What happens after you open a bottle of rum? You will have fun drinking it but you probably won’t finish the bottle in one sitting or a night out. Just to be clear, that is not a dare. Do you have a bottle sitting in your cabinet that you are not sure is safe to drink?
Well, we are about to get into that.
Here’s something you should know about rum before we dive into details. It is a distilled spirit and as such, cannot really go bad, if stored properly. You should be able to keep it for years. So, it doesn’t matter how long that bottle of rum has been sitting in your cabinet, it should be fine.
What we are going to learn about here is storage, shelf life and to answer the question ‘can rum go bad and how long does it last?’
How do you Store Rum?
Just like how you store whiskey, rum has to be kept in a cool and dry place. By cool, we are not talking about a refrigerator. One of the things you need to keep in mind is that when not in use, an open bottle of rum will evaporate.
The evaporation is the problem here. For that reason, you need to close it tightly to ensure that there is no evaporation.
That means you should ensure that you do not store the bottle with the pourer on. The reason, again, is evaporation, with the pourer on, the alcohol evaporates at a much faster rate than water.
Eventually, the rum will become mild and won’t have the same kick as when you buy it.
The process of oxidation is another problem you will have to deal with. When combined, the processes will change the taste of the liquor significantly.
You should always tighten the bottle regularly because the cap can sometimes loosen a bit.
All this is not to say that evaporation does not happen when the bottle is closed. Not only does the alcohol still evaporate, but it also oxidizes as well. Combined, these two processes will change the taste of rum over time.
However, when the bottle is closed, the process is significantly slower. It is so slow that if you’re not a rum connoisseur, there is a good chance you may not be able to tell the difference, even after some years.
Pro Tip: When you open a bottle of rum, you can still store it for a long time to come, if you pour the remaining contents of the bottle into a smaller bottle that can be tightly sealed.
The more liquid you have in the bottle, the less space there is for oxygen to occupy and the slower the process of deterioration.
The process of pouring the contents into another bottle is only sensible if you are planning to keep the rum for years. If you are not planning to keep it for too long, you can leave it in the bottle it came in and enjoy it over the next week or even a few months without noticing any difference in quality.
What is the Shelf Life of Rum?
One word: indefinite.
Yes, the shelf life of rum is indefinite. So, your bottle of Captain Morgan, Plantation or Bacardi, should be safe in the cabinet, as long as the seal is not broken and the bottle is not opened. As long as you keep it sealed and unopened, you could open it in 2050 and it should be fine to drink.
Here’s the kicker, even after you open the bottle of rum, the shelf life still remains indefinite.
Yeah, the shelf life of perfectly stored rum is still more or less the same as that of unopened or sealed wine.
Before you start cheering, there’s a caveat.
When you open that bottle, you are going to drink it to completion in about 8 weeks, right?
You see, the longer you keep the bottle open, the more the taste of the rum will deteriorate. The recommendation from rum lovers is that two months should be how long you keep an open bottle of rum. Or rather, that’s how much time you have, to finish it.
However, as we have already mentioned, it will take a few years before you get to a point where you can tell the difference in taste.
Pro Warning: Do not fall into thinking that a bottle of rum kept for years will make the rum taste better. It won’t. You know why? Because it is not wine. It is a distilled spirit.
Does Your Bottle Contain Pure Rum or Is It More Like Rum-Based?
All the things that we have noted above, apply to pure rum. By pure rum, we mean pure rum. Some of the products in the market are just based on the concept of rum. Take, for example, Malibu Rum. It is a coconut rum and doesn’t last as long as pure rum.
If your bottle does not contain at least 40% alcohol volume, then it is not ‘80 proof’ and in many cases, will only keep that great rum taste for only a few months after it has been opened. Less than 40% alcohol by volume means that it is a liqueur based on rum like RumChata, which only retains its best flavour for up to a year.
To summarize the storage issue, rum (opened or unopened), will stay in the pantry indefinitely and be fine to consume. All you need to do is follow the instructions on storage to prevent oxidation and evaporation.
Signs That Rum Has Gone Bad?
We have spent the last several paragraphs telling you how rum doesn’t really go bad and all that. As you can tell, the words ‘going bad’ have been avoided and for good reason. The thing is, rum can only deteriorate if we’re being honest.
The only reason that can happen is if you store it poorly.
That said, you should keep an eye on your bottle to make sure that it remains sealed or capped to ensure that when you bust it out for your guests, it does not turn into an embarrassing scenario where you get questions like ‘you said this was rum?’
To know if the rum is still good, pour some of it and smell it. If it smells fine, taste it. If you notice a funny smell or funny taste, throw it out. That bottle is a goner.
If it looks okay and smells okay but the taste is off, then you have a choice to make. If you see nothing in the bottle, it is probably not spoiled and has only deteriorated a bit. But that is a personal choice you make.
Believe in yourself, you got this! You know what rum tastes like.
What Makes Rum?
Okay Connoisseur, look in your (where you store alcohol). Of all the bottles you see, rum would be the fun friend. Where bourbon, cognac, scotch and tequila have universal regulations for how to distil and produce, rum doesn’t have these restrictions.
Rum is made from fermented sugarcane juice, molasses or cane syrup. The liquid is distilled to become the pure rum (80 proof or higher.)
Who Discovered Rum?
Rum is new because it was first made by Caribbean colonists in the 1600s. As the story goes, a slave in Barbados dipped his spoon in leftover molasses that had been left out in the sun for a week and apparently, the buzz he got from that taste gave birth to good old rum.
Slaves loved the stuff and soon, the landowners began to apply sophisticated distillation methods to make export-grade rum.
Molasses-based Rums are The Most Common Type
Most of the rums you find are made from molasses.
They boil the cane juice and the sugar is then poured out into tanks where it turns into crystals that become molasses.
Did you know? – Over 11-tons of molasses are needed to make one gallon of 110-proof rum.
After the molasses are made, a mash is made to ferment by adding some types of yeast, distilled water and nutrients. They then leave the mix to ferment for up to three weeks. The compounds created when yeast combines with molasses are called esters.
The esters add flavour to the rum. The longer they let it ferment, the more the esters form, increasing the fragrance and acidity levels considerably.
Know Where Your Rums Come From
Rums can be made anywhere in the world and still be good but the most common origins are around the Caribbean:
- Bacardi- Puerto Rico
- Appleton’s- Jamaica
- Chairman’s Reserve- St. Lucia
- Gosling’s- Bermuda
- Mount Gay- Barbados
Over time, you will learn the different types that exist and how they differ in terms of age and colour.
In picking out the best rums, invest some time into looking at the review and see which ones perform the best according to the critics and start picking your bottle from those recommendations.
After that, you are only a few steps away from making your own cocktails and imbibing in style.