Proof, short for alcoholic proof, is an Anglo-Saxon term for the amount of ethanol present in an alcoholic beverage and is about double the volumetric alcohol percentage.
Over-proof rums therefore contain an alcohol content higher than the average gradation of rums for sale, i.e. 80-100 proof, equal to 40-50% of volumetric alcohol.
According to legend, the concept of proof was invented by British Royal Navy soldiers who in the 18th century used rum to test gunpowder. If the powder, despite being wet, ignited, it was the demonstration, "proof", that the percentage of alcohol was high, about 57%. Another legend claims that the rum should be "proof" that the amount of alcohol was high enough to prevent the shooting powder on the ship even if its barrel had broken during transport, the term was born navy proof. Proof as a unit of measure, however, did not have the same meaning in Britain and the United States, at least until, in the mid-19th century, it was decided that 50% of volumetric alcohol should correspond exactly to 100 proof.
Several terms were created to define the amount of alcohol in a bottle:
Cask Strength: it means that the contents of the bottle is the same as the barrel, there has been no added water, therefore the percentage of volumetric alcohol is always higher than the average of 40-50%.
Barrel Proof or Barrel Strength: it is mostly used as a synonym for Cask Strength, the amount of ethanol present is the same as there was when the liquor was in the barrel.
Navy Strength: refers to a rum with volumetric alcohol of about 57% or superior up to 70%
Overproof: Often used as a synonym for Navy Strength, it actually refers to a rum with a volumetric alcohol percentage of more than 75%
Overproof rums are particularly popular in the Caribbean where locals prefer stronger drinks or are used for flambé recipes or drinks that require a rum with high alcohol content.
The rum comes from the fermentation of the juice made from sugar cane and its molasses, and its history is very ancient, just think that this plant, native to New Guinea, was brought to Asia Minor in 325 BC by Alexander the Great. Only later, it was spread to the Mediterranean area thanks to the Arabs. It was Christopher Columbus who planted the first sugarcane on the island of Hispaniola, now known as Haiti.
In 1964 the Dominican father Labat, mentions for the first time a sugarcane brandy, the names of this brandy are guildive or tafia. Before long, the custom of distilling sugarcane molasses to obtain a very aromatic liqueur spread.
Rum is mainly produced in the Caribbean and states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, with major producers being Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago. This is why he is often associated with pirates and buccaneers and their legendary adventures. There are also liquors that are made in India and Indochina, that is, former English and French colonies where the colonizers imported their knowledge for the making of rum. Rum is called if it comes from British countries or colonies, takes the name Ron if it comes from Spanish countries or colonies while if it comes from French weights or colonies it is called Rhum.
There are 24 different varieties of sugarcane that can be grown in countries with a subtropical climate, the plants are cut at the base, frayed and then pressed to extract the juice. The proceeds, known as vesou or garapo, can follow two processes to become rum, the first involves its fermentation to obtain the so-called Agricultural Rum, in the second it is brought to the sugar mills where sugar and molasses are created, remit of the process. The molasses is then transported to the distilleries where it will be purified and filtered to eliminate any waste materials that could prevent proper fermentation. To start the fermentation process, yeasts are added and the duration goes from 24 hours to three weeks.
After the fermentation, the distillation is passed, the characteristics of which vary from producer to producer. Finally, the brandy can be moved in steel containers or in wooden barrels from which it will absorb the aromas while the alcohol content will be reduced.
This results in Industrial Rum and this processing process is particularly used in the former French colonies, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti and Guyana French.
Aging of Rum
Aging can occur for a short time in steel barrels or wooden barrels that have been roasted in focus, a process by which they release hints of vanilla, spices or fruit in rum, or in barrels used by whisky distilleries.
Before being put to age in the barrels, the distillate is diluted with water to cause the gradation to drop down to 56/57 degrees, because the humidity and heat in the places where the barrels are stored would lead to an extraction of the tannins of wood water and alcohol evaporation is also too aggressive.
As with distillation, there are no fixed rules for aging to indicate the degree of elevation of rum. Take, for example, a rum aged 15 years, it could mean that in the mixture under consideration the older rum is 15 years old while for other producers it could indicate the age of the younger rum, other producers understand it as the average of the years of aging of the distillates used.
Types of Rum
Carta Blanca, Blanco, White Label, White: rum not aged or aged in steel barrels for a short time and then moved to 6-month-old wood, are clear rum and in case of excessive presence of color released by the barrel are filtered through activated charcoal. They are ideal for creating cocktails. Their cost is low compared to rum whose aging is longer.
Carta de Oro, Gold, Gold Lebel, Paille, Superior: unclear/golden aged and whose taste is adjusted with the presence of caramel that also helps to homogenize the color. They have a simple taste and a short persistence in the mouth, you can consume them even smooth and their price is slightly higher than the light ones. If bottles are the result of blends of different vintages and barrels are named Añejo, Especial or Reserva and can be composed of a mixture of as many as 60 different types of rum.
Premium rum, Dark or Dark Label: also called aged rum or meditation, have a minimum stay in the barrel of 7 years. Their flavor is rich and intense and the persistence in the mouth is quite long, the color varies from amber to dark shades of wood. Their production process is long and expensive, so they have to taste smooth and slowly. If a meditation rum is aged for over 25 years it is called extra old, XO, and they are the top of the category.