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Odor profile: complex, sweet and aromatic chord that brings on succulence and molasses-tinged nuances to gourmands and woody fragrances (such as Lubin's Idole), as well as an anchor for fresher, tropical compositions where it's rendered in a light manner (such as in Virgin Island Water by Creed).
Rum is an alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane. More precisely, it is made from molasses, a syrupy by-product of the processing of sugarcane into sugar. Even though it is very rare, some manufacturers produce their rum from fermented and distilled sugarcane sap. Depending on the recipe, the process of fermentation may range anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks, to result in a clear and colorless spirit. The distillate is usually aged in oak barrels and colored with burnt sugar to get its authentic rich flavor and deep golden tint.
The origins of rum are quite unclear, although we know that fermented drinks from sugarcane were produced even in ancient India and China. Some excerpts from the diary of Marco Polo document a 14th-century description of a "very good wine of sugar" served in what today is Iran. What we do know is that slaves from the 17th-century Carribean sugarcane plantations first discovered that molasses ferments into alcohol. Their experiments with molasses and distillation lead to production of the world’s first true rums, which are claimed to originate on the island of Barbados. The origins of the name are also uncertain but we know that, before it was called rum, the liquor made of molasses was known under the names Kill-Devil and Demon Water. Most likely, this is due to severe hangovers and other health problems caused by poorly-developed distillation techniques.
Rum is often associated with pirates, and this connection is based upon the practice of water-conservation, used on pirate ships. A small amount of rum was added to the drinking water to kill the parasites and prevent diseases. In addition, pirates enjoyed large amounts of grog, which is a famous mariner’s beverage made of sugared water, lime juice and rum. The large amounts of Vitamin C, contained in grog, helped pirates to prevent scurvy when they are at sea for many months. Another infamous association of rum with pirates began with English privateers trading on valuable goods. This way, rum became the first step in the humiliating slavery triangle where the molasses was first shipped to New England to make rum, then the rum was shipped to West Africa to trade for slaves, and finally the slave ships were brought back to the Carribean where the unfortunate ones were put to work in the sugar cane fields.
As the blessing of rum spread across the world, it became so popular that it even became an accepted currency in Europe for a certain period of time. Rum was also the most common currency at the time of the settlement of Australia by Europeans in late 18th century. The amount of rum consumed by an average American before the Revolutionary War is estimated to about 3 gallons per year! Even George Washington bought 160 gallons of rum for his pre-election party, hosting 391 voters with finest quality Barbados rum. Needless to say that he won.
Today, rum is mainly used to mixed drinks and rum cocktails. However, true connoisseurs appreciate clean and dry, fine aged rum that offers the wealth of flavors. Aged rum has a golden or light mahogany hue, developed during the lengthy ageing in oak barrels. The smell of rum stems from its syrupy sugary heart of molasses, but its true bouquet develops from the process of ageing. White rums are colorless and their flavor is subtle and discrete. Golden rums have spent a couple of years in oak barrels, which gives them smooth savory flavor. Dark rums are aged in oak for extended periods and often flavored with caramelized sugar. Their aroma is full-bodied, sweet and smoky. Depending on the recipe, the rum can be infused with spices or fruits, to get a unique and interesting character. Most commonly used flavoring agents are cinnamon, seeds of vanilla, roots of ginger, clove buds, coffee, and tropical fruit extracts.
In perfumery, rum note is a delicious gourmand and aromatic chord recognized by its thick, sugary and heady cadence. You can easily identify it in Carolina Herrera’s 212 VIP, where it is offered in a sweet and mellow blend with passion fruit. More playful interpretation of rum is introduced by Calvin Klein in One Summer 2009. This light and fresh fragrance carries sunshiny and laid-back chords of rum cocktail, served with a slice of lime on a bright sunny day by the sea.
Author: Marina Milojević (Mary)
Fragrantica Writer, Translator & Editor
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