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How to appreciate rum, the underappreciated spirit

by kenya-tribune
In a world where we are spoilt for choice in spirits, rum stands out as one of the most underappreciated drinks.

Rum is often perceived as being nothing but a product with no real benefit outside of being a mixer with Coke or fruity tropical beverages.

Rum is an alcoholic beverage distilled from sugar cane, either from the raw juice, or most commonly from molasses (which is refined from sugar by boiling). After distillation, rum is bottled right away, making a clear product that is often only used as a cocktail mixer or aged in a barrel for a minimum of year, but oftentimes longer, creating a dark, rich spirit that can be sipped like a whiskey.

You’ll notice that’s less time than whiskey. This is because the majority of rum production happens in the Caribbean, where the tropical climate facilitates faster ageing than in the higher latitudes. Rum also ages quicker because it contains fewer congeners than other spirits, requiring less mellowing than, say, a fiery Scotch or bourbon.

According to Alfredo Fidalgo, the Global Brand Ambassador for Havana Club during his maiden trip to Kenya. He was accompanied by Pavel L Fernandez, the Vice President of the Cuban Bartenders Association.

They had both travelled in the country to carry out master classes at various bars, training bartenders and mixologists Havana Club rum cocktails and their recipes; the Cuban way.

White, light, gold, dark, spiced – there’s just so much on offer, but it’s not just the sheer range of choice that’s astounding. Every rum can also be enjoyed in a number of exciting different ways, each one revealing more about the rum’s flavour.

One of the most recognised rums in the market is the Havana Club 7-Year-Old, and Fidalgo and Fernandez showed us how many ways you can enjoy a bottle of good rum.

Havana Club 7-Year-Old is a full-bodied, rich and sophisticated rum with a lot to offer your senses. Many will argue the only way to truly savour the depth of flavour is to sip it neat, at room temperature. Fidalgo adds that this way, you’ll be fully exposed to its rich aroma and taste without any distractions.

He says that majority do also like it on the rocks for those who need a little distance from the strong rum flavour in order to fully appreciate it. As the ice melts, it will dilute the rum slightly and offer your taste buds a slightly less intense, but faithful experience of the flavours on offer.

He also advised for someone looking to start tasting rums up close without a mixer, old-fashioned is an ideal entry point. To those who are true rum, a purist might grimace at the thought of this classic cocktail, but all you need to do is add a splash of water, angostura bitters and a spoonful of sugar to your neat rum serving.

It’s an exciting way to introduce your taste buds to the heat and intensity of a neat rum without scaring you away.

The most common one is with a mixer, on its own, the Havana Club 7-Year-Old is spectacular. But sometimes, adding the right mixer can bring out a new side to a rum you’d never have noticed otherwise.

For example – grab yourself a glass of ginger beer and mix in a double measure of Havana Club. The sweet vanilla and toasty oak flavours of the rum are a perfect match for the warming spice of the ginger beer.

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