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Last updated: June 19, 2020

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Rum is am alcoholic spirt that is distilled from sugarcane and other of its byproducts, like molasses for example. In either case, the drink is fermented and distilled at very high temperatures. The end result is an alcoholic beverage that is highly appreciated in Canada and around the world. However, rum, for all intents and purposes, is one of the most underrated spirits out there. Think about it, most people will reach for a good whisky for a straight-up sipping drink. Gin gets most of the credit when it comes to a good martini. Tequila and mezcal are also nowadays considered a serious spirit.

Even vodka has the spotlight with ice lounges and complex vodka-based cocktails. But rum; rum tends to be the spirit to which most people don’t give much thought. Sure, it’s great in tropical cocktails, or a basic Cuba-libre but beyond that, rum gets bottom of the shelf treatment. This is a shame, considering it has endured a long and rich history. In some countries, it is actually leading the charge in the luxury spirits category. So, let’s take a look at the more serious side of rum and reconsider the notion that its only for making mojitos and mixing it with Sprite.

Key Facts

  • Rum is a traditionally Caribbean drink. It first appeared on the island of Barbados and since then its history has been linked to the islands of the entire Caribbean Sea. Venezuela, Cuba, Jamaica, and Barbados itself have been major rum producers. Unlike other drinks, it is made from sugarcane, so it is usually sweet.
  • In its most basic form, the rum is typically bottled right away, making a clear product that is only used as a cocktail mix. This product, thanks to its mild flavour, mixes well with other beverages like: Cuba-libre, Mojito, Dark and Stormy, Piña Colada, Mai Tai or Daiquiri, these are all rum based cocktails.
  • On the more sophisticated side, rum can be aged in a barre, like other alcoholic beverages. Usually aged for a minimum of year, but often longer, creating a dark, rich spirit that can be sipped like a whiskey. Normally we’ll be able to see the age of the spirit on the bottle. White rum usually ages between 18 and 36 months, while aged rum can spend up to 7 years in used whisky or bourbon oak barrels.

The best rum products on the Canadian market

Here is a list of the best rum products available to you on the Canadian market. Each one has its own colour and flavour, so make sure inform yourself so that you don’t make a mistake at the time of purchase. Keep in mind that some are more expensive, while others will have a more intense flavour or higher alcohol content. It is up to you to place weight on one quality over another. Nevertheless, we hope this list will help you find the most suitable drink for your taste.

Kraken — Black Spiced Rum

Kraken’s spicy black rum is one of the most special products on the market. This is a rum imported from the Caribbean and aged in oak barrels for a duration of between 12 and 14 months. Thirteen exotic spices are used in its elaboration, among these spices you will find ginger, cinnamon and cloves. This mixture of flavours gives it a very unique and indescribable flavour.

Kraken is named after the kraken, a mythical and legendary giant squid-like sea monster. This dark and intense rum has a wild and mysterious taste. It is the ideal drink for special occasions since it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour that is sure to start a conversation. The design of the bottle is also quite striking — which, together with its flavour, make it a great choice for any rum lover.

 Mount Gay Rum — Extra Old XO

Mount Gay’s roots can be traced back to the processing of Barbadian sugar cane three centuries ago, making it the oldest rum and continually produced spirit in the world. Through centuries of experimentations the blending of single and double distillates has become an art form for Mount Gay Rum — this recipe has been passed down from generations of master blenders to all successors.

This specific variety of the Mount Gay selection is an opulent blend of the finest spirits aged for 8 to 15 years. Where other products from this distillery are floral and fruity, Extra Old blends significantly older barrels of mainly double pot distillates that have rounded these crisper notes into a subtler balance. It exudes the finesse that only time can bring and offers a true taste of paradise from the rum that invented rum.

Flor de Caña Rum — 7 Year Gran Reserva

Flor de Caña is one of the most prestigious brands in the world. Born in Nicaraguan distilleries, this rum has been produced and distributed worldwide since 1890. It is naturally aged at the base of volcanos and it is produces with 100% natural ingredients and a zero sugar content. The product is then distilled up to 5 times until the ideal alcohol content is obtained. Later, it is aged in white oak barrels that were previously used with whisky.

This specific signature blend form the distillery’s super premium collection, is a rum that has conquered even the most demanding palates. It is full-bodied and has a long-lasting taste on the tongue. This mahogany spirit opens with intense notes of dark chocolate. Later, on the palate it leaves shades of honey for a long and smooth finish. It is a delicious rum thought to be enjoyed alone. It’s ideal for your nights.

Diplomatico — Reserva Exclusiva

This is a fabulous Venezuelan dark golden rum. Rich, sweet and fruity, just how we like ’em. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is one of the most awarded rums, with more than 20 awards to its name. This rum is distributed in over 50 countries around the world. It holds the “Ron de Venezuela” DOC and it is recognised as one of the finest rums in the world.

Reseva Exclusiva is an elegant and complex sipping rum. It has been carefully crafted fro the purest sugarcane honeys. It is delicately distilled in ancient copper pot stills and ages in small oak casks for for up to twelve years. Combining a unique body with an excellent balance has made it a reference for rum lovers and connoisseurs thought the world.

Screech – Newfoundland Rum

It may surprise you that Canada has its hand in the makings of world renowned rums. The most well known is Newfoundland’s Screech rum, which is made from a blend of imported Jamaican rum, water from Newfoundland, caramel colour and flavouring. The East Coast spirit has been enjoyed by the locals for centuries.

This Canadian rum, is a true part of the Newfoundland fabric. They even have their own game they play on tourists, being “screeched in.” You go to a pub, they announce your name, you say a nonsense phrase, shoot the screech, kiss a codfish, and then become sworn in as an honorary Newfoundlander.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about rum

Rum is a drink that backed by centuries of history and tradition. It can be a a sweet and very light drink, which combines perfectly with mixers to create cocktails and combinations. There are also reputable distilleries making premium rum, made to be sipped on and enjoyed on its own or on the rocks. To guide your search towards the best rum for you, here is a list of the most frequently asked questions from consumers. Our goal is to help you understand this spirt so you can make the best purchase.

Couple has a drink in bar

The first distillation of rum happened in sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean.
(Source: Iakobchuk : 38559452/ 123rf.com)

What is rum exactly?

In its most basic form, rum is an alcoholic spirit distilled from the remains sugar cane or molasses, either from the raw juice, or most commonly from the refined molasses. These remains must be fermented, the product is then distilled in special copper or stainless steel stills – this results in a product with a high ethanol content. This product is diluted in pure demineralised water to 30-40% ethanol. This rum is typically bottled right away, making a clear product that is often only used as a cocktail mixer.
On the more sophisticated side, there is an optional step that can be taken after distillation. Rum can then be aged in a barrel — usually a used whiskey or bourbon barrel, for a minimum of year, but often longer, creating a dark, rich spirit that can be sipped like a whiskey. This process is generally done using oak barrels already used in brandy, bourbon or whiskey production.

Lord ByronEnglish Poet

“There is nothing, no doubt, that calms the spirit as much as rum and true religion.”

Where is rum made?

Originally, rum appeared on the island of Barbados in 1650. From there it passed to the colonies of the French Antilles and spread throughout the entire Caribbean region. The drink, being cheap and beneficial to health, became popular among sailors. These took this spirt on long voyages back to Europe. Spain was one of the first countries to manufacture it outside of the Americas.

Today, there are rum distilleries in the Caribbean and much of South America. Venezuela, Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Barbados remain large producers, with century-old distilleries. Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Nicaragua or Guyana are also producers. As we showed you on our product ranking, Canada is also involved in distilling this delicious spirit. In Europe however, only Spain has quality rum distilleries.

How is rum made?

Rum is an eau-de-vie made from the juice of pressed sugarcane or molasses. How the fermentation process is done and the ingredients used, as well as the ageing time, are all very important in its manufacture. The finest rums are those made from sugarcane juices, as they contain far fewer impurities. Keep in mind that these products should be fermented using natural yeasts.

The fermentation process produces the alcohol within the spirit. Fermentation usually lasts one night, although there are some products that involve 24 or 36 hours of fermentation. The result is then distilled in copper or stainless steel stills. After distillation, it is then mixed with demineralised water and bottled or placed in oak barrels for ageing.

fresh mojito drink

The Cuban mojito is ideal for hot days at the beach.
(Source: Gojda: 18089896/ 123rf.com)[/caption

Although traditional rum it is usually produced from pressing sugarcane, the reality is that it can actually be made with many other ingredients. Concentrated cane juices are also sometimes used. In some cases molasses is used, which bring forth dark liquids that are very thick and sweet. There are rums in which both molasses and sugarcane juices are mixed.

In addition to these ingredients, natural yeasts, cultivated by the distillers themselves, are also used. These yeasts give different qualities to the rum – the variety in these yeasts will create diverse end products. Spices and fruits are also used in the production of some rums to make them unique. These spirits are usually of higher quality, with very personal flavours. You can find them with nuts, spices and even fruity ingredients.

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Did you know that although it was first made in the Caribbean, rum underwent great changes when it was brought to North America? Even so, the Caribbean continues to be the world’s leading rum producer and exporter.

How many types of rum are there?

There are many types od rums that can be classified by its colour, taste, ageing or provenance. Each type of rum has its own colour, aromas and nuances. Dark rums tend to be sweeter and of higher quality, ideal for drinking alone while whites mix well. Here is a bit more information on the types of rum:
Spiced Rum: Spiced rum works well in festive drinks like eggnog or hot buttered rum, and the flavoured rums, like coconut rum, tend to also fall within the tropical cocktails.

  • Amber Rum: Filtered rum, but without losing all of its colour. It is aged in oak or cherry barrels.
  • Dark Rum: This is unfiltered rum and it has all the brown colour of the sugar.
  • Aged rum: From eau-de-vie and aged for at least one year.
  • Premium Rum: Comes from spirits aged for at least three years. Is fine on its own or in cocktails, like a rum old fashioned.
  • Sweet Rum: As it name may suggest this is a high-sugar rum. Normally, it contains more than 100 grams per litre of sucrose or glucose.
  • Agricultural Rum: These are special products given to rums produced in the French territories of the Caribbean islands. Often aged in oak or cherry barrels.
  • Frosted Rum: The sugar contents reach over-saturation, so it crystallises. Small plant branches are added to the inside of the bottles to support crystallisation.
  • Light Rum: It is a rum distilled in continuous stills, so the consistency of the liquid is more liquid.
  • White Rum: This type has no colour, although it may sometimes have slight yellowish tones. White rum is generally the best use for the aforementioned cocktails, like a great daiquiri or mojito.

Where rum has seen the most growth, and become a strong contender in luxury spirits, has to do with the aged category. Rum has the unique ability to be aged just like a whisky, and the warmer climate that rum producers tend to be located in opens the porousness of the barrels and really lets the spirit soak in all those oaky characteristics.

How is rum drunk?

Rum is an alcoholic beverage that can ideal for mixing and creating refreshing cocktails. Due to its sweet and consistent taste, it mixes very well, standing out in all the layers of the mixture. The higher end products can also be drunk straight or on the rocks. Rum can be the ideal drink for cocktail lovers because of the ease with which it adapts to the flavour pallet it is combined with.

Rum experts say it’s the best drink for the winter season because of its texture and sweet taste. It relaxes the muscles and unburdens the senses, counteracting stress and warming up the body.
side from the dark rum we have from Newfoundland: Screech, rum is drunk in Canada from coast to coast. In some parts it is drunk burned and mixed with coffee.

Winston ChurchillBritish politician

“Don’t talk to me about the naval tradition, it’s just rum, sodomy and whip.”

How can I distinguish a good rum?

It is usually distinguished by the raw materials used during the distillation process. In the French colonies of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, the custom of using sugarcane juice without manipulation is still maintained. This produces a fruity, intense rum with a complex and persistent flavour. These are usually aged in barrels and are strong in flavour and alcohol percentages.

The rums that come from other islands of the Caribbean are elaborated mostly from the molasses of sugarcane. This molasses is obtained by reducing the juice of the sugarcane over heat, until a thick and dark substance is obtained. These rums are aged in casks using the sherry technique. They are softer, younger, sweeter and kinder to senses.

Ingredients for making mojitos (ice cubes, mint leaves, sugar and lime on rustic background)

White rum is ideally consumed with mix drinks or cocktails.
(Source: Klenova : 42120361/123rf.com)

How many categories of rum are there?

It is difficult to divide rum by type or age, as it is produced in many countries and each has its own legal regulations. There is no agreement on the minimum age for creating a standard classification. However, while rum doesn’t have strict classifications like whisky does, there are generally three or four categories of rum you can rely on: white, dark (aged), spiced and flavoured.

Despite the different categories, if you consider the regions in which they are produced, you can say there are three main types of rum. Here is a table with information about the categories of rum that exist:

Hispanic Origin British Origin French Origin
Production Sugarcane and Molasses Sugarcane and Molasses Sugarcane Juice.
Ageing Rearing Systems and breading solera (natural). Rearing Systems and breading solera (natural). Also, static ageing in oak barrels. Static ageing in oak barrels.
Style and flavour Light, dry and sweet rums. Caramel and sugar are added. Dark and strong rums. Sweet and spicy. Spices, caramel and sugar are added. Lighter rums, they stand out for their dry and powerful aroma. Caramel is added.
Category and old age Labeled with a number that represents the age of the ageing process, not that of the rum. Gold rum or Amber (raised in wood) Aged (3 years old)
Regions Peru.
Caribbean
Central America
Venezuela
Spain
Barbados
Bermuda
Belize
Guiana
Guadeloupe.
Haiti
Martinique
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Did you know that in Argentina rum spirits are divided into white, light and extra light. While in Barbados, on the other hand, they are classified as white, overproof and matured.

What other uses does rum have?

Although the myth that any alcoholic beverage can be used to disinfect a wound is true, it is actually not true. When we use a drink of this type as an antiseptic, there are a few things to keep in mind. To clean a wound, the drink must contain at least 35% alcohol or it will not disinfect anything.

Rum contains a high concentration of alcohol, almost always exceeding 40% graduation. The fermentation process makes it an ideal drink to disinfect wounds, so in this case you can use it as a last resort to cleanse a wound. It is also a good blood pressure regulator and a good muscle relaxant.

Purchase Criteria

Next, we’ll discuss a number of criteria you should consider before buying a good rum. If you understand the important factors it will be easier to make a good purchase. Don’t rush, there are many rum products of many and varied qualities available on the market. If you want to choose a quality rum, make sure to follow these criteria:

Origin Denomination

One of the key factors when choosing the best rum on the market is its Denomination of Origin. Much of its taste and quality comes from its origin. Each denomination is elaborated following certain specific processes. The result is rums of very different qualities and flavours.

For example, the denomination of origin Cuba usually produces white rums. These are drier and vanilla flavoured. They are ideal rums for cocktails and mixing. Those of denomination Venezuela are darker and more potent, they tend to be more fruity and spicy. The Bajan rums are dark and spicy, with fruity and sweet touches.

Types

Rum, despite being a sweet spirit, has a very powerful and distinct taste. It is necessary to know how to differentiate between the different types of rum. The taste will often be determined by its origin and by the raw materials with which it has been distilled. Rums made with treated sugar juices are finer because they contain fewer impurities.

We can categorise rum in three big classes: white rum, amber or dark rum and aged rum. As we have mentioned before, white is ideal for cocktails because of its mild and dry flavour. Gold rum has an amber tone thanks to the added caramel. Aged rum is much darker and usually the best quality, with a stronger and more intense flavour. Keep these things in mind and choose the one you like best.

Flavours

White rum has a sweeter taste. This is a drier, softer spirit. It is the ideal base for mixtures and cocktails. This is the rum that is used in Cuba-libres or mojitos and caipirinhas. This is a rum that has a light touch of vanilla, which makes it very kind to the palate. It is ideal for those who are not accustomed to drinking.

Darker rums have more intense flavours. French colony rums are usually very intense, with a high concentration of alcohol — they’re hard rums. Those from Jamaica and Barbados, even though they are also intense, they are more pleasant to the palate. These tend to have fruity and aromatic notes, with spices and hints of caramel.

Alcoholic Boozy Black Russian Cocktail with Vodka and Coffee Liquor

Rum with cola, also known as Cuba-libre is a delicious drink.
(Source: Hofacker: 71349968/123rf.com)

Beneficial health properties

According to studies, rum, in small doses, has beneficial properties for our health. It can help you stay healthy and live longer. In moderation, this alcoholic beverage helps control and lower stress levels and stabilises blood pressure. These qualities are very important in these modern, hectic times.

It has also been shown that, in certain conditions of mood decay and low energy levels, rum serves as a stimulant. It has the ability to improve our mood while also relaxing us. Finally, in certain cultures rum is used to treat colds and to relieve severe sore throats. As you can see, in moderation, it is a very healthy drink.

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Remember to always drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.

Aroma

One of the strong aspects of rum is its aroma. Like good distilled alcoholic beverages, rum contains a host of different nuances and aromas. Young or poor quality rums will have a stronger smell, much more alcoholic than the aged varieties. It’s important that you notice the aroma of a rum to know its quality.

White rums have drier odours. Some have citrus and spicy touches, with very sweet finishes. These rums usually have aromas similar to that of vanilla. The golden and dark rums, on the other hand, have a much more powerful smell. In this case you will find notes and undertones of cloves, fruits such as figs and spices that give them a full body.

Ageing

We all want to get a cheap, good rum. However, what is really important is that it is of a good quality. Rums, like other distilled beverages, owe their special quality and taste to its ageing process. Each brand and each type of rum has a different ageing process, which will directly affect and influence the flavour of the spirit.

Some are aged in new oak or cherry barrels. Other brands use barrels that have been previously used to age brandy, bourbon or whisky. Latin American distilleries often use rearing systems and solar evaporation process such as sherry. The youngest and cheapest rums do not go through this process.

Alcohol content

The alcohol content of a rum product will directly influence its price. The volume of alcohol represents the amount of this ingredient in the entire bottle. You would thing that, the higher the alcohol content, the more intense the taste and effect on the blood. This is not so, since they have been distilled to reduce that flavour.

In the case of rum, the most common graduations range from 40 to 47 percent of alcohol content. These are mostly rums with intense, dry and traditional flavours. They have gone through very rigorous quality processes during distillation. They combine with other sweet ingredients to reduce the taste and make it more pleasant to the palate.

Summary

Rum is a drink with a long standing tradition, and its production has even extended to include Canadian distilleries. However, since it was first made Barbados, it was the Caribbean distilleries that made it popular and have continuously improved its production. Rum has been the traditional drink of pirates and has become the king of cocktails. It is a sweet spirit, dry and perfect to accompany your nights.

Choosing the best rum is very a very personal task. This is a spirit that has been made to enjoy it, so you should choose the one you like best. Follow our shopping guide and take into account factors such as ageing, flavours and aromas. However, don’t forget to consider their provenance and ingredients. Just follow our guide and have fun with the selection process.

If you liked the article, leave a comment with your thoughts or share with your friends and family so they too can buy the best rum available on the Canadian market.

(Featured image source: Monticello: 47231818/123rf.com)

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