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Does alcohol-free rum taste like rum?

alcohol free rum in a glass

One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.

And we think you’ll agree that rum, made from the waste byproducts of the sugar industry, is a pretty rum-arkable beverage. Let’s dive straight in to find out more about this sweet and heady liquor, including what it’s made from, what it tastes like and the best alcohol-free alternatives for rum.

alcohol free rum cocktail

What is rum?

Rum is a distilled spirit made from any number of sugarcane products, including raw cane juice, cane syrup, white/brown cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar and cane molasses. The majority of rums are made using molasses since this is a cheap byproduct of the sugar industry; waste not, want not!

Despite always being made from sugarcane, rum demonstrates huge variety in the production process, which can have a significant impact on the flavour and colour of the finished product, from the light-bodied rums favoured in Cuba and Puerto Rico to the heavier and spicier rums of Jamaica. White, gold, navy, spiced, rhum agricole, premium aged, overproof and even coconut, there are plenty of rum varieties to choose from!

alcohol free rum in a glass

The origins of rum

The fermentation of sugarcane has been documented as far back as ~350 BC in India but the majority of these ferments were used for medicinal purposes. It wasn’t until the slave trade was rife in the American colonies that rum was first mentioned as a drink in mid-17th Century records from Barbados.

Slaves were imported to the West Indies to work on sugar plantations, where they cultivated and extracted sugarcane products. It’s thought that they collected the molasses (the syrupy byproduct), which they then fermented and distilled into alcohol. Known as “rumbullion” or kill-devil”, it took a few years before rum evolved into the delicious spirit it is today.

alcohol free rum being poured into a glass

Legend has it…

The dark spirit’s history is just as deep and rich as its flavour. A tot of rum (1/8th of a pint) was a standard ration provided to members of the Royal Navy. That is, until the 31st of July 1970, when it was banned on what became known as Black Tot Day; mock funerals were held to commemorate rum rations, complete with coffins and marching bands. But rum (or its ancestor, aguardiente de caña) had already made an appearance on Royal Navy ships, centuries before it was rationed; sailors have been knocking back rum mojitos to ward off scurvy since the 1500s!

Meanwhile, the taxation and regulation of rum were contributing factors to the American Revolution and the 1808 Rum Revolt in Australia. What’s more, a barrel of rum was purportedly used to store Admiral Horatio Nelson’s body after he was shot by a French sniper in the early 19th Century! Whilst it was later confirmed that Nelson’s body was in fact pickled in brandy, the story did give rise to the old nickname for rum, “Nelson’s blood”, as well as a popular sea shanty. According to legend, the sailors drilled holes in the barrel, and sucked out Nelson’s spirit through straws, draining the barrel dry before they made it back to Blighty.

Does alcohol-free rum exist?

Sort of. Most alcohol-free rum starts off as alcoholic rum, which then has its alcohol removed. This process ensures that the alcohol alternative shares some of the same flavours and mouthfeel as its alcoholic counterpart, but traces of alcohol remain. Yes, the levels of ethanol are lower than some food products, such as ripe bananas, but the alcohol-free rum has still undergone a fermentation process and not everyone considers it “non-alcoholic”. They also often lack the same depth of flavour that alcoholic rum provides.

CROSSIP 0% spirits, however, undergo a different process. Instead of brewing and distilling our drinks, we macerate sustainable ingredients and steep them to extract the flavour. That makes our spirits, including the Dandy Smoke, 100% alcohol-free.

CROSSIP rum alternative

Is CROSSIP Dandy Smoke a non-alcoholic substitute for rum?

At CROSSIP, we don’t imitate. Instead, we take inspiration from alcoholic spirits and create flavours that evoke the same sensory experience as some of our favourite cocktails, without the negative effects of alcohol.

Our unique maceration process does well to emulate the mouthfeel of rum, creating a textural sensation on the tongue not dissimilar to alcohol. Furthermore, by soaking multiple fruits and botanicals together, the individual flavours combine to generate a delicious piquancy that is more than the sum of its parts, meaning our Dandy Smoke exhibits many similar flavours to rum.

Whilst we would never claim that Dandy Smoke is alcohol-free rum, it can be used effectively as an alcohol alternative in rum-style drinks, including Daiquiris, Rum Old Fashioneds, Mojitos and Pitcher Cocktails.

alcohol free rum cocktail

Why not try our Smokey Daiquiri and taste it for yourself?

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