Who are you?
My name is Ivar de Laat. I was born in Holland but have been living in Canada for over a decade.
In the early 2000’s my rum journey started with drinking Bacardi Coke back home in Holland. Bacardi and Havana Club were typically the only rums one could get in bars those days. Rum had peaked my interest and I slowly started looking for other/better rums.
As a novice drinker with very limited knowledge about rum I looked for advise online and in liquor stores. What I encountered is what I now call the first layer of marketing. It’s from companies with the deepest pockets. This layer is thick and hard to get through as a beginner.
I clearly remember a statement I found somewhere online:”Zacapa is the standard that all other rums are compared to at tasting competitions”. Hence why I started drinking Zacapa 23 and 15, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva (then still labeled as a 12 year), Dictador, Millonario. Luckily I also regularly drank Mount Gay XO and various Appleton rums, but they weren’t my favourites as all I found was people/articles saying sweet, dark (artifical), aged (fake/solera) rum is the best the category has to offer. It is the best, the standard! I wanted to drink the best and and in no time my palate got used to these sweet drinks.
Fast forward to me entering some rum forums on Facebook. A treasure chest of knowledge opened up to me. Lots of people confirming the marketing statements but a small minority saying things like: “sweetness is from added sugar, not from the cask”, “age statements are debatable”, “colouring to mimick ageing” etc. That minority received quite a lot of abuse from the rest but still stuck with it. This intrigued me, as I’m a person who hates being deceived.
Since then I’ve been doing a lot of research to educate myself. Started buying a lot more non sugared rums and through that realized these were typically far more layered and complex than the sugar bombs. This made me somewhat of an advocate for that rum style. At the same time I felt duped. I wished I had started with these rums as I would have avoided a lot of time and money wasting.
By now I’ve been to a few more distilleries, multiple rum events and have tried rums from most corners of the world. I’m still not an expert but at least it’s much harder to fool me nowadays.
Why are you doing this?
Passion for rum! I love the diversity of this spirit, the people who make it and the fellow enthusiasts. Apart from rum being an extremely enjoyable drink, there are lots of great people amongst producers and consumers. The willingness to educate, share knowledge and share rum is very high. Rum family is real!
Second reason is to try and bring more awareness to rum in Canada, with a focus on Toronto. Our liquor stores (LCBO) have a mediocre rum selection and I’d like to see that changed. For that to happen, consumers and bartenders need to be more educated on this beautiful spirit. I’m hoping to make a tiny difference in this.
I’m not working for anyone in the industry. I’m a guy who loves to talk and promote rum independently.
Is there a method behind the scoring?
The scale is 0-100, with 100 being the best. There aren’t any academics behind the way I will score a rum. I do this based on how it compares to other rums I’ve tried. They aren’t static and can change over time because of new rums coming on the market and my palate developing over time. Taste, smell and product transparency are important to me. Pretty packaging is not.
This is roughly how the scores translate:
00-30 I wouldn't drink this, even if it was free
30-50 I might drink this, as long as I don’t have to buy it
50-70 Good rum, I’d potentially buy this to drink or mix
70-80 Great rum, I’d mostly sip this
80-90 Excellent rum, the sipping experience of my dreams
90-100 Oh my….
Don’t forget, this is my personal experience. Yours can be totally different.
What's the Deceit-O-Meter about?
It shows my personal opinion on how deceiving the product is. Nobody likes to be deceived, transparency should be high so that consumers can make a well informed decision on what they are spending their money on and what they are putting in their bodies. I feel this deserves extra attention.
Here’s a list of items that can influence the score:
- Misleading age statements
- Numbers on labels that look like age statements, but aren’t
- Added sweeteners (sugar, sweet wines, glycerin etc)
- Misleading marketing slogans
- Heavy colouring used to mimick cask ageing
- False/vague statements on origin and/or distillery
Zero to low
Do you have a favourite rum?
I don’t. It changes all the time. I do have a favourite style. First, I prefer molasses rum over agricole. Within the molasses category there are four countries I always look to first. Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia and Guyana. To me these are the foundations of rum.
I prefer boldness over subtlety, hence why I’m not a huge fan of most Cuban rum. I’m in favour of a rum slapping me in the face. Strong sweetness through added sugar doesn’t have my preference. Not all of these rums are bad but it typically doesn’t work for my palate.
This gives a small insight in what I prefer, which can explain part of the scoring.