The term “rhum arrangè” means “arranged rums” – or rather – flavored.
Rhum arrangé comes from the islands of la Rèunion, Mauritius and nearby Madagascar as well as the french islands in the Caribbean.
It`s house or home made rums flavored with fruits, roots and spices that are macerated for a minimum of 1 month – but it´s actually recommended to let it macerate for 6 months or even longer in many recipes.
There`s a restaurant calld Le Saint-Bernard on La Rèunion (article in french) carrying 400 different rhums arrangées and there´s actually some rhums being macerated as long as 3-4 years!
And here`s a video from the same place:
So it´s not the same thing as spiced rums which are made with spices and roots and not macerated as long as these. And there is no end to what things are put into those bottles to “arrange” the rums…in the first video there was even a jar with a snake and in the second video another with something that looks like sea urchins…but when i look at pictures of rhum arrangè with fruits and spices – it all look so delicious…
Also if you notice there´s two different ways of macerating seen in both videos, one is the traditional common way of submerging the fruits and spices into the rum. Then there´s another where you hang the fruits (usually citrus fruits) as they are or with things inserted into the fruits – like coffee beans and hung above the liquid.
The idea is that the aromatics and oils are derived from the citrus and spices without any bitterness from the pith and that´s the reason this method is usually used for citrus fruits.
Here`s a link to a case study with limoncello.
This method is called D.S.M – or Delicious Scientific Magic!!
DSM – or diffusion – The alcohol, exerting a vapor pressure, will diffuse into the lemons saturating the lemon, thus the loss of alcohol in a closed system.
In turn, the lemon oil will also exert a vapor pressure; the lemon smell you get when you cut the skin. It will diffuse out of the lemon and saturate the alcohol. I find this very interesting and fascinating and i have yet to try it.
Right now i have a traditional rhum arrangè going with tahitian vanilla, it has been macerating 3 weeks, here´s how the color changed for each week:
So what you do to male rhum arrangè vanille is to split 5-8 vanilla beans in two and add to the bottle of rum and then add some sugar or simple syrup, i took a tbsp of brown sugar. Then leave to macerate at least 6 months – or up to a year to bring out the whole flavor.
When you have got the flavor you want in your rum you remove whatever you did put in the bottle otherwise it will keep changing the flavor.
Below is a picture of a ginger flavored rum or rhum arrangè gingembre made by my friend Benoit Bail who operates “Boutey” – which is from the the french crèole word “boutèy” – which is none other than the french word “bouteille” – bottle.
He makes all kinds of rhum arrangees and the top picture plus this one of the ginger rum are courtesy of Benoit. You can visit his page on facebook here.
On the island of La Rèunion there´s a tradition of using the leaves from a regulated wild orchid – Jumellea fragrans, called Faham in rhum arrangé for it´s special flavor which is described as “strange and unforgettable” – hm…that sounds interesting i think..
This orchid is indigenous to the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean, in particular La Réunion. Although it appears to be a protected species, live specimens are occasionally sold in local markets, but usually it´s sold dried in a small packets together with other local herbs and spices, such as cinnamon leaf, cloves, tonka beans etc
You can get the dried faham leaves online and one source is right here where you can find various things for your rhum arrangè.
I have made a few bottles of rhum arrangè over the years and my favorite has always been vanilla and pineapple but there`s some very exotic recipes to try out as well and i tried one long ago. The recipe for it plus the cocktail i made i will re-post now, it´s rum flavored with combava or kaffir lime peel and vanilla.
The word combava is another name for the kaffir lime on la Reunion and combava is used in the creole cuisine on those islands.
1 liter of white rum (traditionally Rhum Charette) or rhum agricole
Grated zest of one combava/kaffir lime
1 vanilla bean, split in two
150g raw cane sugar
Mix and infuse the rum for at least 2 months.
I don`t have Rhum Charette so i took some of my agricole rum from Guyana, La Belle Cabresse which is a very good and interesting rhum agricole and it does have a slightly different flavor than the agricoles from Martinique.
To make the Punch Combava when the rum is ready is simple:
Shake some of this infused rum with ice and serve in a chilled glass with mint and grated coconut rim and ice. I wanted to add some juice to my punch so i added passionfruit juice.
As i didnt have any mint i used only grated coconut on the rim. So the recipe looks like this:
2 oz rhum combava
2 oz passionfruit juice
0.5 oz sugarcane syrup
Shake and serve over cracked ice, rim the glass with grated coconut.
Top with some sprinkled nutmeg.
One of this life`s great pleasures is to taste new rums, and new rums always finds their way into the glasses of the true appreciators.