The Dominican Republic, a beautiful island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, is known for its beaches, rainforests, and vibrant culture. It’s also famous for producing some of the best rum in the world. Whether you’re a rum aficionado or just breaking into the scene, this guide will highlight the essentials you need to know about Dominican rum. ¡Salúd to this being the summer of Dominican rum!
What is the history of Dominican rum?
The history of Dominican rum runs as deep and rich as its bold flavor. Since the time of colonization, sugar cane has been a major crop of the Dominican Republic. In the early 1600s, it was discovered that molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, could be fermented into a strong spirit with potent results. This was the first iteration of Dominican rum, but it was still in its dark age of development. This early drink was potent and unrefined, nicknamed “kill-devil” and “demon water” as a clear indication of its flavor and potency. After a couple centuries of innovation, distillers refined the distillation process and honed in on a particular rich flavor that caught the attention of the Spanish. The Spanish then took Dominican rum to the next level, distilling at industrial levels on the island and bringing it to the world’s attention.
How is Dominican rum made?
All rum is made from sugarcane, but not all rum is made equally. To make authentic and high quality Dominican rum, the entire process must take place in the Dominican Republic, from sugar cane harvesting to oak barrel aging. First, molasses is separated from refined sugar in the sugar-making process. There are two means of distilling rum - from molasses or sugarcane juice. Higher quality Dominican rums (like Candela or Brugal) are made from the latter. The molasses or sugarcane juice is then combined with water and yeast and fermented to create a mixture with low ABV (alcohol by volume). This mixture is then distilled a first time, rendering a high-proof spirit. This mixture is distilled a second time, then placed into wooden barrels for between one and eight years of aging. This time spent in the wooden casks is what gives various rums their particular flavor. Oak barrels are preferred by Dominican distillers to imbue characteristic notes of vanilla, caramel, and spices. Barrel aging of distilled spirits also develops the particular color of a Dominican rum. Once the rum has aged to the distiller’s satisfaction, it is poured into large, open tanks to allow the flavor to blend and mellow. Lastly, the Dominican rum is bottled and distributed to rum-lovers worldwide. This rigorous process to develop complex, aged rum has helped it become a beloved export of the Dominican Republic, making it a multimillion dollar industry. A small island makes big waves when it comes to producing high-quality Dominican rum.
What is Mamajuana?
Mamajuana is the native spiced rum of the Dominican Republic. It combines the robust flavor of Dominican rum with red wine, honey, and infused with tree bark and herbs. The infusions vary by locale so the flavor of mamajuana is defined by its natural and cultural environment. Its rich, complex flavor has made it the official alcoholic beverage of the Dominican Republic, mirroring the heat and magic of a Caribbean paradise.
For genuine Dominican mamajuana, it’s best to find brands and distilleries that source all ingredients from the island. Candela, this summer’s Dominican Rum, combines rum, spices, and sugar cane from the Dominican Republic itself to create a bold flavor unlike anything you can find away from the beaches of the Dominican Republic. An additional eight- to ten- month small-batch aging process in bourbon casks creates complexity and depth that captures the essence of the Caribbean. Mamajuana takes the high-quality experience of Dominican rum and raises the bar for the ultimate taste of the Dominican Republic.
What are some good ways to drink Dominican rum?
Dominican rum may have a distinct flavor but it remains a highly versatile drink to enjoy. As the backbone of many tropical cocktails and summer drinks, it’s the right time for Dominican rum to get its moment in the sun. Mojitos, mai tais, and rum and colas are all refreshing ways to try Dominican rum. However, many Dominican rum enthusiasts enjoy this flavorful liquor as it is, neat or on the rocks. Notes of caramel and spice shine through when it’s left on its own in the spotlight.
Where can I find it?
Dominican rum can be found at most liquor stores. Next time you stop in to your local liquor purveyor, be sure to check out Dominican rums to mix into your summer patio rotation. Mamajuana, however, can be harder to find outside of the Dominican Republic. Luckily, brands like Candela have brought the island flavor to the mainland. Now you can find a store selling the elusive mamajuana near you.
Whether you’re a connoisseur or simply trying something new, Dominican rum might be the drink for you. With a rich history, deep flavor, and wide availability, this robust Caribbean liquor is both accessible and elevated. Impress your guests at the next summer cocktail party with tall pours of delicious, flavorful Dominican rum. Raise your glasses and elevate your spirits! ¡Salúd!