Rum Review: Ragged Mountain Rum
Rum is one of those things that we usually don’t pay much attention to: if we’re hosting a party and planning on making some piña coladas or daiquiris, we’ll run to the liquor store and pick up a bottle of rum that we are familiar with. We’ll probably pick up a nice bottle of Barcardi, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with Bacardi rum, the truth is that we are limiting ourselves when we think of rum as a drink to consume in shot form or only in cocktails.
Rum is incredibly varied, and depending on the region where it’s made, it can be a light refreshing drink, or it can be a beverage that can quite possibly put some hair on your chest. The point is that if we only stick with the familiar brands of silver or unaged rum, we are really missing out on a world of flavor. What is doubly tragic is the fact that there are plenty of micro-distilleries in the United States that are making sublime rum that gets ignored on the shelves of alcohol markets.
One American rum that is underappreciated but is quickly gaining fame is Ragged Mountain Rum from the Berkshire Mountain Distillers in Massachusetts. Established only five years ago, this distillery is already producing prize-winning spirits such as gin along with their Ragged Mountain Rum. Like other recent American distillers, the spirits are handcrafted, meaning more flavor and depth remain, and the unique character of their products is attracting legions of fans who are bored of mass-produced, soul-less spirits.
Ragged Mountain Rum is produced only in small batches in traditional pot stills, which further adds depth and complexity to the liquor. According to the website, the over-proof raw spirit is first aged in oak barrels, before any water is added to it. After aging, when water is added, the only water used comes from an on-site spring which is famous for its outstanding levels of purity. The resulting rum is full-bodied, complex, and an absolute delight to drink.
Taste and character
Appearance: The plain, bulge-neck bottle is the first thing one notices; a Spartan label lets the beautiful amber color of the rum speak for itself; no fancy bells and whistles are needed to see this is a rum of quality.
Aroma: One of the biggest complaints that non-rum drinkers have about lower-quality rum is that it smells of old molasses. Ragged Mountain, however, is different; hints of freshly-cut grass, roasted nuts, cinnamon, and oak make for a very pleasant olfactory experience.
Taste: What makes Ragged Mountain Rum a real delight is that rather than having the somewhat flat taste of regular bar rum, it has a taste reminiscent of burnt cane sugar and cinnamon mixed with the brightness of a faint hint of copper. The roasted nut aroma is reflected in the palate as well, and the finish is nice and long, tasting of good quality cinnamon and light-bodied toffee. The taste was much more complex and pleasing than expected.
Tasting and Aroma summary: This is an American rum that is equal to and even surpasses the majority of the Caribbean rums that are on the market. If you’re looking for something different than the traditional Spanish, English, or French versions of rum, then Ragged Mountain Rum will not disappoint and will probably become your favourite.
How to Drink Ragged Mountain Rum
Ragged Mountain Rum works very well as a mixer if you’re a person who finds drinking rum neat to be a little difficult. While rum is traditionally taken by itself and sipped, there are also some fantastic cocktails that feature rum. Because of Ragged Mountain Rum’s hint of cinnamon, it can be taken as an after-dinner digestif, served in an old-fashioned glass with or without a lump of ice; it can also take a cocktail up to the next level. Here are two recipes that are certain to please:
Ragged Mountain Daiquiri
1 cocktail glass or large martini glass
2 ounces Ragged Mountain Rum
¼ teaspoon extra fine white sugar (use more for a sweeter drink)
½ ounce lime juice
Pour the rum, sugar, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker that’s full of ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, then strain and pour into the glass.
Hot Buttered Rum
1 coffee mug
2 ounces Ragged Mountain Rum
About 4 ounces boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Squeeze of lemon and 1 inch lemon rind
One teaspoon butter
One or two teaspoons brown sugar
Boil water in a pot along with the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, squeeze of lemon and lemon rind. Boil for two or three minutes until very fragrant. In the coffee mug, mix together the butter and brown sugar in the mug until a paste is formed. Add the boiling spiced water, then stir in the rum and serve. This drink is perfect on a cold day and has also been used as a home cold remedy for centuries.
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All You Need to Know About Rum
What’s better than a great Piña Colada, sipped on a warm beach in some lovely tropical area? If your answer is two great Piña Coladas, then this article is definitely one you want to read. The main type of alcohol used for this cocktail is the world-famous rum, a distilled liquor that’s produced mainly in the Caribbean made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses or sugarcane juice. Known as one of the world’s best mixers, rum can be added to hot and cold cocktails and is also delightful on its own, either taken neat or served over ice cubes. Every good bar in the world, whether a commercial bar or home bar, will have at least two varieties of rum to make a wide range of drinks. Here is all you need to know about rum.
Rum is basically distilled fermented sugar cane juice or molasses which has been aged in oak barrels. Spanish terminology is usually used: ron viejo is “old rum” and ron añejo is “aged rum. Most of the world’s rum-producing nations are found in Latin America and the Caribbean, and include the Dominican Republic, Belize, Nicaragua, Martinique, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Columbia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Guyana, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Other countries that produce rum on a lesser scale include Spain, Canada, Australia, and Mexico.
Light rums, which are clear in color, are usually used for mixed drinks, while darker and golden rums are taken neat or iced; however, in recent years this has been changing as more bartenders are finding good mixer combinations.
Rum features heavily as a cultural element in the Caribbean as well as in Canada’s Maritimes and Newfoundland. Rum is also associated with the Royal Navy were it was mixed with beer or water and called “grog”, and is also forever associated with piracy that occurred over the centuries in the Caribbean Sea. The name for rum depends on the country of its origin: for example, in Spanish-speaking areas of production, the label will say ron; in French speaking countries the label will say rhum. Nick-names for rum include “Nelson’s blood”, “kill-devil”, “demon water”, and “Barbados Water.”
Rum has been around in some form or another for thousands of years, with evidence of distilling being found in ancient Indian and Chinese archaeological sites. Marco Polo described something similar to a rum which was given to him while he was travelling in what is now known as Iran. However, modern rum and rum producing techniques were discovered in the New World in the 17th century; slaves on plantations discovered that molasses could be distilled. The popularity of the drink expanded to so an extent that in the United States before the Revolutionary War, every person in the colonies was drinking about 14 liters of the beverage per year.
Rum is a little bit difficult to classify as each rum-producing country has its own rules and regulations. However, rums can be classified according to the language spoken in the country where it is produced. However, due to the popularity of Puerto Rican rum in the United States, most of the rums produced in the U.S. will be done in the “Spanish-speaking” style rather than the “English-speaking” style.
Spanish-speaking regions and islands will make añejo rums that are smooth. Cuba, Guatemala, Panama, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic make this type of rum; the U.S. Virgin Islands also make “Spanish-speaking” rum. The Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, make a rum from honey; it carries a geographical designation.
English-speaking regions make darker rums with a fuller, more pronounced taste. The rums keep their underlying molasses taste. Grenada, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Guyana, St. Kitts, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica all make these darker, richer rums.
French-speaking regions of the Caribbean produce rums that are “agricultural” and are made from sugar cane juice only and have a pronounced sugarcane flavor. Rhum is generally more expensive than molasses-based rum. Martinique, Haiti, and Guadeloupe produce this style of rum.
Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit which is similar to rum and is in fact classified as a rum in the United States. Panama produces a beverage called seco, which is triple-distilled rum that is more like vodka in character.
Light rums are usually clear in color and are not aged for long in order to keep them light, slightly sweet and somewhat neutral in flavor.
Gold rums are aged for varying amounts of time in charred oak barrels in order to give them a medium body, a darker, amber color, and a stronger “caramel” type of flavor.
Dark rums are aged longer in deeply charred barrels and can be brown, red, or black. They taste strongly of molasses or caramel and have a fuller body. Spice tones can also be detected in dark rum.
Spiced rums are usually dark rums that have been infused with spices. Cheaper varieties are usually light rum that has been spice infused and artificially colored.
So, the next time you feel like experiencing rum, try something a little different rather than the usual rum and coke or Piña Colada. Try a rhum on the rocks, a neat gold rum, or even try spiced dark rum in this beautiful, age-old drink for cold winter days: Hot Buttered Rum.
Hot Buttered Rum
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 oz spiced rum
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch piece of lemon rind
1 squeeze of lemon
In a pan, boil water and spices along with the lemon rind for two or three minutes. In a mug, mash the brown sugar into the butter until it forms a paste. Pour the hot spiced water into the mug, and add the rum. Give everything a stir, and add a small squeeze of lemon. Heaven in a mug, and the best way to add a bit of brightness on days that are bitterly cold.
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