The question of whether something is bullshit is a persistent one among rum lovers. Today, the spirit has a reputation—one that's mostly been earned—as a low-quality party fuel, suitable for sweet boat drinks and underage guzzling. "Rum is a junk category," says San Francisco bartender Thad Vogler. "Virtually all of it is garbage." This is not to say Vogler is a rum hater: He opened Bar Agricole, named in tribute to the Martinique style, in 2010. (It has been a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's bar program award every year since 2012.) The problem, to Vogler and other frustrated rum enthusiasts, is twofold. On the low end, the rum trade is dominated by a handful of enormous distilleries that flood the market with flavorless industrial liquor, essentially vodka that happens to be made from sugarcane, much of it subsidized by one government or another.