Overproof, Spiced, Arrack
Rum’s multitude of personalities has caused it to spill onto yet another page. These three niches dare not related to one another - other than being members of the rum family at large. But they do show up in cocktails, in many cases as major players.
Overproof Rum - Rum that is over 50% ABV, most overproofs are 75.5%, or 151 proof.
Spiced Rum - Aged rum that is flavored/infused with spices and other ingredients, typically vanilla, cinnamon, clove, giner and orange peel. They are also often sweetened.
Arrack - A very old style of rum from Java, Indonesida made with molasses and red rice. It has robust and spicy aromatics, similar to in some ways to traditional Jamaican rum.
Like vodka, rum can be distilled to extremely high proofs because of it’s high sugar content and lack of ABV restriction. Most rums are diluted and bottled at or around 40% ABV (agricoles tend to be a little higher), some rums are bottled as high as 75% ABV! Generally any rums over 50%ABV is labeled as overproof rum. Rums bottled specifcially at 57% ABV may be labeled Navy Strength rum, just like Navy Strength gin, Smith and Cross is one exmaple.
We’ve all been lured by the mystical "151" on a bottle of rum, which is referring to the rum's proof, or double the ABV percentage. It should goes without saying that drinking this by itself, at least exclusively, is an unequivocally bad idea - maybe you’ve had the hangover to prove it. But as a cocktail ingredient, overproof rum can be a very handy tool to give rum cocktails little more backbone since rum can be so smooth and leans towards sweet.
Recommended Brands: Overproof rums are sold both aged and unaged. Unaged overproof rum is also great as a base for infusions and tinctures.
Wray and Nephew: 66% ABV - Also the top selling rum in Jamaica.
El Dorado 151: 75% ABV
Brugal 151: 75% ABV
Plantation Overproof, 73% ABV
Goslings 151, 75% ABV
Hamilton 151 Black, 75% ABV
Lemonhart 151, 75% ABV
Spiced rum is a flavored rum and one of the most popular of all rum styles. It's how many of us first experience rum, and the only way many of us still do. "Spiced" rum means rum infused with baking spices. particularly vanilla, but as also cinnamon and clove, and citrus peels which is often accompanied by plenty of sugar. Captain Morgan leads the charge in this category. Sailor Jerry’s is a favorite of bartenders because it isn’t sweetened. Personally I like to make my own, which gives you much clearer, richer flavors and it only needs to sit a few hours.
Homemade Spiced Rum Recipe
2 cups Jamaican or Amber rum - I like Coruba Original Dark
3 crushed cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans - sliced lengthwise
6 orange peels
1 heavy tablespoon or 2:1 (sugar to water) cane syrup or 2 tablespoons 1:1 simple syrup
Slice open the vanilla beans lengthwise and pry them open a bit.
Crush the cinnamon sticks, I usually put them in a shaker tin and use a muddler to break them up.
Combine all ingredients in a covered container at room temperature.
Let sit for 2-3 hours, agitating occasionally. Deciding when it's finished depends on your desired strength. If you want lightly spiced rum, infuse for less time. For heavily spiced rum, let it sit for longer.
Strain through cheesecloth.
The spiced rum essentials: vanilla, orange and cinnamon.
This is an outlier that is it's own category and an important niche cocktail ingredient. Arrack is a very old style of rum that from hails Java made from sugar cane and fermented red rice. European Merchants got their hands on it while trading in the Far East as early as the late 16th century.
It soon became a popular ingredient in the sailor's new concoction called punch, and was once highly sought after. Thanks to it being called for in many of the earliest cocktails recipes, arrack has some serious histocial street cred, and this is well known in cocktail circles.
Arrack's flavors are similar to high ester Jamaican rums, very spicy and aromatic, so it's best used sparingly to add complexity to cocktails. Today is the only brand available is Batavia Arrack Van Oosten. Batavia is the former name of Jakarta, Indonesia's captial, and Van Oosten is dutch for "From East." It is very handy to have on the back bar.
This is not to be confused with Arak - the anise flavored spirit that's popular in middle Eastern countries and similar to Raki and Ouzo - or Sri Lankan Arak which is made from coconut milk.