Barreled Rum – What it Is, and Why Ours is Amazing
Written by Mark A. Vierthaler, Head Distiller, Tenth Ward Distilling
Staring down the rainbow of fruity, flavored, dark and light rums at your local liquor store can feel immediately overwhelming.
What’s the difference between dark rum and black rum? Is dark rum aged longer than gold rum? What about silver/white rum? Is that aged at all? How many freakin’ fruit flavors CAN a rum company shove into a single bottle before you’re just drinking snowball syrup?
And – more importantly since you’re reading this right now – what sets Tenth Ward’s Barreled Rum apart from anything else that I may find on the shelves?
All good questions.
- There’s really no meaningful difference. Typically they’re aged longer than others. But not always. Sometimes it’s just caramel coloring.
- No, it’s not. Or maybe it is. Again – Maybe that gold rum also has caramel in it.
- It’s unaged rum. Or maybe it’s aged and it’s been filtered and it lost its color.
- Just slightly less than the current number of flavored vodkas.
- This blog is gonna tell you!
As Matt Pietrek of Cocktail Wonk writes in his excellent How Rum’s Classifications Hold It Back article from 2016:
“The color of a rum has absolutely no bearing on its taste, how long it’s been aged, where it originates, or its alcohol content. Judging a rum by its color makes as much sense as selecting a vehicle by color alone.”
(If you’d like a deeper dive into how meaningless the color designations of rum is, I highly recommend digging through this article.)
As you may or may not know, we’ve actually been distilling our very own white rum for the past five years! Yep. You see, our former neighbors – seafood restaurant Ragin’ Reef – was looking for a solid mixing rum that was locally produced. Shared walls make good partners, and we began producing Ragin’ Rum.
Because we’re Tenth Ward, and you know we can’t leave well enough alone, we knew we didn’t want to make just another rum that anyone else on the market could knock out without a second thought.
No, we decided to break with tradition and focused on tradition.
A Brief History of Rum
You see – a lot of the rums that you’ve probably sipped over the years have been produced much more akin to vodka than the funk-bomb pot-distilled rums that our colonizer forebearers sipped upon along the banks of the Chesapeake.
These rums are typically fermented with cultured yeast in stainless steel in a few days and then distilled via columns to produce less flavorful – although still excellent – rums that appeal to the general drinking public. Add dark and spiced rums to the mix and you have the addition of caramel coloring to imply age – and it’s not unheard of for additional backsweetening to take some of the edge off of the final spirit.
First distilled in 1640, rum was distilled on British, French and Spanish plantations by slaves on Caribbean plantations as a way to continue usage of the sugar cane that was being grown across the region. (This production led to the infamous Triangular Trade of molasses, rum and slaves. Thankfully rum – much like America’s whiskey – is coming to terms with its role in slaverly in the colonies. But that’s a blog for another day.)
British heritage rum uses molasses and a mix of cultured and wild yeasts. This is then fermented from a few days up to a month, and then is typically distilled in a pot still (although columns are occasionally used).
Spanish heritage rum uses molasses as it’s base and exclusively pitches cultured yeasts, is only fermented for about two days, and is then column distilled and often filtered post-distillation. Think Bacardi.
French heritage rum is the outlier – Instead of molasses these rums (or rhums) use cane juice as the base, cultured yeasts, ferment for less than a week, and are typically column distilled.
Again – these are all very vague definitions, but at least you can get a general idea of production styles in the rum world.
Tenth Ward’s Barreled Rum
As I mentioned above, with our Ragin’ Rum we decided to embrace the traditional colonial styles and went with the British heritage style of rum. Our rum is 100% Grade A Molasses from Domino Sugar in Baltimore. We pitch in our own proprietary blend of champagne and whiskey yeast, and then do a week-long open-top fermentation to allow wild yeasts within the distillery to settle in and add their own special flavors and funk to the fermentation.
After the week-long fermentation, that fermented molasses is then double pot-distilled on Falcor (our hybrid still), cut with spring water, and then bottled. No back-sweetening. No caramel. No filtering (except for a paper filter to remove any dust or other bits before it goes into the bottle). The end result is a bold and funky white rum that’s still accessible to the average rum drinker.
For our barreled rum, we followed that same fermentation and distillation process. In order to increase the amount of alcohol and water soluble flavors in the barrel, we proofed the distillate down to 100° proof as opposed to our standard 110°. It then went into used Honeyjack barrels and aged for just over two months.
The end result is a pale, straw-colored rum that smooths out some of the heavier molasses notes from our Ragin’ Rum.
Nose: Heavy notes of dark molasses, vanilla bean and clover honey.
Taste: Big blossoms of sweet molasses, followed by softer notes of oak, dry vanilla, finishing long and smooth with honey and toasted almonds.
How to Mix It
1.5 oz Ragin’ Rum
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 oz triple sec
0.5 oz orgeat
0.75 oz Barreled Rum
Mint and lemon wheel garnish
Shake all ingredients except Barreled Rum into a shaker, strain into a rock glass. Add ice, float barreled rum on top, garnish.
Rum Old Fashioned
2 oz Barreled Rum
0.25 oz water
6 dashes bitters
Orange peel garnish
In a rocks glass, saturate the sugar cube with bitters. Add water and muddle, add rum, a large ice cube and garnish.
1.5 oz Barreled Rum
8 mint leaves
0.5 oz simple syrup
4 lime wedges
In a shaker muddle 3 limes, 8 mint leaves and simple syrup. Add rum. Shake and strain into a highball. Add ice, top with club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.
Bottle Club Members: You know what to do
This beautiful and unique take on barrel aged rum is ONLY available to our club members.
Not a club member?
You can sign up today for free. Bottle Club members get all the perks at Tenth Ward, including 50% off spirit tastings and flights for themselves and a guest every time they visit the Cocktail Lab, 10% off all merchandise, four amazing Bottle Club-only releases per year, special invite to Bottle Club-only events, and more. Just check out our blog about the Perks of Being a Bottle Club Member here.