Yarrr! We’re here to discuss the finest grade of rum out there: a category referred to as “premium.”
Table of Contents
How Premium Rum Originated
Rum is the quintessential drink of the Caribbean, having originated from slavery-fueled sugarcane production in the 1600s and 1700s. It is a drink born of history, of tragedy and conquest, of triumph and loss, and just a sip can conjure the stormy waves of the tropics.
When Europeans enslaved African and native Caribbean populations to cultivate sugar on islands like Hispaniola (modern-day Dominican Republic/Haiti), Barbados, and Jamaica, they had a curious byproduct of manufacturing: fermented molasses.
At some point, someone tried distilling this liquid, and voila: rum.
Premium Rum Distilleries
Distilleries quickly opened up throughout the American colonies, and everyone from peasants to George Washington himself came to enjoy the sweet smack of rum.
But in 1764, King George III thought it prudent to forbid the colonists from importing rum ingredients from the Caribbean.
That didn’t go well for poor George. The colonists revolted, the United States was born, and the rest is history.
Rum has endured, and we’re here to learn about its finest grade.
What Makes It Premium?
How do we differentiate between premium and run-of-the-mill rum?
“Premium” here refers to a high-quality beverage made from the finest sugarcane molasses or juice. It gets aged for an extended period of time in oak barrels crafted using traditional methods. As a result, it’s considered to be a luxury spirit — one that offers complex flavors, aromas, and smoothness.
The aging process is where the rubber meets the road. Premium rums are typically aged for a minimum of 3 to 5 years, with some premium rums aged over 20 years.
Check out Don Papa 10-Year Rum and Rhum J.M. V.S.O.P. as examples. Aging is essential to the production of premium rum, as it allows the spirit to develop its distinct flavor profile and acquire the color and aroma of the oak barrels.
In general, premium rums are more expensive than regular rums and are often enjoyed neat or on the rocks, as opposed to being mixed in cocktails.
Where Is Premium Rum Usually Sold?
You can find premium rum in a variety of locations, depending on the market and the brand. Check out the following spots for a fairly sure bet:
Specialty Liquor Stores
There are plenty of specialty liquor stores around, and most pride themselves on carrying a selection of premium rums — including those aged for an extended period and made using traditional methods.
Online retailers and alcohol delivery services often offer a wide selection of premium rums, making it easier for consumers to access premium rums from around the world.
High-End Restaurants and Bars
Don’t forget to ask for the rum menu when you’re eating at a high-end restaurant or drinking at a high-end bar. Premium rums are often featured, and the facility might specialize in craft cocktails and have a selection of premium spirits.
Traveling? Seize the opportunity to shop for premium rum at a duty-free shop in the airport or other travel hub — you’ll often find rums that are made locally and are not widely available outside of the region.
Distillery Gift Shops
Many premium rum brands offer gift shops at their distilleries, where visitors can purchase limited edition or exclusive bottles of premium rum, as well as other souvenirs and gifts.
What Are the Top 5 Premium Brands?
There are many premium rum brands to choose from, but some of the most popular and highly-regarded ones are:
A premium rum brand from Guatemala, Ron Zacapa is known for its complex, rich flavors and aromas. The rum is aged using the Solera system, which involves blending rums of different ages to create a consistent, high-quality product.
A Venezuelan rum brand, Diplomático produces a range of premium rums that are aged for up to 12 years. The rums are made using sugar cane honey, a type of concentrated sugarcane juice that gives the spirit a unique flavor.
A Jamaican rum brand, Appleton Estate produces a range of premium rums that are made using traditional methods and aged in oak barrels for up to 30 years. The rums are known for their complex, fruity flavors and spicy notes.
A Barbadian rum brand, Mount Gay has been producing premium rums for over 300 years. The rums are aged for up to 25 years and are known for their smooth, mellow flavors and hints of vanilla and spice.
As a French rum brand, Plantation produces a range of premium rums that are aged for up to 20 years in the cognac tradition. The rums are made using a combination of column and pot still distillation methods, giving them a unique flavor profile that blends fruity and spicy notes.
Pairing Premium Rum with Strains
Here are three great strains that pair well with rum:
The Pineapple Chunk strain is everything you want from a chunk of skunk: it’s got sweet pineapple, pungent cheese, and funky pine aromas, and it’s perfect for a blend between heady energy and calming body balm.
You can’t go wrong with the Lemon Cookies strain, which is a warm, friendly bit o’ bud that tastes like sweet citrus, a nutty and spicy cookie, and sugary herbs. It will make you feel less stressed, happier, calmer, and ready to dive into creative pursuits.
The Triangle Mints strain, named after the Caribbean’s own Bermuda Triangle, is an aromatic choice that carries notes of diesel, sweet mint, and blue cheese. It’s high in THC, so you’ll probably feel an energy boost and lots of focus.