Chocolate & Rum
“Of all the spirits in your home, rum is the most romantic.” - James Beard, 1956
In these remaining days of summer, I invite you to pair romantic rum with civilized chocolate. Perhaps rum is often enjoyed during steamy weather because it hails from tropical locales where both sugar cane and cacao grow. The sugar cane fields of the Caribbean were indeed rum’s birthplace, but prior to the American Revolution, numerous rum distilleries could be found throughout New England. Today, rum is crafted all around the world.
To make rum, sugar cane is pressed into a juice and either fermented immediately (creating rhum agricole) or boiled prior to fermentation to create a molasses byproduct. The resulting distillate is clear and typically aged in oak barrels. When the aging process occurs in a warm climate, the duration is shorter due to the fact that hot temperatures create quicker reactions between spirit and barrel. The combination of terroir, fermentation methods and aging techniques all contribute to a vast array of tempting flavor notes, such as tropical fruit, vanilla, caramel, wood and spice.
White rums are clear, lighter in body than dark rums, aged briefly in barrels, and then filtered to remove any color imparted from the barrels. A white rum can be quite dry. When considering a companion beverage to pair with chocolate, a white rum may not be as ideal as some of the darker rums, but allow your individual palate to be the judge!
Dark rum is aged for longer periods of time which amplifies the golden and amber hues. Some distillers use added burnt sugar, caramel or molasses to further enhance both the color and full-bodied flavor.
Demerera rum is made from cane grown in Guyana. It undergoes a long aging process which results in a rich, dark flavor profile similar to Jamaican rum.
Rhum Agricole, probably the most dynamic and complex type of rum, is made from fresh sugar cane juice instead of molasses. It can be white, gold or dark with hints of vegetal, grassy or even bold truffle notes. Many consider rhum agricole to be the purest expression of rum.
Here are three top shelf rums that I think could pair beautifully with five chocolates from the Barometer Chocolate collection...
Meet the rums:
- Zacapa 23 is handcrafted in Guatemala and aged between 6 and 23 years at 2,300 meters above sea level. It boasts flavor notes of raisin, vanilla and baking spices.
- Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, with notes of dried fruit and caramel, is a Venezuelan rum produced from distilled molasses in copper pot stills and then aged for 12 years.
- Clément Rhum’s Cuvée Homère (a rhum agricole) is a highly rated vintage rum. Notes of warm biscuit, almond butter, and black pepper reveal themselves in a buttery mouthfeel, along with flavors of wood, fruit, tarragon and licorice.
Meet the Chocolates:
- Bachelor’s Hall, Jamaica dark chocolate bars (from either Soma or Pump Street - or choose both to mix and match) have all kinds of delicious notes between them such as sweet juicy berries and cherries, honey, rum, cashew, wood, cream and cocoa.
- Friis Holm Nicaliso is super chocolatey with notes of strawberry and raspberry and a deep walnut, woody finish.
- Kahkow Dominican Nacional might be especially nice with the Cuvée Homère. It has notes of dried fruit, roasted nuts and chocolate cake with woodsy undertones.
- Ritual’s Peru 75% dark chocolate bar is both mellow and rich, with notes of stone fruit and nuts.
- Fruition Passion Fruit Caramels are tart, tropical and exotic, just like many rums. Pair these glamorous bon bons with a snifter of one of the above selections, or a dark rum of your choosing.
Follow these steps for the ultimate chocolate and rum experience:
Serve the rum neat. Serving it on ice will dull the flavor of both the rum and the chocolate, and ice numbs the palate, so even water with ice as a beverage is not recommended for intentional chocolate appreciation.
How to Savor Chocolate with Rum:
- Taste the chocolate by itself. Notice the aroma and flavor notes.
- Cleanse your palate with a plain cracker, piece of crusty bread, or a thin wedge of tart green apple.
- Now taste the rum by itself, paying attention to its aroma and flavor notes.
- Take another taste of the chocolate, biting into it and then allowing it to melt slightly in your mouth. This can take anywhere from 5-10 seconds.
- Take a sip of the rum as the chocolate continues its melting process. Notice the commingled flavors and sensations in your mouth and body as you unite these two distinct tastes.
- Swallow the rum while the melting process of the chocolate is still underway, and marvel at the unique flavor arc that blossoms and unfolds in your mouth. Enjoy the full effect as the chocolate completely melts.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum...alongside a bar of chocolate. James Beard, it takes the romance up a notch!