The Caribbean area serves as the center of the world’s rum production. Almost all major island groups product their own distinctive style of rum. Barbados, for instance, produces sweetish, light rum with both columnar and pot-style stills. The distillation of rum originated in Barbados. The Mount Gay Distillery, going back to 1663, is perhaps the oldest active rum producer in the entire world. Cuba makes crisp, light-bodied, clean rum from columnar stills. Currently, it is against the law to export Cuban rum to the U.S. The Dominican Republic is noted for its full-bodied, aged rum made with columnar stills. Guyana is justifiably famous for its heavy-bodied, rich Demerara Rum. Named for a local river, this rum variety may be aged for very long periods of time; there are 25-year-old varieties currently on the market. These rum varieties are also used often for blending with other regions’ lighter rum. Neighboring French Guyana and Surinam produce full-bodied rum very similar to that of Guyana’s.
Haiti adheres to the French tradition of more heavy-bodied rum that has been double-distilled in oak barrels and pot-type stills for at least three years. This process yields an especially smooth-tasting, full-flavored rum. Also, Haiti still maintains an extensive black market moonshine market that is the main rum supplier to the voodoo religious ritual market.
Jamaica is very famous for its rich, aromatic rum, the majority of which is distilled in pot stills. The Jamaican government has issued official rum classifications. These range from light to extremely full-flavored. Jamaican rum is widely used for blending purposes.
Martinique is a French Island with the highest number of rum distilleries in the entire Eastern Caribbean region. It utilizes both column and pot stills. As in other French islands such as Guadeloupe, both rhum industriel (made from molasses) and rhum agricole (made from the juice of sugar cane) are produced. These rums are often aged in older French brandy barrels for at least three years. Rhum vieux (aged rum) is often compared to the very highest quality of French brandy.
Puerto Rico is mainly known for very dry, lighter rum made with columnar stills. By Puerto Rican law, all dark rum must be aged at least three years, while white rum must be aged at least one year.
Trinidad maintains and extensive export trade in rum and mainly produces lighter rums from columnar stills. The Virgin Islands are divided into the British Virgin Island and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Only the United States Virgin Islands currently produce rum, mostly lighter-bodied mixing rums produced with columnar stills. There are, however, some very fine aged and dark sipping rums produced by the largest rum maker, Cruzan. These rums and those produced in nearby Grenada all serve as the base for a classic aftershave lotion known as “Bay Rum.”
Nicaragua and Guatemala are both Central American countries that are noteworthy for various rums that are produced from columnar stills, are mainly medium-bodied, and lend well to aging. These rums have recently started to attract recognition in international markets.
Brazil produces massive quantities of light rum using columnar stills and an unaged can spirit. An unaged spirit known as Cachaca (Ca-sh-sa) as the best-known example.
Venezuela produces many oak barrel-aged dark and golden rum varieties that are widely-respected.
A handful of rum distilleries are located in the southern U.S. that produce a range of medium-bodied and light rums that are typically marketed with Caribbean-theme titles.
Canada tradition of trading rum for dried cod fish spans a 300-year history. This tradition continues to flourish in Atlantic Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland where golden Antiguan rums, rums from Barbados, and Jamaican rums are imported and subsequently aged for a half-decade. The heart rum final product is locally known as “Screech.”
Europe is mainly a blender of imported rum varieties. Both France and the U.S. import rum from their former Caribbean colonies for bottling and aging. Germany imports dark, heavy rums from Jamaica and mixes them with a neutral spirit at a ratio of 1 to 19. This yields Rum verschnitt. A similar Australian product is known as Inlander Rum.
Australia produces a considerable amount of golden and white rums with a double-distillation technique that employs both pot and column stills. Rum is second only to beer as Australia’s most popular alcoholic beverage. Lighter rum is also produced on some South Pacific islands like Tahiti.
Asian rums tend to reflect regional sugar cane production. Golden and white rums from columnar stills are produced mainly in Thailand and the Philippines.