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 SARAH BETH SPEAR: Rum Princesa
May 2015 Issue / Vol. 3, No. 9                                                                  It's a spirit on its own...There's a rum for everyone.








 


 
      
Executive Chef 
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May 2015
Chef's Larder

      
A Year in Champagne
The Movie

Does rum give a different high than other libations?

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Sarah Beth Spear, Rum Princesa at Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, Scottsdale, Arizona
Sugar-based spirits evoke colorful scenes from a swashbuckled world or a jungled tropic. One where pirates guzzled and natives took nips from casked batches. Who could imagine Puritan pioneers—who outlawed Christmas and Easter, but allowed drinking—taking a taste of the land’s very first homemade libation and it being anything but whiskey or bourbon? “Everyone thinks bourbon and whiskey is what America is founded upon,” Spear said. “But rum was the first spirit in America. The first distillery was a rum distillery in New York. I just think rum’s gotten lost in the shuffle.” Spear, who believes “there’s a rum for everyone,” guessed there might be 600 to 800 different rums in the world. Probably more, she said, because anyone can make it anywhere. “For me,” Spear explained, “The complexity of it was just so awesome. Rum can be made into totally different ways, depending on the soil and how it is distilled. Some are made like wines in the solera method. They use different barrels, which impart different flavors.” Spear gave examples of the Puerto Rican rum, Caliche, made with sugar cane grown in limestone-rich soil and Jamaica’s spicy rums made with dunder. An Arizona rum distillery makes one with agave, which gives it a little sweetness. “So everyone has their own unique way of making rums,” Spear said. “And that’s what makes it so vast.” And then there’s Brazil’s libation of choice. Spear said it takes “a fun palate” to appreciate it. “Like the Russians have vodka and Mexicans have tequila,” Spear explained, “Brazilians do rum. But they call it cachaça. It’s a different type of rum. It’s basically made from fresh sugar cane juice. They don’t use molasses. You’re just getting full-blown sugar cane juice. So it’s got a funky smell, it’s sweeter, but with a little earthiness to it.”