Words by: Simon Difford
Rum is termed 'light' or 'heavy' depending the level of flavour components or 'congeners' - products of fermentation that are not ethyl alcohol. The level of these (esters, aldyhydes and lower alcohols) is dependent on the length of the fermentation and the purity to which the rum is distilled. The fewer congeners, the lighter the rum; the more congeners, the heavier it will be.
Rum produced from a pot still or single distillation column is usually described as heavy. Multiple-column stills can produce both heavy and light rums depending on how the still is operated but column stills are usually employed to produce light rum. Light rums tend to have a short fermentation while heavy pot still rums are usually distilled from a wash formed by a long fermentation.
The odour, texture and taste of light rums are more subtle and refined than those of heavy rums, which have a heavier, more full-bodied flavour. The level of impurities in light rum is less than a third of those found in heavy rums. Distilleries producing light and heavy rums often blend the two to produce a rum having characteristics of both, usually using a majority of heavy rums in the blend.
Light rums tend to originate from countries originally colonised by the Spanish, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, while heavy rums come from countries from the former French and English colonies, including Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Barbados, Guyana and the Virgin Islands.
Launched in June 2016 as part of a range of spirts designed to represent good value-for-money and branded to sit alongside NV Absinthe, established in 2007. Other products in the range include: London Dry Gin, Scottish Blended Whisky and Triple Distilled French Vodka. Passion fruit, pistachio nuts, pecan pie, black pepper spice and profiteroles.
Part of Bacardi’s Facundo Collection, named after founder Don Facundo Bacardi Masso. Despite Its crystal clear appearance, Neo (meaning new) is blended from rums aged 1-8 years which are then charcoal filtered to remove the colour and influence the flavour. Vanilla, muscovado sugar, mushroom, raisin, blanched almond, overripe banana, died apricot, blue cheese and white pepper.
Launched in May 2014, exclusively for global travel retail, Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron is blended from rums up to three years old and is filtered through coconut shell charcoal. Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron is packaged in a heavy Georgian green glass bottle. Plastic Tupperware box/bamboo wood, blue cheese, mushroom soup and light cracked black pepper.
A blend of several white rums from Jamaica, Martinique and Trindad by Charles Hosie, the firm of spirits importers and founded in Hamburg 1918. They launched their ‘3 Island Rum’ brand at the beginning of 2013. Pungent higher alcohol spirit and grassy rhum agricole with charcoal and overripe banana, sandalwood and saddle leather.
Busted Barrel rums are produced by Jersey Artisan Distilling, the first distillery to open in New Jersey since the end of Prohibition. They are made using fermented molasses from Louisiana using a copper pot still. Toffee fudge, crème caramel burnt sugar, tar and salty butter.
Made in Puerto Rico by Bacardi, this Havana Club should not to be confused with the Cuban made Havana Club Rum distributed by Pernod-Ricard. Ownership of the Havana Club trademark is disputed by Pernod-Ricard and Bacardi who have been arguing their respective rights in court since the late 1990s. Fermenting yeast with very slight smoky note.
Production of this family-owned and made rum started in June 2012. Wicked Dolphin is made in Miami from both molasses and cane juice from Florida grown sugar cane. It is distilled in a Tennessee made Vendome pot still with an interlinked six plate column and aged in ex-bourbon casks. Freshly toasted oak and honey with a strangely alluring note of sweaty jogging shoes (promised the makers I wouldn’t write that but I mean this in a good way - doesn’t everyone love to smell their shoes after they’ve been running?)
This light white rum is made from sugar cane grown in the mineral rich volcanic soil of Panama’s Herrera region. Caña Brava is continuously distilled in a vintage classic 1922 copper and brass column still by Master Distiller and former Minister of Cuban Rum, Francisco “Don Pancho” J. Fernandez. Fudge, ‘soft-scoop’ vanilla ice-cream and icing covered patisserie.
Launched in 2012, white rum is column distilled from fermented molasses Stanford Cove on Mauritius and packaged and marketed by Blue Liqueurs ltd. Mineral wet flint, wet cement and red apple skin and white pepper. Faint hairspray-like aroma.
Launched in 2012, this is the first white rum to be launched under the Mount Gilboa brand, incidently a brand named after the same estate as Mount Gay and the two rums both are made at the same distillery. Restrained with light esters with faint apricot fudge note.
ISLA Ñ, pronounced 'En-Ye', is a single estate rum made with fermented molasses from Tucuman, a subtropical region of Argentina. Pungent fudge, vanilla, coconut and caramel with faint creamy chocolate and mocha coffee.