Before he became a published guru on rum, Ed Hamilton switched professions several times over—at one point, he was employed by a company that made cruise missile parts, according to Chicago Reader.

It wasn’t until his unofficially-official stint as a rum smuggler that set about travelling around the French West Indies to find every distillery he possibly could, then documenting his experience with each. He came across 150 different types from 35 distilleries on his first trip. With two more years of exploration under his belt, he wrote and self-published Rums of the Eastern Caribbean. And lo, Hamilton the “Minister of Rum” was born.

When it comes to stocking the right types of rum in your cabinet, Hamilton recommends: Neisson Blanc, Lemon Hart 151, Flor de Caña, Santa Teresa Gran Reserva, and Eldorado 5 Year-Old. Museum buffs and rum fans should visit River Antoine in Grenada, and La Favorite in Martinque. The bars in the United States that get his approval include Whistler in Chicago and NYC’s Caracas Arepa Bar.

Ed’s recipes for two rum cocktails, “West Indian Rum Punch” and “Rum Old Fashioned,” are available at the end of the piece.

[via Food Republic]