Frequently Asked Questions
- Why rum?
- What is your favorite rum?
- How did you get started with rum?
- What is your policy regarding samples?
- What is your review process?
- Is this your job?
- Are you a bartender?
I can’t think of another spirit with the rich, varied history of rum. Sailing ships, slavery, pirates, revolutions, wars, intrigue, key driver of the economy of an entire hemisphere for 200 years – you can’t beat that. Every country that can grow sugarcane deals with a lot of molasses has its own style of rum, it’s own special history. Daiquiris, mojitos, mai tais, zombies, aged, white, gold, spiced – I could go on for pages and pages.
Ed Hamilton always has the best response to this question: “The rum in my glass.” It’s really true. I find that my favorite rum changes from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. I’d even have a really hard time giving you a favorite style of rum, let alone a single favorite rum.
I was vacationing in St. Lucia during the summer of 2005 and happened into a liquor store in Castries. There I got into a conversation with the clerk regarding a stack of very nice-looking bottles of Admiral Rodney aged rum. It sure looked fancy, and I had been spending the week drinking some very nice rum punches. I decided to take a bottle of the Admiral home.
Within two months the bottle was empty. It was the best rum I had ever tasted, and I needed more of it. Unfortunately for me, there was no importer for Admiral Rodney in the USA. As I searched around for a solution, I stumbled across the Ministry of Rum site and its brand new forums.
The rest, as they say, is history. Through the suggestions and comments of people like Ed Hamilton, Rob Burr, Scott Steeves, Paul McFadyen, and Ian Burrell I started to explore rum in greater and greater depth. I went from 1 bottle to 5 to 20 to over 100. It’s a slippery but ever-so-delicious slope.
My basic policy regarding samples is that I accept samples. It should be assumed that any product mentioned on this site has – at one time or another – been sent to me as a sample for review. For more detail on my policies regarding samples, advertising, etc., please see my Policies & Disclaimers page.
Rums are either purchased or received as gifts from friends or samples sent by producers, and then get put on the shelf for whenever I get around to them.
Reviews of rums are done over several days. I like doing at least two tastings with each rum because your palate can change from day to day based on your mood, what you ate during the course of the day, the temperature, and about a billion other tiny little factors.
The bottle is photographed and then opened and poured into a rum tasting glass. I make notes about the color of the rum, as well as its viscosity in the glass (which is a greater indication of sugar content than of “quality” of the spirit). The nose is then explored before I actually take notes on the taste of the rum.
I repeat the process again using a double old fashioned glass to explore more of the nose and palate (I find that the DOF glass allows more of the heat to come through, and is more likely to be found in a person’s home than a specially designed rum tasting glass). It’s really quite amazing how different the same spirit can taste in two different pieces of glassware. I repeat the process again with both glasses, allowing the spirit to breath a bit more in the glass before sipping to see how the rum opens up.
After two sessions of tasting the rum on its own, I use the rum in a daiquiri – the standard-bearer of rum cocktails – to get an idea of how it mixes. Once that is done, I choose a recipe that I feel highlights how the rum works in cocktails, make and photograph the cocktail, and then include that in my notes.
When I have all of my notes together I figure out where in the spectrum of rums I would rank the spirit. I use a 5 point scale, in which 5 out of 5 is considered superb, 4 out of 5 excellent, 3 out of 5 good (i.e. better than most), 2 out of 5 average at best, and 1 out of 5 not worthy of the name “rum.”
“Job” would imply that I make a living running this site. Nothing could be further from the truth. On a good month I might earn about $40-$50 running this site, which may just barely cover my citrus expenses for that month and doesn’t even come close to covering my liquor expenses.
I think it would be more accurate to say that this is my mission. I want to explore rum as deeply as possible, and I want the rest of the world to know how great of a spirit it is. I want to share my experiences as I continuously learn and search for that perfect dram.
That’s not to say I would mind this turning into my job. If you or someone you know is willing to pay me a living wage to do this, hey, I’m all ears.
I am occasionally a bartender. I sometimes feel more like “I’m not a bartender, but I play one on Sundays.” Since the summer of 2010 I have spent the majority of my Sundays behind the stick at 320 Main in Seal Beach, California. You can generally find me there every Sunday from 3pm until close. I’m also occasionally asked to “guest bartend” from time to time and will endeavor to announce such occasions here.