Let’s clear this up first and foremost: RUM is the catchall term for any spirit distilled from sugar cane or its byproducts. RHUM is quite literally the exact same, just in French. R(H)UM is how we specify that we’re talking about all the rums in existence and not leaving anyone out.
Because r(h)um just has to be made from sugar cane, it has become the most diverse spirit in the world. There are numerous ways to break down r(h)um into manageable pieces, country or island of origin is a great place to start. Different countries, even different regions within countries, have different raw materials, different fermentation, different stills, and different aging processes, resulting in countless different finished products. The possibilities are potentially endless for variance and experimentation. That’s why we love it!
Another way to categorize is by raw material. Molasses based rums are made from the fermentation and distillation of molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refinement process. There is a wide range of flavors in molasses based r(h)ums, from rounded and smooth to funky and full of flavor. Cane based r(h)um is made from the fermentation and distillation of pressed cane juice, commonly referred to as agricole style. Typically, cane based will have a much grassier and bright flavor profile. But it isn’t always black and white. There are plenty more forms that are distilled or blended: cane vinegar, cane syrup, cane honey, blends of cane and molasses, the list goes on.
Regionally r(h)ums may be called a special name to denote origin and process, such as Cachaça from Brazil, Clairin from Haiti, Charanda from Michoacan, Mexico and AOC Agricole from Martinique.
There’s also the category of “Independent Bottlers”, merchants who bottle, and sometimes blend, age and proof down rum independently from the distillery where it is produced. Bulk distillate or even individually selected barrels are bought so bottlers can add their touch, then branded, marketed, and sold under a new name.
With over 700 rums from over 45 different countries, there’s plenty to explore on our back bar. The world of r(h)um can be a little daunting, but we’re here to guide you. Cheers!