There are several distinct styles of rums, but all are made with sugarcane. Some rums are made from cane juice, while others are made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar production. The different styles; English, French and Modern, are specific to the regions in which they are produced. Rum can be made using either column or pot stills. English-Style Rum
"Pirate Juice" is an old term used for rum made in the English tradition. English-style rum is classically pot stilled from molasses. Some English-style rums are aged, although most West Indians prefer to drink the un-aged variety. Rums from St-Croix and Jamaican rum are typically high proof, as is navy-strength rum. Jamaican rum is often thought of as dark, but un-aged high-proof rum is the most widely consumed on the island itself. The aged styles are generally produced for export. Also included in this category are rums from the Demerara region of Guyana, and some from Australia and India.French-Style Rum
The French- or Brazilian-style of rum is produced using the cane juice, rather than molasses, because the juice is abundant, and not used in sugar production. These rums are referred to as rhum agricole
, literally “agricultural rums”. Rhums agricole can be distilled either in continuous stills or pot stills. Martinique is the only place that can make appellate-labeled rhum agricole. In Brazil sugarcane is also very abundant, and for this reason cachaça is also produced from fresh cane juice.
The French style of rum evolved when the market for Haitian sugar collapsed following the establishment of sugar beet factories in France by Chaptal beginning in the 19th century. As a result, Haiti began to make rum from fresh- pressed sugarcane juice instead of molasses, which is a by-product of sugar production.
There is also a rhum industriel
produced in the French Islands, which is made from molasses of pretty low quality. Wherever molasses is used in such rhums industriel
, it is common to use Brazilian molasses because it is the least expensive.Modern Style
Advances in technology have led to a more international style of rum production, similar to the wide production of Bourbon whiskey. The distillate in the U.S. is smoother, and the wood is more prominent. Many of the Bajan rums are going the same way, as are those from the Virgin Islands.
This style was created by Don Fecundo Bacardi in Cuba, using column stills and charcoal filtration. Bacardi moved to Puerto Rico after the 1959 Cuban revolution, and this island became a center for rum production in the modern style. Today, Puerto Rico produces 80% of all of the rum purchased in the U.S.
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