A spirit distilled from molasses or sugar cane juice. Most rum is made from molasses (a by-product of the sugar industry), which is first diluted with water, then distilled. Rum from the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique is usually made by fermenting sugar cane juice, and is called ‘rhum agricole’. Cachaça is a colourless Brazilian rum distilled from sugar cane.
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‘White’ rums are bottled just after distillation (or are very briefly aged in oak barrels). Better-quality ‘golden’ or ‘dark’ rums get their colour and more complex flavour from a extended period of ageing in barrels. However, some rums are darkened and flavoured with caramel.
Rum will keep well for long periods once opened.
Rum is great in cocktails, from classic rum punch to the Mai Tai and Singapore Sling. It is also used in desserts, including cakes, ice creams and sauces.
Don’t substitute dark, white and golden rums in recipes; the flavour can differ widely. Rhum agricole is better drunk neat than as a mixer.