Rum Journal: The Art of Tasting Rum


By Robert Burr
Rum Journal Special Contributor

You like rum. You like the way it tastes. Perhaps you enjoy a variety of different styles of rum. Rums from many islands, territories, categories. Me too. So, what better job might we aspire to than being a rum taster, or better yet, a judge in a rum tasting competition?

The art of discerning the finer qualities of well distilled, aged and blended cane spirits is dependent on a combination of factors.

If you have a good palate, a fine sense for identifying flavors and scents, an ability to describe what you’re experiencing, the basis for sense memory from visiting and learning many aspects of rum production and development, you might make a fine rum judge.

Start with the basic qualities of sweetness or dryness. Young rum versus old aged rum. Heavy rich rums or light delicate rums. Hints of vanilla, honey, spices, vegetal notes. Influences from toasted or charred barrels once used for Bourbon, Sherry, Cognac or other classic spirits. These are the most obvious aromas and flavor elements you can easily discover and describe.

Experience a greater variety of rums. Discuss your evaluations with like-minded friends and learn more about the variations in fermentation, distillation, aging and barreling that can affect the final product. Your brain will begin to store and catalog these factors and start to make sense of all the variations. Add in your own proclivities and preferences and your appreciation for fine rums will begin to reach a level of sheer bliss when encountering a wonderful cane spirit.

If you understand why you enjoy a particularly artful expression so much, you’re on your way to being a serious rum taster.

You’re never done, but you’re well on your way.

Robert Burr is a rum fanatic. He can talk about rum for seven minutes without taking a breath. His little guide to rum features tasting notes and information on almost 400 expressions that he admires. He’s just getting started. He is the organizer of the upcoming Miami Rum Renaissance Festival next week.