National Rum Day (Yesterday)

Most of my island friends drink rum above all other spirits. (Except for Lyndsey).

Rum. Perhaps the most complex, yet under appreciated spirit in the world. The generational knowledge, sophisticated blending and historical significance just can’t seem to overcome the hubris of scotch, popularity of vodka or snobbish nature of brandy. Please allow me my moment of defense.

Yesterday was national Rum day. So why am I writing an article about rum today? Simple, I choose National Rum day to finish my smuggled bottle of Havana Club, Cuban Barrel Proof rum. How could I drink it the day before? I’ve coddled, and offered tastes of this bottle as often as Scrooge bought Christmas presents. Yesterday was my day to celebrate and enjoy the best rum I have (had) in my collection.

Why does rum have to play second team? Why do people snicker when I say that RUM is my favorite drink? What is it about rum that makes people treat it like a homeless person asking for change?

I have a theory that correlates to Christmas. What is the imagery associated with the holidays? Snow. Evergreen trees, scarfs, knit hats, toboggans and at the heart of it all, COLD. We are sold imagery based on what the Madison Avenue ad agencies sell to us. If you are not from New York/Boston/Chicago or Europe et al, you are not from the economic engine of this planet and therefore you, your country, your culture, and your RUM are all second rate. It’s the mañana culture come back to bite us.

Most of my island friends drink rum above all other spirits. (Except for Lyndsey). I love it when my Wall St. buddies look down on me for sipping a 12 year old Cock Spur when they have a Johnny Walker Red Label in their hand. Seriously?

Rum, just doesn’t get it’s just consideration by the masses. The same masses that flock to cruise ships, get sun burns redder than a Key West sunset, and swear they wish they could hit the lottery so they could live this way every day of the year. The oxymoron is perplexing to me. You love it, you don’t love it, you love it, you don’t love it. Maybe it’s just jealousy. Maybe rum reminds people of some of the greatest times of their lives while on vacation in the islands. Maybe the reality of their gray, cold, cubicle existence is too much to bear, so they avoid rum altogether. Okay, I’ll admit I’m getting a bit carried away but you get the vibe of where I’m coming from right?

Maybe I’m being too hard on the consumer and should shift my focus to bars. How are people supposed to know about good rum and it’s grand potential when the vast majority of bars, even good bars, do not carry much beyond Bacardi and Captain Morgan. Sure these two selections are the basis of many good drinks. But only serving these are just so damn limiting. It’s the same as never traveling beyond the limits of the town you were born in. There’s a huge world out there go sample it people.

Bars tend to like vodka – in all it’s 29 syrupy fruit flavors. You know you are in a forward thinking bar when they carry 10 syrupy fruit flavors of Cruzan Rum. My hat is off to the guys from St. Croix for at least fighting for shelf space.

Rum, in my not so humble opinion, belongs side by side on the same shelf as Scotch Whiskey. The craft of making these two spirits are comparable, the history is equally long, the economic importance cannot be understated and both have impacted the culture of the countries from where they are produced.

Next time you go to a (good) liquor store, slow down in the rum section and select something different, something new, something that looks interesting. Plan on paying a few extra dollars for it and drink it neat. Open your mind and your palate to this cultured spirit and please share it with your guests so they too can taste how good rum really is. For this effort I raise my glass in your honor. Cheers.

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11 Responses to “National Rum Day (Yesterday)”

  1. Shawn Martin (smdmartin) August 17, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Now Carl, I live a “gray, cold, cubicle existence” as well as a sun and sand filled one full of delicious rum (and I hate whiskey)…but perhaps living at the beach in Florida keeps me from that sect of people you referred to. I went with Pampero Ron Anejo Aniversario (neat of course) and loved it. The Flora de Cana 12yo is still the undefeated along with Ron Zacapa Centrenario 23 Anos which is in a tie for the top spot. Great write up as usual. Cheers!

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms August 17, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      Shawn. Doesn’t apply to you. Your’e a true pirate. It was the OTHERS I was referring to. LMFAO. Your selections are outstanding and I’m not surprised.

  2. Trey Fliehs August 17, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Carl, I’m going to take your advice and pick out an interesting rum at the liquor store tonight and get out of my comfort zone! Since I do live in South Dakota I think that I often lean towards whiskey as it helps warm up the body temperature, which is key during the grueling winters! But when in the Caribbean it is all rum! Cheers!

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms August 17, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      Awesome! I don’t dislike whiskey but alas I’m a hard core rum guy. Tell me what you pick. AND I always enjoy digging at Lyndsey :-)

  3. Randy Rutledge August 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    No one drinking Johnny Walker Red has a right to look down their nose at anyone. Always willing to expand my horizons.

  4. Lyndsey August 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    LOL!! You crack me up Carl! Thanks to you I’ve been broadening my horizons in the rum department. It’s hard for me to break up my love affair with vodka but I am working on it. :) I guess I’m one of those consumers who never gave rum a fair shot. Except in college when all I drank was Captain & Coke…may be part of the reason I’ve been slow on the uptake of rum now. Think I need some experts like yourself to get on the rum train…I love to learn…especially when it deals with cocktails!

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms August 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      I figure I’ll bully you into good rum eventually. I hope you don’t mind the good natured ribbing. Even if it is so very public. haha.

  5. Lyndsey August 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Ha! I don’t mind at all. I’m sure I’ll have a good come back or ribbing for you one of these days.

  6. RumShopRyan August 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Nice read Carl. I love browsing the different liquor stores and comparing them based on their rum selections. I will literally stand in the rum section for a good 10 minutes trying to decide which new bottle I will be taking home. I’m sure the store manager thinks I’m stuff bottle down my pants or something, but it really takes me a while to decide.


    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms August 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

      I’m with you brother. I feel like a kid at Disney in a good rum section.

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