A lot of rum is dark and packed with spices, waiting to be drowned in soda.
But it doesn't have to be.
Gentry and Rebecca Lassiter, owners of Lassiter Distilling Company in Knightdale, want people to drink their rum neat or on the rocks. Maybe in a fresh mixed drink. But, most of all, they want to change the way people think about the liquor.
"I think part of (rum's perception) is people just haven't been exposed to fantastic products," Gentry Lassiter said on the 919 Beer Podcast. "I've had Havana Club from Cuba, and its awesome.You can't go wrong with it. But those kinds of qualities aren't things that people are used to seeing in rums."
One of the problems, he said, is that there are too many "bells and whistles" in most American rums that can detract from or cover up the natural characteristics of the sugar cane-based liquid. Instead, the Lassiters want the spirit to hold up on its own.
"If you look for it, you can find (good rums). There are some other big brands that have 23-year aged Solera-style rums that are excellent. I mean, they're as good as any kind of scotch that you can buy in the market, but people aren't used to it."
For now, they have two products: the clear North Carolina Rum and the N.C. Amber Rum, which is aged in white oak barrels that give off vanilla, caramel and toffee notes like those found in a bourbon.
The Gentrys recommend sipping on the Amber and trying to clear in a Mai Tai.