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Mar 12, 2014 10:03 AM

Trying to get into rum...

Knowing there is a whole world out there of various types of rums, I've bought a few recommended ones that are known for being good values. My question is, given how different they are, what are the best uses to help them shine:
-Wray & Nephew Overproof
-Barbancourt 5 star

I tried a combination of these two in a daiquiri and it didn't quite work, but I'm willing to try again.

Other thoughts?

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  1. My experience with Rhum Barbancourt 5 star is that it's at its best neat, over ice, or chilled as a sipping rum. Not a mixer.

    I have not had the Wray & Nephew Overproof, but from its description, this feels like something that could work well in punches, a Mai-tai, or a Daiquiri,but might be a bit much for a Mojito (where a lighter rum would be perfect.)

    1. You won't learn about them by combining them. I suggest a small sampler of each with a single ice cube. See how you like the underlying flavor before you fruit them up.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        I agree. Taste them on their own first.

        At 90 proof and with all that sugar it's like drinking soda pop

      2. Well for one you picked two very atypical rums to start with. The Barbancourt is a cane juice rum (most are made from molasses) and the aging gives this one a very Cognac-like taste.

        The Wray and Nephew is a unique white rum, one of the best of its kind but definitely a far cry from most. Besides being 126 proof, it is also one of the most flavorful white rums around, with a grassy / banana character. Try it neat with about half as much water to bring the proof down into the 80s, or add an ice cube - it's an interesting rum to sip.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ncyankee101

          I haven't had it in a long time, but I think the Wray & Nephew Overproof has a lot of sugarcane character. It's just a matter of getting the proportions right so that your cocktail isn't overly stiff.

        2. If you're mixing rums in a daiquiri or other tropical drinks, honestly, the quality isn't going to make a huge difference, especially if you're just getting started. I like to use a decent dark rum (Gosling's, usually) and a decent light rum (a bottle of Tortuga I got on a cruise) that aren't very pricey.

          If you're looking for a good sipping rum, that's a different story. The Rhum Barbancourt is nice as-is. My favorite is Ron Zacapa 23 -- the stuff's like candy.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Boston_Otter

            Personally I disagree. The quality of the ingredients determines the quality of the cocktail.

            1. re: JMF

              JMF, I'll side with Boston Otter on this one. IMHO you can't use plonk in a cocktail, but much of the subtlety of a really high end spirit is lost when you put it in a cocktail or other mixed drink.

              As soon as there is citrus, or multiple different strong ingredients involved I find, particularly with something as subtle say as Barbancourt it is VERY difficult for the average drinker to discern the difference between the Barbancourt three star, five star, and say a MUCH less expensive cachacha (also a cane rum).

              My own recent experience with Michter's Rye in a Sazerac is a perfect example. I love the Michter's straight on with a bit of ice; I just couldn't taste its presence in the Sazerac. It made much more sense to stick with Old Overholt, ($17/L) or certainly Wild Turkey Rye or Bulleit ($26-$30 750ml) rather than the $40 (750ML) for the Michter's.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Thank you for the clarification -- what I probably should have said was "high quality isn't going to make a huge difference". If you use rum poured out of a plastic bottle with a handle you got off the bottom shelf at Kappy's, you'll definitely taste the rotgut in your daiquiri. But the difference between a $40 bottle and a $70 bottle when mixed with pineapple juice, lime, and grenadine will be negligible at best.

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  Heck I picked up a handle of Gosling's for $26 a while back. Use that 30/70 with Cruzan light or dark ($19.99 a handle some times) makes a pretty fine Daiquiri or Mai Tai.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Cruzan dark is always in our house, good value,decent taste.

                  2. re: Boston_Otter

                    Actually I have a couple plastic 1.75 ltr bottles of Doorly's 5 yr I got at Total Wine for $20. It's a very good rum.

                  3. re: StriperGuy

                    I feel Old Overholt is not very good in cocktails in general, which I ascribe to its relative low proof. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong, but i always find it to be bland and washed out. When I am out, I never order any classic cocktail anymore if it lists an 80 proof whiskey as the base. But I've had many happy experiences with higher proof less expensive whiskeys (Old Weller Antique, Rittenhouse), so your overall point is not lost on me.

                    1. re: tomjb27

                      This might depend upon the recipe. The more low-proof ingredients (by volume), the more the base spirit needs to be bold and high proof. An 80 spirit can make a great Martini or Manhattan, and in fact a higher-proof one might need extra stirring.

                      I disagree with JMF a little. Subtle, luxurious ingredients tend to wash out in a complex cocktail. That young, harsh rye might be better than your smooth sipper, once you add Punt e Mes and Green Chartreuse.


                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        Inspired by this thread I made a Mai Tai last night:
                        (Proportions are approximate as I just eyeball it)

                        - 1 oz Cruzan Light
                        - .5 oz Goslings dark
                        - .25 oz Old Monk
                        - Good pinch of microplaned lime zest which I let set with the spirits while I prepare everything else
                        - Juice of 1/2 a very large lime
                        - 2 tablespoons fresh pomelo juice (has a nice smoothing influence)
                        - 1-2 tsp Fabbri Orzata (awesome stuff I picked up in Italy)
                        - .5 tsp Luxardo amaretto
                        - 2 generous dashes homemade Falernum
                        - 2-3 tsp Cointreau

                        Shake and enjoy. I prefer Mai Tais on the rocks. I'll be damned if a better Mai Tai can be made with any ingredients.

                        I've got some El Dorado 15 in the cabinet and I couldn't pick that out or likely taste it at all in such a complex drink. Nevermind that I don't prefer a Mai Tai with all dark rum...

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          That might have made for a good drink, but for me a Mai Tai is all about the rums, which specifically have to be a Jamaican and a Martinique Agricole or it's just not the real thing.

                          I've been to too many bars where a Mai Tai is made with a huge pour of Myers Dark and tastes nothing like a proper Mai Tai which is really a very specific blend of ingredients.

                          Also, I would have to disagree about Daiquiris and good rum. A daiquiri is all about the rum, as the only other ingredients are lime and a little bit of sugar. A Daiquiri will usually showcase the elements of a rum whether good or bad, as most rums are not really made for sipping straight anyway.

                          But to go back to the OP, JWray overproof isn't good for sipping straight or making Daiquiris, and is best for specific uses like making Falernum or drinking with Ting. Barbancourt can make for a mighty fine Daiquiri, Mojito, or plenty of other uses even though it's not the prototypical white rum that would be used in those drinks.

                          1. re: nickls

                            A visit to El Floridita will enable one to connect to the original Daiquiri at a wide, beautiful mahogany bar. And to La Bodeguita del Medio for the mojito, where at any time a couple dozen glasses on the bar are muddling mint.

                            1. re: nickls

                              The inclusion of Rhum Agricole is far from definitive:


                              Though I won't fault you on the Jamaican Rum.

                              In general I like a combination of light and dark, and the rum should have some age on them.

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              You can call any drink anything you want, but there is a standard recipe for a Mai Tai, and it doesn't look a thing like that. Not saying you're doesn't look good, but it's like some saying they're going to make cheesesteak, but using roast turkey, sliced tomatoes, dijonaise, and wilted spinach between two pieces of sourdough.

                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                Although I agree that it's definitely not a Maita'i, In striperguy's defense, it could easily be called a Mai tai swizzle variation. Don the beachcombers less successful response to trader Vic's Maita'i...

                                1. re: Ernestbeaumont

                                  There are 11 Mai Tai variations in link!

                            3. re: EvergreenDan

                              Very interesting point. Are you saying that if I were to make a Manhattan with Old Overholt rather than my preferred Rittenhouse, I should adjust the recipe (upping the spirit ratio) or adjust the dilution? I can't see adjusting the dilution (in this case less dilution) working because it would impact all the ingredients. Do people tweak the recipe? It hasn't been my experience when drinking a Manhattan made with Old Overholt or Jim Beam, for example, that anything was done to compensate for the lower proof. This might just come down to personal preference.

                              1. re: tomjb27

                                Yes. A Manhattan made with 120 proof Hardy rye is going to need more than the usual amount of sweet vermouth (or some water) to keep it from being fierce.

                                Conversely, a recipe developed with Rittenhouse 100 may well not work with Old Overholt due solely to alcohol content.

                                This is why overproof spirits are so useful. You can always add water or other ingredients, but it's tough to go the other way.

                                Similarly, a very bold spirit can be easier to mix with than a elegant, subtle one.


                    2. I tend to agree with the rest of the group. If you are planning on mixing your rum I would recommend to buy a general "non premium/non cheap" rum to start with. "Sipping liquor" and "mixing liquor" are usually not the same thing. The brand comes through more in the short drinks than long drinks but its usually safer to start with a solid mixing rum.

                      If it were me I might try to replace whisky/bourbon drinks with rhum and see where it leads. Why not a sour rhum? Here are some ideas (everyone does it differently so my recipes are just an indicaiton

                      Sour Rhum Cocktail:

                      *1 1/2 ounce of rhum
                      *1 ounce of fresh lemon juice (use fresh lemon for that!)
                      *3/4 ounce of simple sirup (simple sirup is 2 times white granulated sugar for 1 time water, put in microwave if not fully disolved)
                      *The white of one egg

                      *Assemble in a shaker
                      *Shake without ice for a bit for emulsify the egg white (also called a "dry shake")
                      *Add ice and shake until cold (top shaker with ice, never shy on ice, buy twice the ice bags and go to town with it)
                      *Serve as you want (I serve it on the rocks)

                      NB: The rhum is typically sweeter than whisky so if it taste off you might want to knock the simple sirup down to 1/2 ounce.

                      Rum old fashion

                      *1 cube of cane sugar
                      *1 ounce of water
                      *a few dashes of Angostura bitter
                      *1 quarter sized round of orange peel
                      * 2 ounces of brown rum

                      *Put the sugar cube in a whiskey tumbler
                      *Saturate the cube with augostura bitter
                      *add about 1 ounce of water
                      *Muddle to make sure the sugar is fully disolved
                      *Add orange peel
                      *Muddle the orange peel in the syrup
                      *Add ice in the glass to top it off
                      *Add 2 ounce of rum (my friend takes his with 3 ounces!)
                      *Mix lightly

                      Rum crusta

                      *2 ounces brown or dark rum
                      *1/2 ounce Maraschino Liquor
                      *1/2 ounce Triple Sec/Cointreau (I sometimes sub for Grand Marnier and call it a "crusta deluxe!")
                      *1/2 oz lemon juice (please use fresh lemon!)

                      *Mix in a mixer
                      *Add ice
                      *Pour in a whiskey tumbler on the rocks

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: CaptCrunch

                        For cocktails, I think choosing to buy rum purely based on the price is missing the point. Rum varies so wildly in flavor (much like Scotch) that if you're really serious about rum cocktails you'll want to buy according to flavor profile. I think that in general, a good white rum (I use Cruzan aged white, less than $20 a handle) and a decent darker Jamaican rum (maybe Appleton 12) would take care of most of your basic needs. However, as you get more into it, you'll find that certain drinks really shine with a rhum agricole or that a Demerara noticeably changes a drink. Obviously price can be a challenge depending on how much you care to spend, but making it your main criteria for buying rums is a bit of a mistake IMO.

                        As far as the OP's original post... Those are sort've an odd combo of bottles with which to start learning about rum, and I wouldn't use either in a daiquiri. For the Brabancourt, I'd suggest drinking it neat and watered down to taste, or over an ice cube. I've also had some good results subbing it in for brandy in a brandy crusta.

                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                          Totally agree and love ANY Demerara...

                        2. re: CaptCrunch

                          Gawd..I love the term, "muddle".it's perfect!

                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                            Get ready to muddle mint for juleps this Saturday - Derby Day!