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So Much Rum. So Little Time.

There are bars that function as places to rest, refresh and enjoy the company of others. While these are perfectly agreeable, I prefer the ones that offer bottled adventure. These are the places where a scan of the shelves reveals a selection of esoteric brands and varieties that beg for indulgence.

It was just such an encounter that launched an extended drinking adventure that started in Guyana, meandered over to Venezuela, and strayed into the Caribbean. We then stumbled back across the Panama Canal heading northwards into Guatemala and, not knowing exactly how we got there, ended up in Key West, Florida.

If you have not figured it out, this was a flavor packed, eye opening, mind bending, and highly informative cocktail crawl that featured a variety of undeniably intriguing and enjoyable better-than-average rums.

The adventure started with El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve, followed by Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva, The Real McCoy 12 Year Rum, Zaya Gran Reserva, and Ron Zacapa 23 Centenerio. It also included Pyrat XO and Plantation Grande Reserve - both blends containing a variety of Caribbean rums. Of course, as long as we were sampling blends, the sensuously smooth curves of a bottle of Papa's Pilar Dark Rum managed to attract our attention as well.

While brands such as Bacardi, Myers's, Gosling's and Captain Morgan are perfectly suited for bar service, especially if mixed into cocktails, the rums we sampled are in a class all their own. These are sipping rums that, to be properly enjoyed, demand a certain amount of slow and careful attention - the rich, dark, and wonderfully aromatic rums that have been perfectly crafted and aged, bringing out a range of flavors that includes caramel, molasses, honey, banana, orange, and vanilla. Depending on the brand you choose, each has its own distinctive character that, along with some of the traits just mentioned, includes essences that could easily be used to describe confectionery.

Perhaps it's their sweetness. Perhaps it's their smooth drinkability. Regardless, these exquisite potions come highly recommended are should not be missed.

While the adventure continues (there are so many rums and not enough time), it is always important to seek shelter from time to time, just long enough to recharge batteries, get a fresh change of clothes, and pack a little solid food under the belt - everything that's essential to support yet another voyage around the world, viewed through the lens of a perfectly served cocktail.

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