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Rum

Rum is such an evocative spirit. It transforms, transcends and instantly transports the drinker to the sun-washed shores of the West Indies; white sands, palm trees and blue seas. It always has a sense of joviality, in part thanks to its Caribbean origins, and also because of the unabashed decadence surrounding a libation made from sugar.

The kind of sugar used is one of the key differentiating factors in rum production. In the Spanish and British Antilles, for example, rum is traditionally distilled from molasses - a by-product of sugar production. In the French Caribbean islands, however, sugarcane juice (sometimes called sugarcane honey) is used instead of molasses. Countries like Martinique and Guadeloupe are famed for producing spirit distilled from sugarcane juice, known as rhum agricole - French for 'agricultural rum'. The spirit is often made in a way that more closely resembles the distillation of some of the famous French brandies, such as Cognac or Armagnac. Younger varieties often exude a tangy, herbal flavour, whilst the aged varieties (often matured in Cognac casks) will offer up subtlety and complexity, just like any fine aged spirit.

The Caribbean has been cultivated for sugar for centuries, and the various occupiers, be they Spanish, French or English, have their own terms for the spirit; Ron, Rhum and, of course, Rum, respectively.

As far as British involvement with the spirit, there has always been a strong connection with the Royal Navy. Indeed, at one time the Navy afforded their sailors a half pint of rum as part of their daily ration. The rum was traded and export grew in large part because of the export possibilities that sea travel brought about.

Many competing arguments exist as to the origins of the term "rum”. The most convincing is that it is a shortened version of "rumbullion” – a word meaning great uproar and noise, and a good reminder of the often violent, dramatic history of rum. Other terms have existed, including "kill devil” which was used to describe spirit distilled from molasses.

Due to the huge geographical territory in which rum is produced, there are many variants in production, the type of still being one of the most obvious. Usually, pot stills are used to distil thick, rich, aged rums (El Dorado 15 and El Pusser’s are good examples). Continuous column stills, on the other hand, are used to produce white spirits best associated with cocktails.

Maturation is an interesting aspect too. White rums are either unaged or aged only very briefly. Classics such as Bacardi Superior are crisp and tangy and work brilliantly well in cocktails. Gold rums tend to be a mix of spirit old and new, and also work nicely in cocktails, with an increase in complexity and flavour. For the connoisseurs of sipping spirit, however, dark rums are the preference. These can be tremendously refined and delicious, thanks in no small part to the tropical nature of the climate. The hot weather allows Caribbean rums to mature particularly rapidly - at as much as thrice the rate of Scotch Whisky . In this respect a 15 year old rum is the equivalent of a 45 year old whisky!

Other geographical factors come into play too, and some of the top rum-producing countries have attained their own unique style.

Jamaica is perhaps one of the most prolific rum nations today, with its own unique style. Prior to distillation, the molasses are typically allowed to ferment for a great length of time. This is then followed by distillation in pot stills. The result is intensity and body, often with notes of tropical fruit and banana. Appleton Estate and Wray and Nephew are superlative examples.

Barbados is another prime rum territory. One of the original islands to begin rum distillation, Barbadian rums are often superbly balanced, with deliciously aromatic tendencies. There are three main distilleries on the island (West Indies Rum Distillery, Mount Gay and Foursquare), and each makes use of pot stills. These are easy-drinking rums, with some of the longer-aged variants (Doorly’s XO, for example) working brilliantly as sipping spirits.

Guyana is one of our favourite rum nations, thanks in no small part to the heavy, Demerara rums bottled in the El Dorado range. These are full-bodied spirits, traditionally the main constituent in British Navy rum. Made in a mix of pot stills and column stills, there is quite a variety of flavour to be found. Where once there were more than 200 distilleries, today there is only one. We suggest you seek out El Dorado 15 for an example of just how good Guyana rum can be!

Latin America is home to the lighter, fresher cocktail rums. The popularity of such spirit (with the advent of the recent cocktail revolution) has transformed the place into the most prolific region of all. It all started, however, with Bacardi, originally produced in Cuba before the country's factories were nationalised. Today, Bacardi is made in Puerto Rico, and the classic Carta Blanca remains a mainstay for many cocktails including the Daiquiri. Countries such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Venezuela and Trinidad play hosts to some of the world's top distilleries. Brands such as Ron Zacapa, Brugal and Pampero - among many others - are well worth a look.

Whilst not always thought of as a true rum, this introduction would not be complete without a mention of Cachaça. The famous spirit, made almost exclusively in Brazil, is traditionally enjoyed as part of a Caipirinha cocktail, and its production closely resembles Rhum Agricole. It is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice, and is bottled at between 38% and 54%ABV. One interesting aspect is the legally permissible addition of up to six grams of sugar per litre, giving the spirit additional sweetness. Varieties are sold both aged and unaged, with the former being a more premium style thanks to the extra complexity imbued by the use of wooden barrels. To sample some fine Cachaça, look for the superb distilleries Germana and Abelha. We recommend you enjoy the aged varieties neat, whilst the tangier white Cachaça is best drunk in the aforementioned Caipirinha - a cocktail made simply with two shots of Cachaça, half a lime and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Delicious!

Recently, rum has surged in popularity. Its regard as a fine cocktail mixer is good and widespread and a number of the world’s most popular drinks are rum-based - the Daiquiri and the Mojito being two prime examples. It is only recently, though, that our beloved rum has really been enjoyed en masse as a standalone beverage of true merit, and this new direction is excellent, for rum is as much a connoisseur’s libation as any other dark spirit. Like all dark spirits, a stemmed tulip glass is best for optimum palate entry and for focusing the aroma.

Rum

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Inner Circle is an Australian rum made using top quality sugar from Fiji. This is the red edition, that's right - red rum, we've taken quite a shining to it.  More info
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This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info
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An indulgent 15 year old rum from Ron Mulata, produced in Cuba, exclusively making use of their top quality Cuban cane syrup. It has been aged in 180 litre oak casks, which the distillers say give it...  More info
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Atlantico Private Cask is a thick, toffee-rich, woody dark rum from the Dominican Republic, blended from small batch rums aged between 15 and 25 years.  More info
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Diplomático Añejo
(70cl, 40%)
A supple, medium bodied rum from Diplomático, this Añejo is a blend of both continuous and pot still rums and is aged for around 4 years.  More info
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The Original Recipe. That's right, this is the original recipe, before they changed it. For all of you who miss the glorious flavour of old school Sailor Jerry, well here it is!  More info
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Ancient Mariner Rum was conceived to revive the classic rum as enjoyed by the Royal Navy up until 1970. After sourcing a sample of the original rum, the recipe was recreated with spirit sourced from...  More info
$72.87
New Grove Spiced Rum
(70cl, 37.50%)
Superbly spiced rum from the island of Mauritius, which sits in the Indian Ocean. New Grove have struck a fine balance between classic sweet rum notes of citrus and honey and the hot notes driven by...  More info
$40.68
Iceberg Silver Rum
(70cl, 40%)
A white rum from those Canadian chaps at Iceberg, "the only people crazy enough to physically harvest icebergs"! You can tell this one's from Canada because it has a maple leaf on it.  More info
$54.32
This 20 year old Mocambo Mexican rum was produced in Cordoba by Licores Veracruz. A single cask rum, aged in European white oak.

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$73.20
A gift pack including a 70cl bottle of Bacardi's popular 8 year old premium rum and two handsome tumblers.  More info
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20 year old single cask rum from Mocambo, presented in a bottle designed by Victor Fernández using natural bark fibres to create a traditionally styled piece of art, and no two bottles are alike! Not...  More info
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After being put through a pot still, this Hampden rum from Jamaica is matured in the cask for 12 years and then bottled at cask strength by WM Cadenhead. You don't see this sort of thing every day!  More info
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Well aged Cuban rum from the Sancti Spiritus distillery, using their continuous still method, and bottled by one Scotland's oldest independent bottlers, WM Cadenhead. These two make quite a team...  More info
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A Rhum Fantasia made by Baldoni in Ancona, Italy. This antique bottle was produced over 40 years ago in the 1960s. This is a 100cl bottle, larger than most.  More info
$234.59
10 year old Rhum Agricole from Guadeloupe, distilled at the Gardel distillery. This was bottled for the new Alchemist range.  More info
Ancient Italian Rhum di Fantasia, produced in the 1970s by Olivieri. This is a large 100cl bottling.  More info
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The Diamond distillery doesn't distil diamonds. No, they make something much better: rum! Duncan Taylor have bottled a single cask of their excellent 10 year old rum from Guyana, with an outturn of...  More info
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This is an early 1980s bottling of Havana Club Añejo rum, which was aged for 7 years before it was bottled, which is rather impressive indeed. A very rare bottle of Cuban rum.  More info
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A 13 year old rum released by Berry Brothers & Rudd, distilled at the Foursquare distillery in Barbados.  More info
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St Aubin Agricole Rhum Vanilla is a delicious, laid back rum combined with vanilla grown on the St Aubin plantations in Mauritius. The sugary addition from the vanilla makes this an excellent rum for...  More info
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Despite being labelled as rum this Plantation Single cask would, under different circumstances, be known as rhum - being made not from molasses but instead from sugarcane juice on Guadeloupe. However...  More info
This is a beautiful decanter of Lamb's 100 Navy Rum, which was bottled (decanted?) at 57% ABV. It was produced over 30 years ago in the 1970s. The decanter itself features the HMS Victory, the...  More info
$234.59
A rare, collectible piece of Naval memorabilia from Lamb's. This is a ceramic decanter produced in the 1970s containing Lamb's 100 Navy Rum, a high proof Guyanese rum which has been bottled at 57%...  More info
$234.59

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