine Venezuelan rum. It’s blended from pot still rums that have been aged for 12 years. It’s sweet and viscous, with tons of flavor — toasted sugar, butter caramel, vanilla and almonds.
Rum for All calls rum the “most versatile and agreeable spirit on the planet.” It’s hard to argue, but rum certainly doesn’t get the wide-spread praise of whiskey; and the category’s not growing quite like tequila. But still, rum can’t stay dormant for long. From the group —
No other spirit offers such wide appeal to both the novice and expert. Rum is congenial, sophisticated, playful, Tiki, shaken, stirred, or punched. Rum’s days as a bridesmaid are over. With the foundation of Rum For All we have put the drinks world on notice. Rum is no longer “next.” Rum is now!
Photos by Velton Hayworth