As mentioned in yesterday's post, rum is distilled from any sugar cane derivative like fermented fresh cane juice or molasses. But some producers add sugar to their finished rum after distillation.
Adding sugar to any spirit can soften it and hide some flaws, but if you look at the (allegedly) sweetened rums in this post on RefinedVices.com, you'll notice two general patterns among the rum bottlings that allegedly have sugar added:
- They come from big companies that shouldn't need to add sugar to cover a bad distillate. They know how to distill.
- They're aged rums, rather than white rums.
Well it turns out that adding sugar to spirits also gives them the guise of age.
Ian Burrell, global rum expert and founder of Rum Experience, commented on the original Facebook post of the sugar values with some really interesting information. He wrote:
I recently did a private tasting for 50 consumers with two rums both finished in sherry casks. One was notably sweeter than the other. When I asked the guests to let me know which they felt was the oldest, 80% said the sweeter one. When I asked which they prefer 60% said the sweeter one.
I then gave them a 3rd rum, which they were unaware was actually Rum no.1 (the dryer rum) with a touch of sugar added to it. All agreed that this was the best rum of the three.
I then pointed out that Rum number 3 (which was in fact the OLDEST RUM) was the Rum no 1 with sugar added, and that they had perceived the added sweetness as extra aging and smoothness.
These rums with high levels of sugar added to them are what I call "Dessert Rums" but they still and will always have a place on our bars, restaurant and spirit cabinet because consumers will buy rums (& other spirits) according to how they taste and not how they are made. But WE must educate them, when feasible, that part of the taste that they are appreciating is the added sugar, wine, vermouth, spice, etc.
What was really interesting about my exercise with the 50 tasters was the ones that preferred the dryer rum also liked whisky. While the “sweeter loving” rum drinkers like cognac.
That last dig on cognac drinkers? It's because cognac also has a dirty secret: much cognac has sugar added to it too.