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Why are the cheapest rums usually in taller bottles than the best rums?


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Paul B (PREMIUM)

Posted 7 Feb '21 from United States with 369 ratings

Check out the picture of my rum shelf with opened bottles. I built this shelf in the mid seventies to hold all of my vinyl record albums at the time. I designed the top shelf to be 13 inches tall and the two bottom shelves to be 10 inches tall each. This was so that I could place the empty jacket of albums on the turntable into the extra space above the top shelf. It has now become my rum cabinet of the best opened bottles. Many more of my rums are stashed away in the dark. The bottom shelf is not used because the morning sunlight hits that part of this cabinet.

So that extra three inches of height only allows for the tallest rum bottles to be placed there, except for my Brinley Gold Shipwreck bottles, which are even taller. The next shelf lower happens to have some really great rums and these bottles are all less than 10 inches high.

Is this just a coincidence, or have I stumbled upon another way of classifying rums based upon bottle height and width?

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Rene Rum

From Switzerland with 390 ratings Replied 7 Feb '21

I think it's coincidence, it depends on the bottler.
My tallest bottle is the Clairin with 35 cm (13.8 inch) in the mid-price range, followed by bottlings from Berry's 34 cm (13.4 inch) which is a 18 years old Caroni and not cheap in any way.
Plantation bottlings are 32 cm (12.6 inch) which have variety prices (40$ - 200$) and all the same height. There are some odd Plantation bottles with 26 cm (10.2) and mostly cheaper ones and the XO 20th Anniversary with 27 cm (10.6 inch).
Savanna bottles just 50 cl, and with 30 cm (11.8 inch) not really a dwarf and far away from cheap.
National Rums of Jamaica bottles are 30 cm (11.8 inch) too, Long Pond 2007 TECC, not cheap.
Goslings and Coruba are some of my mixers are in the mid tall range with 29 cm (11.4 inch).
Samaroli (high end Caroni) comes with 28 cm (11 inch), Bristol Classic with 27 cm (10.6 inch) and different prices. Habitation Velier bottles are 25 cm (9.8 inch), Rum Nation bottles 23 cm (9 inch), Dictador 22 cm (8.7 inch).
My dwarf bottle are Ultimatum Rum bottles, Caroni, Uitvlugt, Worthy Park... with 19 cm (7.5 inch) and a swiss rum, the 1653 Old Barrel Rum only 50 cl with 17 cm (6.7 inch).
So, now you can make your own mind.

What's happened with your vinyl’s?

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 369 ratings Replied 7 Feb '21

Rene:

In 1989, I cried when vinyls were no longer made and I was forced to switch to CD's. A few years later after learning to love my lightweight CD's, I wound up selling most of my vinyl albums. However, I did buy the book on what made each album valuable and only kept about a two foot section that I still have. Some are worth thousands, but I am in no hurry to sell, if at all. My CD collection is now huge and I will never part with them, even if the best of them have all been ripped to MP3.

Memories of my old vinyl collection have also inspired me to drink my rums instead of collecting them. What you see in this cabinet is finally set up for sampling on this Super Bowl Sunday. Five of these bottles were just opened this morning. Go Chiefs!!!!

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Kamamura

From Czech Republic with 31 ratings Replied 8 Feb '21

Well, here are my three hypotheses.

1) Appealing to naval origins of rum - a short, squat bottle has obvious advantages to a tall, thinner one onboard of a ship tortured by endless waves - it's more stable, less likely to topple, roll somewhere and break, with its flammable contents potentially creating a disaster. Although simple rum for the crew did not use bottles at all, being stored in barrels in the cargo hold, and then diluted in a huge tub (with "God Save the King!" written on it in royal navy), and finally transferred to those small metallic mugs sailors used for rum rations, the good stuff, be it aged rum, port, cognac or expensive whiskey in the captain's cabin was always in that squat bottle, reserved for important guests and serious talks.

2) Similarity with human physiology - today, it's different, but throughout the history, being a portly, round fellow meant some sort of social importance and status. One had to posses substantial assets to eat well enough to grow a belly, and at the same time afford being less mobile and exert less energy - a working man or a peasant ate humble rations and worked with his hands whole day, so he seldom grew fat. Italians have a phrase "a man with a belly", meaning someone with wisdom, influence and wealth, Japanese term "hara" speaks not only about the size of one's stomach, but also about his spiritual balance, his mental stability and conviction. If you see Buddha's statues, he is not depicted as an ascetic athlete - on the contrary, though he allegedly spent time meditating and living an ascetic life. So similarly, a squat, portly bottle decorated with gold or ornamental lettering should probably be associated with value, with a prized, treasured object, a result of sustained effort and care.

3) Effect on the color - since darker liquor is (incorrectly) considered longer aged, and thus more valuable (the liberal use of caramel coloring not only in rum industry negates that), it's advantageous to use a short, thicker bottle, because the light passes through greater volume of the rum, which then seems darker than in a tall, thin bottle.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 369 ratings Replied 8 Feb '21

Kamamura:

That is absolutely brilliant!!!! However, I would like to add that tall skinny bottles are much easier for bartenders in the USA to grab.

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Kamamura

From Czech Republic with 31 ratings Replied 8 Feb '21

Yes, but the bottles US bartenders grab are usually not bottles of premium, aged, and expensive rums. It you have to pour 20 daiquiris for a party of guests, you will probably reach for some younger Flor de Cana rum, Havana Club Anejo, Bacardi or perhaps Brugal - all in conveniently tall bottles, easy to grab and control with a flick of a wrist, often with a stopper at the neck of the bottle to prevent unscrupulous "refills". If you notice bottles of young Flor de Cana, they are even rectangular, so that they are easier to pack into creates and fill economically space in rows on bar shelves.

On the other hand, premium bottles often command a lot of space for themselves, being crown jewels of a home bar or a private collection. BTW I was surprise how few really good bottles bar often have. It just does not sell.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 369 ratings Replied 8 Feb '21

Kamamura:

Most bars in the USA assume that most rum drinkers don't give a rat's ass about which rum that they drink or get in their mojito or other mixed drink. With this basic assumption, it is simply not cost effective to stock premium rums for the mostly bourbon drinking public where I live. However, specially designated rum bars will pride themselves in their expensive rum collection. There are only two of these places where I live near a city of a half million people (and all are closed due to the pandemic).

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Rene Rum

From Switzerland with 390 ratings Replied 8 Feb '21

@Kamamura

Great hypotheses !

Interesting thoughts.

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