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Sampling the Caribbean Spect-Rum

Sampling the Caribbean Spect-Rum

by Kevin Patterson

When you drink Caribbean rum, you're in good company, but make sure you're drinking the right kind of rum to fit your taste buds. That's right. Just like beer, there are several different kinds of rums, ranging from light to dark, to everything in between. In the Caribbean, you can find just about any kind of rum, so it may take you awhile to find your favorite. If you're not sure which rum is the perfect match for you, read on and then drink up!

Light rums - usually called silver or white rum on the label - are the bread and butter of the rum world. Because they're sweeter and have a mild flavor, they're perfect for mixed drinks. To get a real taste of some of these delicious light rum cocktails, touch down in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The island is famous for its light rum and is home to a worldwide brand you've probably heard of: Bacardi. While you're visiting Puerto Rico, be sure to taste its rum-based mixed drinks, especially San Juan's famous pina colada. After a week in San Juan, you'll head home feeling like an expert on light rum.

After a while, you might want something a little stronger than a light rum. Something a little...spicier. So why not try a spiced rum! This yummy flavor is what you get when you try the flagship rum from brands like Captain Morgan and Sailor Jerry. These rums earned their name from 17th and 18th century sailors who put spices in their rum to improve the bitter taste. Thanks to that tradition and some great improvements in distilling, we now have delicious rums made even better by Caribbean spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and more. With so many flavors, these rums are equally great when you drink them straight or when you mix them with other tropical ingredients.

Where should you go for some of the best spiced rum? Let the trade winds take you to St. Lucia for some Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum. Whether you drink it straight from a fancy snifter glass or mix it up in a cocktail, this drink packs a punch of cinnamon, clove and other flavors.

Finally, if light and spicy just aren't strong enough for you, go to the dark side. Dark rums are aged longer than the light rums, and that extra time in the barrels (usually charred oak) makes these rums a lot stronger and full of flavor. Those flavors usually include caramel, molasses, spices and vanilla. Dark rums are perfect for people who take their rum seriously, and straight up. But that shouldn't stop you from mixing it up, though. A rum runner served "island style" or a painkiller (with dark rum) will let you experience dark rum in a delicious new way. If you want to taste some aged rum or take a bottle home, you can find it at Jamaica's Appleton Estate. Try their 12-Year Aged Rum. It's divine.

So there it is: a guide that will put the right rum in your hands, right away. If we didn't mention your favorite kind of rum at your upcoming vacation destination, never fear. Now that you know what to look for, just ask your friendly bartender for suggestions of your sought-after spirit. Then raise a toast to the age-old and delicious tradition of Caribbean rum!

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