Those “1000 Things to Do Before You Die” kind of books? I find them oppressive. 1000 is a big number. What if I had done 998 and was about to die? I might be filled with regret. Worse, if I were dying and had only done 314, how badly might I feel about hundreds of missed opportunities. No, 1000 is a number to avoid.
Now, 100 or 101 is much, much more manageable. Author Ian Buxton knows that and has written 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die and 101 Gins to Try Before You Die. Now he has written 101 Rums to Try Before You Die.
And right off the top of the bottle, Ian explains why. We have been in a renaissance for whiskey and gin. New ones arrive by the month. By month, too, prices skyrocket. With so much demand, and so much production, experts have noted a decline in quality.
Now it is time for rum to experience a resurgence in interest, but hopefully not the increases in price or decreases in quality. The most expensive rums are far less than the whiskies. And, just like a great whiskey or Scotch, connoisseurs enjoy sipping pure rum. No coco lopez, no coke, no muddle mint, just the rum.
Most of us know the Bacardi line of rums and they are, to be sure, quite good. Several appear in the list of 101 here. The world of rum is far wider, particularly the Caribbean ones, and those special bottles dot the pages of this book. Each entry has a picture, website info, nation of origin and a matching page covering taste, flavor notes, alcohol content, and the often complex history of the rum maker.
I did not know that rum comes in three styles: British, Spanish and French. I’ve enjoyed only the British in my life but I need to find the other two — which is why after I post this article I’m headed to my local liquor store with this book in hand. I’m particularly interested in the French style made, not with molasses, but with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. The flavor, Ian notes, will not immediately remind you of the classic, and British, rums at all.
I thumbed through all 101 entries here, expecting to see if I had encountered a majority of them. Alas, no. I have sampled only 7. I have 94 to go. Well, one of them goes for over $1000 a bottle, so maybe I only need to try 93. It’s nice to know I have a rum journey ahead of me. Long at 93, but much better than 993. I owe a debt to Ian for making my journey a treat and doable.
I’m off to the liquor store. I’ll let you know how it goes!