Today is National Rum Day. In honor of the occasion, we caught up with someone who celebrates the spirit everyday. As Master Blender for the Barbados-distillery Mount Gay, Allen Smith creates new blends of rum for the oldest rum producer in the world.
Mount Gay rums (along with most other rums you buy on the shelf) are made by blending together different vintages of the spirit. Smith’s job as Master Blender involves determining this exact ratio. His favorite rum, the 1703 Master Select, uses Mount Gay rums ranging from 10 to 30 years old.
“What most people don’t realize is that blending is much more than simply mixing liquids together,” Smith says. “Persistence, overall flavor, balance, richness and a complex aromatic all come into play. These are all delicate components in balancing a perfect blend.”
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1703, a premium blend that retails for around $130, is a sipping rum that can be consumed straight-up, much like you might drink a nice bourbon or scotch whisky. While there aren’t many sipping rums out there now, Smith believes it’s a trend we’ll see more of in the future.
“My prediction is that companies and Master Blenders like myself will continue to experiment with these delicate components and will continue to create more complex flavor profiles and interesting products for rum drinkers,” he says.
For drinkers new to the spirit, however, Smith recommends starting with rum-based cocktails. For those looking for quality, but affordable blends, some good ones to try are Mount Gay’s Black Barrel ($30), Bacardi 8 Anos ($25), and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva ($39)
Here are a few very easy recipes to help you celebrate National Rum Day in style:
Dark and Stormy
- 2oz dark rum
- 6oz of ginger beer
Combine together in a glass over ice and stir.
- 2oz rum
- 1/2 ounce of simple syrup
- 1 ounce lime juice
Shake everything with ice and then pour into a glass.
- 2oz rum
- 2 oz coconut cream
- 1 cup of frozen pineapple
Put everything together in a blender and blend.