A recent project at my home brought this to light as we worked to completely reorganize/redesign our bar and bottle storage. We had two goals:
1. Develop a better storage system and 2. preserve the vintages and rare bottles of Rum on our shelves.
Rum Collections are not planned, they just happen…
The industry has come a long way in the past ten years and the choices of new Rum releasing from all over the world on a consistent basis mean they are new vintages and bottlings releasing for every Rum lover to enjoy and explore.
Given enough time a collection forms and you have decisions to make. For products that are in active use there is little risk of your Rum going bad but, if you have opened a bottle and for one reason or another it is going to be sitting for a while, you have a few options to help preserve it.
Storage - Racks vs. Shelves
They are only two methods of storing bottles- upright and on their sides.
If you are storing it on shelves and the Rum came in a box, it is good to keep the bottle in it as it provides an extra level of light protection.
Also, when storing your Spirits, the darker and cooler the room the better as long-term heat and sunlight exposure will accelerate evaporation and degrade the flavor of the Spirit.
When storing bottles on their side in a rack system, all the previous rules apply.
If the bottle is opened before storage, make sure the cork is secured tightly or you will have leaks. If the brand is using real cork instead of a synthetic/plastic cork the bottle will need to be rotated every few months and the corks double-checked. Otherwise, the cork breaks down and the liquid is exposed to air which leads us to our next challenge.
When does Rum expire?
An unopened bottle of Rum doesn’t go bad and can last for years. But once the bottle is opened, it’s recommended to drink your Rum within 6 months of opening.
Does Rum freeze?
The typical household freezer is set to minus 18 C (zero Fahrenheit). Pure Rum shouldn’t freeze until the temperature falls to minus 27 C (-17 F), so it is safe in your freezer. Rum liqueurs have a lower ABV and therefore freeze more easily.
However, keeping Rum in the freezer is rare, as you typically want to be tasting it at its full potency and complexity, especially if drinking neat. In other words, if you’re planning on drinking that Rum neat, please do not stick it in the freezer, or it won’t be at its best when you sample it.
Preservation-the battle against oxygen
Oxygen is the true enemy of alcoholic Spirits and as collections grow steps have to be taken to protect your liquid treasure or you will find yourself pouring the liquid out and tossing the bottle in the recycling bin.
While we need oxygen to exist over time it will aggressively destroy the best Spirits in the world if steps are not taken to preserve the liquid.
A preventative step that many collectors take with open bottles is to use Parafilm All-Purpose Laboratory film to wrap around the top of each bottle. This prevents oxygen from seeping in and does a great deal to preserve Rums where only a few ounces of liquid have been removed.
Once the liquid in a bottle reaches the halfway mark things get tricky fast. The oxygen in the bottle will begin mercilessly destroying the alcohol and left alone will slowly destroy the flavor of the Rum and remove distinguishing qualities from the product.
Also, as my recent home project has shown me, the more additives in the Rum, the breakdown of flavor and alcohol increases. I found this especially true in spiced Rums and Rum liqueurs that we had stowed away.
In the rare circumstances that you wish to preserve a half-full bottle of Rum, consider using gas-based alcohol preservation products such as “Private Preserve Wine Preservation system”.
This product, used as directed with the addition of the parafilm wrap, protects the Rum and may seriously extend the viability of the liquid.
Finally, one note on Rum Creams. These products are best refrigerated after opening and should be consumed quickly. In my personal experience after six months, the products degrade and the flavors go off and it is best to dispose of them.
To Infinity and Beyond!!!
Once the liquid in a bottle reaches the one-quarter mark it is time to ponder how to finish the bottle.
Decanting the bottle to a smaller bottle or flask is always a good choice or there is a second fun experimental option for your consideration.
Many Spirit enthusiasts create an Infinity bottle or cask to empty their bottles in. This allows them to create an ever-evolving flavor experience or private home blend for their personal use.
Some enjoy the barrel for the extra twist the wood flavor adds to their blend. To start an infinity barrel, make sure the barrel is properly cured and sealed, then pour in your remnants and let them age for a few weeks. Drain the barrel into a bottle and taste what flavors have come together.
When it is time to add a new Rum to blend, combine the remnant with your blend in the barrel, age, and repeat.
Creating Infinity bottles is easy as all you need to do is pour the remnant in the bottle and give it a shake. Voila! You have a new flavor experience to explore. It is always best to use unadulterated Rums for this project as things can go sideways fast if you add sweetened or spiced Rums/ Eum liqueurs to either project.
Finally, make sure you keep a notepad where you can record what Rums and quantity you put in the barrel or bottle. This will hopefully lead to some happy discoveries and created much-needed shelf space for new bottles.
The final objective no matter if you have twenty bottles or two hundred bottles is that you get the best bang for your buck and protect their value from the degradations of nature.
Most Spirits are consumed quickly over a short period of time and preservation steps are not necessary. However, the longer you are exploring Spirits and your collections grow the more these tips and tricks may be needed to preserve your bottles.
What is your favorite tip or trick for preserving Rum bottles? Let us know in the comments.