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What Is Overproof Rum?

Many of us have heard of the term ‘Overproof’ when it comes to rum, the most famous examples being Bacardi 151 and Wray and Nephew Overproof.  But what does it actually mean and where does the term originate from?

The actual history of the term comes from many centuries ago when sailors in the British Navy were given rum. As rum became the norm for the sailors, they started to worry that the rations they were given were being watered down too much. The system they devised to check the quality of the rations was to mix a small portion of the ration with some of the gunpowder they had on board. This mixture was then lit to see if it would ignite. If it did ignite then the sailors knew their rum wasn’t watered down.

The sailors realised that this method would work, due to barrels of rum spilling onto the gunpowder in the past. When these spillages occurred with water, it would make the gunpowder useless. However, when the liquid spilt was rum, the mixture still ignited, much to the delight and relief of the sailors.

By using this method, the sailors had ‘proof’ the rum ration they were given wasn’t watered down. It is from this ‘proof’ we have evolved to the term ‘Overproof’ today which in basic terms means that the rum in question is flammable.

We have written a small piece on Overproof rum earlier which you can visit here. Let us know your favourite Overproof rum, and how you like to drink it!

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Everyday Rum – Review 1: Bacardi Superior White – £12 (700ml)

A new segment here on RumCask, I’ll be reviewing the rums that are available to the general public in supermarkets. Hopefully these will showcase some of the qualities of rum and may lead onto more people enjoying the basics and deciding to look deeper into the sugarcane spirit.

Bacardi is the name synonymous with rum. Almost every person I have spoken to who doesn’t know anything about rum will mention Bacardi when I say rum. It goes a long way to show how well their marketing team has done over the years. The Bacardi brothers purchased a distillery in Cuba in 1862 and made a smoother version of the local rum of the time via different methods of filtering the rum. However, Bacardi left Cuba when Fidel Castro planned to nationalise all private property and moved to Puerto Rico to continue their production. This Superior White is a direct descendent of that particular blend. Although it has been refined and production methods have changed, they still age the rum for up to a couple of years and filter through charcoal. For more on the history of Bacardi and their logo especially, here is a link to an article I wrote earlier.

The Bacardi Superior bottle is clean and elegant. Everybody knows what it looks like and when presented, the rum looks perfectly clear in the bottle. It is obviously very economical as it is mass produced. But everybody knows what the bottle looks like. It is in almost every bar and is the standard rum that is served with any rum drink unless specified otherwise. This particular flagship offering from Bacardi is meant to be the superior mixing rum and is not meant to be drunk neat.

To get the basic notes of the rum I will taste the rum neat. This will hopefully give me a better explanation as to the particular ways I would personally mix the rum to get the most from it for you. On the nose it is quite grassy and pungently raw with a fruity finish creating quite an intense nose. On my first sip neat I find the rum very harsh. It is quite dry and I can taste hints of nut and grass. I think I can taste some lemon zest alongside some apple and pear. In the throat afterwards the grassy notes seems to linger the most but in general this is not rum I would purposefully sip neat again. It is too much of a rough and raw ride for me.

My personal opinion on which cocktails work best with Bacardi has always been the classic Mojito. Having tried it again for the first time in a while I have to say it still works well. I have tried better, but with more expensive rum. The fruity notes are complimented well and it creates a fresh very drinkable Mojito. It is easy to see why this is a commonly used spirit in mixers. It is cheaper than most and the flavouring really adds to basic cocktails.

The other cocktail I have been told to try this rum with is the Cuba Libre. Basically Bacardi mixed with coke and a dash of lime. This didn’t work for me. I found the drink too sweet and the flavours didn’t match well. Nothing really inspired me to have this again. I would prefer a dark rum such as Lambs or Captain Morgan as the mixer here for this cocktail.

Overall, at this price point I don’t think a more commonly found white rum can compete with Bacardi when it comes to mixing white rum. Potentially the Captain Morgan White but that is it. Bacardi is an excellent economical mixing rum that can be found anywhere that produces a very drinkable cocktail. If you agree with my recommendation here then why not look at my piece on white rum which can be found here for more expensive alternatives to further your journey along!

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The Bacardi Bat

There are many famous symbols in rum; the Captain of Captain Morgan, the Appleton Estate banner, but one of, if not the most famous, is the Bacardi Bat. We have seen that bat on a variety of different TV adverts, Bacardi bottles and other marketing campaigns for Bacardi and it has become synonymous with the brand. But not many people know the history behind the flying mammal and its link to Bacardi.

In 1862, Don Facundo Bacardi Masso and his wife purchased a distillery and created light rum. During the early period of setting up Don Facundo’s wife noticed a colony of fruit bats were nesting in the tin-roofed distillery and suggested to her husband that they become the symbol of their newly developed rum. However, there was more to this decision than just this suggestion. The fruit bat has roots in folklore in both of the Bacardi’s native homeland. They symbolise good fortune as well as represent brotherhood, faithfulness and discretion. Also the fruit bat is a natural friend of the sugar cane industry as they pollinate the crops and also prey on those particular insects which cause damage to the crop.

The insistence on a logo became a genius move as many of their potential clients at the time were illiterate. The rum of the bat or “el ron del murcielago” was how Bacardi became known in that time, as the company had the image of the bat burned into barrels. As we know today as well, when Bacardi was bottled, each one featured the bat and initially had Don Facundo’s signature as well to assure customers of the quality and authenticity of its contents.

The logo itself has changed significantly from the original since registered in 1862. The first adaptation of the logo was a realistically drawn black bat on a red background. After being updated numerous times, the logo that was created in 1959 is very similar to today’s version. We have the gold features on the bat as well as a gold outline to the red border. The change of the viewing angle of the bat to the right recently was to symbolise looking to the future.

When Dona Amalia suggested to her husband to use the fruit bat as the logo for the fledgling rum business they were running, there is no way she could have foreseen just how important that bat would become to the global brand and trademark that Bacardi has gone on to become today.