Why do I drink aged rum?
Consider this my ode to aged rum.
Merriam-Webster defines distillation as the process of purifying a liquid by successive evaporation and condensation.
Removal through fire and heat, if you will, of all that is not the essence of something.
- Brandy is the purified essence of wine.
- Whiskey is the purified essence of beer.*
And rum? Well, the French call traditional rum, ruhm industrial for a very particular reason.
Rum is made of industrial waste. It is the distilled essence of industrial waste, then.
It’s made from molasses, the waste byproduct of sugar manufacturing. It was the leftover, black soupy crap that gummed up the works of the sugar machines. An annoyance at best.
You couldn’t give the stuff away.
But people discovered that you could ferment it and distill it and get a drink so terrible that it could kill the devil himself, so they called it Kill-Devil.
Later, as all good marketers do, it was re-branded to Rum and it stuck.
Now the rum that most people drink is essentially like moonshine.
It’s only a step or two above the Kill-Devil stuff they made back in the day. However, if you took a barrel that was burned on the inside – to kill bacteria and germs – put rum in that barrel, and then put that barrel on a ship bound for distant lands, it becomes something more.
It ages. It mellows. It becomes the best version of itself.
Crack open a bottle of aged rum and it’s something completely different from its roots.
I drink aged rum because I like how it tastes. And because I imagine I’m a pirate. And because one can drink buckets of the stuff and not have a hangover.
But it’s also because it’s like finding your people.
You like someone initially because of some small connection but as you delve further, you find you’re more similar than different.
I like to think of aged rum like me: Thoroughly American – despite outward appearances – with a sense of history, descended from people no one wanted, bound for distant shores, rough and crude in my youth and better with time.
And, with time, I’m hoping I’ll be better still.
*For some additional reading on rum, pick up a copy of And a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis – it was he who pointed out the Brandy/Whiskey/Rum distinction. Great book and it comes with rum recipes (!)
While you’re at it, pick up a bottle of Cruzan Single-Barrel Rum and have it on the rocks with a thick slice of orange that you partially squeezed into a whiskey glass.
If you close your eyes, you can just about imagine sunnier shores.
Location: about to run to the gym
Mood: finally rested
Music: if you’re right, you’ll agree, here’s coming a better version of me
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