Rum is an interesting and varied spirit, however, it can also be confusing. The reason being is the regulation of this spirit varies from country to country. For example, Martinique is well known for their strict Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) regulation, whereas a country like Jamaica has their own Geographical Indication (GI), while a country like the Philippines has no regulations at all.
In addition, there is often a debate about rum classifications. Most commonly you will find rum classified by their colour i.e. light, gold, amber, dark, etc., however, this classification doesn't really explain the type of rum as colour can be added.
In recent years, Luca Gargano from Velier in partnership with Richard Seale from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados has introduced a new rum classification that aims to improve the rum category and help promote a classification closer to the Whisky industry.
The ‘Gargano Classification’ was created and focuses on methods of production, rather than age, country, or blend. It is broken down into four main categories, which are:
Pure Single Rum – 100% batch still, which is comparable to cognac/single malt
Single Blended Rum – blend of batch and traditional continuous still, which is comparable to blended Scotch whisky
Traditional Rum – traditional continuous still i.e. savalle, coffey, etc., which is comparable to American whisky
Rum – multi-column still
This classification is more meaningful to understanding individual rums as the classification relates to the distillation method. It also helps to identify value, tradition and authenticity instead of relying solely on packaging and marketing. This language is being increasing adopted by writers and reviewers when describing rums.