I have just watched "How to Drink" - the rum episode.
What though came to my mind is: we are learning and categorizing wrong.
The problem is, that we are looking at the greatest common denominator. But this might confuse us or is even misleading us.
For example rum: yes - mostly it is taught, that rum is made of sugar cane or a sugar cane product. But really - most rums are made from molasses. The few exceptions are Rhum Agricole (which you could argue is a category itself and not passé a rum) and few brands which are made from sugar cane juice. Please note, that cachaça is not considered a rum! The "Brazilian rum" moniker doesn't come from the Brazilians (because there are real rums made in Brazil), but from the 20th century US bureaucracy, which needed to categorize cachaça and "didn't wanted" to give it its own category.
The rums (except of rhum agricole) are made from countries which are not typically producing rum and don't have specific rum-production legislation! For example (or lets say mainly): the United States!
And: not only is the source in traditionally rum producing countries predetermined, but also: aging in oak.
What does it mean?
By finding the greatest common denominator (
rum is a distillate made from sugar cane) we are settling on a half-truth because of small appellations in the Caribbean (Martinique with AOC status, Guadeloupe and Haiti without) and some producer in other countries, which don't even have a legislation nor a recent tradition of producing rum...
Being excluding those exceptions, will make it far easier to understand what rum is:
Rum is a distillate made from sugar cane molasses or sugar cane honey, aged in oak for some time).
Obviously you cannot "fix" the aging period, as different countries, have different legislative - but yes - all classical rum producing countries are aging their rum as well.
Why do I think does it matter?
Because I have heard time and time again total nonsense, because people tend to be confused.
A common misconception: white rum is unaged. But no. Let's for example look at the most consumed spirit brand of the world: Bacardi Carta Blanca. It is aged in oak for at least 6 month.
Even better: Bacardi is at this stage one of the most leading (and wealthiest privately owned) companies, because its founder Facundo Bacardi developed a) a strict regiment and standard for aging (not only the time, but also the treatment of the barrels etc.). b) he adapted charcoal filtering to the rum industry (and c) he introduced specific yeast culture to rum - which is however not related to the topic).
But yes - 90% of all people still think, that Bacardi Carta Blanca is unaged.
It is important to extrapolate the important information out of categories - even though there are then exceptions to the rule. Bartending / mixology is not based on natural laws. That means there can be exceptions and an exception doesn't disprove a rule.