Are you a casual fan of distilled spirits that have been placed into a large barrel and left to sit in a warehouse for years, possibly many of them, so that over time, the wood transforms the harsh, clear liquid into something that is sort of brown and tastes mellower and rounder and deliciouser and expensiver? Are you therefore afraid of the whiskey shortage that the major whiskey companies are warning you will mean higher prices and empty shelves and unchecked sobriety, so buy now, buy all you can, before it’s all gone?
Drink rum instead. You can buy some old-ass rum, which, after being distilled from molasses or sugar cane, has sat around in barrels for long periods of time, for relatively small sums of money: El Dorado 15 is, as you might expect, made with a blend of rums that have sat in a barrel for at least fifteen years. Is it slightly sweet and rounded with a “full nose packed with dark coffee, candied orange, almonds, dark chocolate, pepper and rich vanilla.” It is only thirty-six dollars. Barbancourt 15 is kind of soft and woody and fruity and other things you might say about a bourbon, but instead of corn it’s like molasses. It’s about forty bucks. Ron Zacapa 23, which is a blend of rums between six and twenty three years old, is probably the first rum that made a lot of people go, “Oh, rum isn’t just that stuff that goes in a daiquiri or a mojito or that made me vomit pieces of my intestines into a urinal while I was wearing a silver crown.” Here are some tasting notes for it: “Nose full or apricots, citrus fruits, vanilla, cocoa and bourbon.” It runs around forty to forty-five dollars. You could also buy some older, more expensive rum, for the same reasons you might buy an older, expensiver whiskey, to show have you have t a s t e, like the Dictador 20 Year Old for sixty bucks, or El Dorado 21 Year Old for ninetyish dollars or a rare twenty-five-year-old rum from English Harbour for four hundred dollars.
(But, you say, whiskey—bourbon—is the most American of all spirits. It’s America in a Solo cup. It’s what this country was built on. This is incorrect. Our colonial working stiff forefathers, the non-rich ones, they drank rum—awful, rank, cheap rum. Whiskey didn’t really come around in the colonies until after rum, so you could even say it’s kind of a poseur?)
What should you do with this old-ass rum that has been sitting around in a barrel for a while? A lot of the same things you would do with a whiskey or other mature spirits: You can drink it neat or with an ice cube or as an old fashioned (an old fashioned is just a spirit, sugar, water, bitters and MAYBE a lemon peel, though you might want to use demerara sugar?) or in like a Manhattanish thing with sweet vermouth, probably Carpano Antica or Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. Drink it and stop worrying about the whiskey shortage, or that you won’t be displaying a sufficient level of sophistication in your liquor choices because when literally everybody else is talking about how much they loooove whiskey, you? You appreciate fine aged rum.
Photo by Far Enough