DIY: Spiced Rum

While every liquor store in the world has some variety of spiced rum on hand, there are plenty of reasons to do it yourself. One of the best reaons being it nearly impossible to find organic alcohol in the store, and if you can, it usually is ridiculously expensive. If you are looking at making your own rum (or other spirits) you can buy bulk 190 proof spirits from Oregon’s Organic Alcohol Company, and use that to make organic boozes and bitters. Secondly, you can fine-tune the flavors to whatever suits your tastes, which is really the beauty in spicing your own rum.

Spiced Rum Recipe

1 (750-ml) bottle basic rum (about 3 cups)
1-½ vanilla beans (split lengthwise)
2 slices dried orange peel (3-inch slices)
1 stick cinnamon
7 allspice berries
7 cloves
7 white peppercorns
3 pods cardamom
1 pod star anise
1 2-inch piece of ginger, julienned
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Add all non-liquid ingredients to a wide-mouthed air-tight container, add the rum and seal it up. Let it steep for two days and taste — if you are looking for a more intense flavor leave it for another day. While steeping, periodically give it a shake to agitate the alcohol and spices. After done steeping, strain the contents through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth, and rebottle your finished rum.

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Aside from more time steeping, another way to get a more intense flavor is to use more spices, increasing the amount of vanilla, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. (Most recipes call for just one vanilla bean and cardamom pod, and three to five cloves/allspice berries.)

I have made spiced rum “by the books before,” but I wanted to tweak the recipe on this batch to better suit my taste preferences, which is the beauty of making your own alcohol. To balance out the more intense notes of clove and allspice in this batch, I added extra vanilla and substituted white pepper for the black pepper normally used to spice rum. I also substituted dried orange peel rather than fresh orange peel, mostly because I have a lot of dried orange peel on hand for brewing triple sec (I’ll provide that recipe in an upcoming issue). If you are planning to use fresh orange peel, twisting the peel over your concoction releases the essential oils and the flavors you are trying to extract.

As with any store-bought rum, this will keep forever if properly stored and sealed. Now that you’ve made the rum, it’s time to use it. My favorite rum drink is the Dark and Stormy (rum, ginger beer, and lime), but I also love the occasional Piña Colada, Mojito, and Corn n’ Oil (similar to a Dark and Stormy but with bitters and velvet falernum — I’ll be including a recipe on how to make your own falernum in the next issue of ABV magazine.)

This spiced rum recipe is adapted from an adaption of the recipe used by Martin Cate, the owner of the San Francisco tiki bar the Smuggler’s Cove (check out the Winter copy of ABV for a review of Smuggler’s Cove in our tiki round up). — Mitchell Colbert