Out of respect for great pirating traditions, I’m calling for a moratorium on the words craft, artisanal, and small-batch being bandied about by folks shilling nothing of the sort. But when it comes to everyone’s favorite yo-ho-ho beverage—rum—there are many delicious and truly small-batch options newly available to awaken your inner Long John Silver.
While aged rums can vary widely in flavor, most large-production light rums are as flavorless as vodka. However, the Unbarreled Rum from Ludlow, Kentucky-based Second Sight Spirits is quite the bewitching beauty. It has a cocoa-butter tone that I enjoyed both on the rocks and in a few classic rum cocktails.
The blackstrap-based Road’s End rums—both white and gold—from southwest Michigan’s Journeyman Distillery are also fantastic. The gold rum has combined notes of butterscotch and morels, which are just the highlights among the welter of flavors that bloom over ice, but it also really rocks an El Floridita Daiquiri. Prichard’s Distillery in Tennessee was a pioneer in the domestic craft rum market with their Fine Rum. Distilled from high-grade molasses, it’s intended to be a modern recreation of Colonial-era rum. Unusually full-bodied and reminiscent of a nutty toffee, it really sings with a splash of water.
Speaking of historical recreations, the Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum is, to my mind, the rum that most resembles the ration for 18th century privateers. It has an initial oiliness that is more funky than pretty, but any lover of a Highland Single Malt Scotch will dig its almost peaty flavor. This rum also makes a mean Pirate Cocktail. Prepare to pillage your pantry for the perfect snack (cashews, or—I’m almost ashamed to say—Crunch ’n Munch), and you’ve got a nightcap sure to shiver your timbers.
Recipe: Pirate Cocktail
2 oz. Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 bar spoon Simple Syrup
Shake in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a spirit of marauding.