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Style in the spotlight: English Style

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Rum has three main styles: the English, French and Spanish style. These styles have certain characteristics, but are not a definition. Rather, they are points of reference that can give you a better idea of ​​the type of Rum that you are going to drink. In this post we take a closer look at the English style.

The English style can be regarded as the original form in which Rum once came on the market. In fact, we only speak of an English style since a French style appeared as well. English style Rum therefore uses more traditional production methods. Methods often reminiscent of how classic spirits were distilled. In the meantime the English style has also evolved and some methods have been modernized, so defining the style on the basis of the methods alone would be a mistake. The characteristics of English style Rum are always the result of how the production takes place, so it is important to highlight both.


Flavors and colors


Pusser's Rum is a typical example of an English style Rum

English style Rum is usually complex and dry. You can always discover a whole range of flavors in it and every sweet taste present is only there as a taste, and not because sugars have been added. English style Rum is also usually in the spectrum of the 'baking spices'. Flavors that make you think of pastries, such as vanilla, ginger, caramel, cinnamon, etc. usually take over and are in some cases accompanied by a funky fruity taste or a dark tobacco taste. Usually this Rum is also aged, and usually this is done in roasted ex-bourbon barrels, which can create a deep dark color and allow wood notes to emerge when tasting. These Rums are usually considered heavy and complex, which can be challenging for the novice drinker. As you taste more Rum, you will start to appreciate this style of Rum.


Fermentation


English Style Rum still gets much of its flavor from the molasses that was used. You will also notice that many English style Rums still have a 'Single Estate' label. In this way they can play more on the quality and origin of the molasses.

English style Rums also go through a long fermentation period where the alcohol percentage can rise to more than 14%. Sometimes the fermentation is helped by adding extra sugar, as is the case with Bayou Rum, or by 'dundering' as often happens with Jamaican Rum. The long fermentation allows the distillation process to take place at a lower temperature, which in turn allows more of the molasses flavor to find its way into the final product.


Distillation

Distillation of English style Rum used to be done exclusively with a so-called pot still. A simple device in which you heat the fermented molasses in a pot until evaporation occurs. The alcohol condenses via a gooseneck and then it passes through a serpentine that is cooled by water. This process must be repeated several times to achieve a sufficiently high alcohol content. A first 'run' will raise the alcohol content to about 40%, a second will fluctuate around 70%. This process preserves an enormous amount of flavour, but is very labour-intensive.

Today there are still some producers who use a pot still, but the majority of distillers now use a column still. This device ensures that you can achieve a sufficiently high alcohol percentage in one and the same 'run'. Usually, these types of stills are used to achieve high percentages (up to 99%) in the production of Gin and Vodka, but by carefully controlling the process you can limit the alcohol percentage and therefore also the loss of taste with modern stills. In some cases, the blender will try to blend part pot still and part column still to enrich the flavor where necessary.


Maturation

English style Rum can be aged, but that is not always the case. Contrary to popular belief, barrel aging is not an essential part of an English style Rum. What is true is that aging English style Rum produces a very tasteful result, and it will add authenticity to an already delicious drink. Maturing will also give a nice color to the Rum which improves the drinking and quality experience. Most English style rums are aged in ex-bourbon casks or new American oak casks. The barrels are almost always roasted to give extra flavor and color. In some cases, an additional maturation is provided in Whiskey or Sherry barrels. This extra maturation can be a finish of several months, but also a full maturation of several years.

Some Rums are aged in a classical way and then blended, but the Spanish Solera method is also used in the maturation process.


Origin

English style Rum is sometimes linked to the origin of the Rum. Although this is true in some cases, it is not a condition and can even cause some confusion. For example, Dos Maderas is an English style Rum from Spain.


Conclusion

Those looking for an authentic taste and those who like to drink a rougher Rum that can sometimes have some sharp edges, will certainly find English style Rum to their liking. Some distillers try to make the Rum more accessible because they want to compete with the more refined Spanish style, others take a different approach and embrace the rougher side that sometimes reminds the drinker of the original 'Navy Rum'.

If you want to learn more about this style, you can always participate in our 'Rule Britannia' tasting where we discover some typical English style Rums.

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