The Best Rum To Drink If You're Concerned About The Environment

When you're at a bar or liquor store deciding what to drink, the way certain spirits impact the environment probably isn't your main deciding factor. In fact, it might not be something you consider at all. But like other mass-manufactured, widely-distributed consumer products, certain liquors and alcohol production methods can have quite a negative impact on the Earth (via Salon). One spirit in particular that can be very un-green is rum.

Rum's environmental impact is nothing new — in 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency published a report to Congress, detailing how the Caribbean rum industry affects the marine environment in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Unsurprisingly, they found that dumping "untreated wastes" from rum distilleries into the ocean poses toxic risks. Additionally, rum production, especially on a large scale, requires a lot of water, land, fuel, and sugarcane (via IWSR).

If you're a big rum drinker (or a pirate), don't despair. This doesn't mean you need to swear off the stuff for good. It just means you must be intentional and informed about which rums you reach for when happy hour rolls around. Don Q, a Puerto Rican rum brand, prioritizes making quality rum in a way that's also environmentally responsible.

How rum can be made responsibly

The reason Don Q rum ranks better than the rest when it comes to environmental impact lies in the company's approach to wastewater, or the waste liquid left after the fermentation process. According to their website, they first use special bacteria to "digest" some of the wastewater's raw waste. The bacteria releases compounds called biogas, which are utilized instead of crude oil to help power boilers used in the distillation process. The remaining solid waste is removed and repurposed for compost and mulch. The remaining liquid waste components are oxygenated, digested by more bacteria, filtered, and eventually turned into irrigation-grade water.

In an interview with Edible Manhattan, Don Q rum maker Roberto Serralles (who is part of the family that has owned the company since the 1800's) explains he was getting his Ph.D. in environmental studies before he formally joined the family business.

If you're looking for more options, Salon also suggests rums made with organic ingredients, like Drake's, Crusoe, or Paraguayan rum Papagayo.

As the world becomes more environmentally-conscious, more liquor brands may follow in Don Q's path. Even rum giant Bacardi Limited plans on shifting to 100 percent biodegradable bottles by the year 2023.