Gargano Classification | an overview

Gargano Classification | an overview

It’s globally recognized that the rum market is having a great success in this historic moment. But a significant part of this success is due to a huge number of brands and consequently a big confusion in what rum means. This confusion hides the risk that it could be only a short term success.

The category of rum includes rums from distilleries, rum which are only brands, private labels, rums aged in tropical weather or in continental weather. It has no real distinction among different categories (apart from AOC rhum agricole). Velier was the first company, more than 20 years ago, to bring the concept of three ‘styles’ in order to make a distinction in European market among Latin rums, British rums and French rums. Helpful in that time, but bit inconsistent now. Velier continues to work to propose to the trade world and rum community a unique language among different categories. We think that rum’s long-term success requires these huge difference brought to light, both among products and among producers.


The following classification has been created by Luca Gargano in 2015 and promoted together with Richard Seale of Foursquare distillery (Barbados). It is based on distillation method, the only exhaustive method to include all types of rum. It is not a way to understand quality but rather an objective method to classify, giving credibility and value to the whole category of rum.

On top there’s the general distinction on raw materials: sugarcane juice, syrup and molasses. On the first level of the diagram below, we find the Single Rum, distilled in batch still (1), an artisanal process which best expresses the raw material and the know-how of the distiller. On the second level, we find Single Blended Rum, a blend of rum distilled in column and batch still (2). At the third level, we find the traditional Rum which is distilled in traditional single or double columns (3). At the fourth level we find the Rum produced in large volumes with modern multi-column distillation systems (4). The classification can only apply to rums that state their distillery source, both if they are original distillery bottlings and independent bottlings. Rums that do not have a distillery statement are impossible to classify because we do not know how they are made and where they come from.

* Icons refer to the four types of stills used to produce rum.

the cornerstone of the Gargano Classification

Rum is made from sugar cane or from his by-products; a very aromatic plant that in distillation express specifical characters that with the aging process it develops a complex and high quality distillate. All this is realized thanks to its raw material, to the kind of fermentation, to the distillation and to the aging process. But no one raw material and no one properly fermentation, if distilled in a multi-column, can produce a product that express the quality of the raw material. For this reason is essential that the cornerstone of the classification is the distillation which is the benchmark used in the whisky world, cognac, calvados, mezcal and other spirits.

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