Jamaican rum is the new bourbon

Rum has elbowed its way past the bourbon juggernaut and back into the drinking public’s consciousness. And it should – it’s one of the most diverse spirit classifications, encompassing everything from stripped-down vodka-esque expressions to funky, heavy-duty flavor bombs best enjoyed fireside like a fine whiskey.

Drinkers who want to experience rum’s more intense aspects need look no further than the island of Jamaica. These tend to enjoy a longer fermentation, are traditionally distilled in pot stills and utilize age-old techniques like incorporating dunder (what’s left in the still after distillation) and muck (a microbial culture made up of the accumulated leavings from the distillation process) into the mix.

The results are high-ester, palate-expanding concoctions that challenge any other spirit category for complexity and downright deliciousness. Jamaican rums are often employed by rum-blenders to add punch to their compositions, and because they tend to be so big and burly, they usually play well in cocktails incorporating similarly robust ingredients like passion fruit, pineapple and baking spices.

Try subbing a big Jamaican rum like Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum, recently reintroduced to the St. Louis market, for the bourbon in an Old-Fashioned, or use a split base of a lighter style and a heavier Jamaican rum to add complexity to classics like this daiquiri with the Jamaican Appleton Estate Rare Blend.

Split-Base Daiquiri
1½ oz. Caña Brava rum
½ oz. Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12-year rum
¾ oz. lime juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
Lime wheel or twist, for garnish

• In an ice-filled shaker, combine the rums, lime juice and simple syrup. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the lime wheel or twist.

Buy It
Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum
This super dark rum is surprisingly light on the palate since it blends heavy Jamaican pot still rum with light and extra-light versions.
$30. Intoxicology, 4321 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.3088, intoxicologystl.com

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.