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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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Origin Gin
Smooth Ambler Distillery
Mature Your Own Kit
Balcones Whisky Distillery
Yamazaki Whisky Distillery
The Lost Distilleries Blend
A 1980s bottling of Bacardi Carta Blanca. This is a full litre bottle of the classic white rum.  More info
Antich is a once-produced Spanish rum, from Barcelona. This number "77" was bottled sometime in the 1970s. Unusual stuff!  More info
A large, litre bottle of 1970s Bacardi Carta Blanca. Use this to make a perfect Daiquiri, or a crisp, refreshing Mojito…  More info
This rum was distilled at the Four Square distillery in Barbados and bottled by Scottish Islay distillers, Bruichladdich. This rum was aged in Banyuls casks which, for the uninitiated, are sweet wine...  More info
This is a rare bottling of Cooper's Finest Quality Demerara Rum from the 1950's and would look fantastic in any spirits collection.  More info
$193.07
Bacardi Reserve
(75cl, 40%)
This is an old bottling of the Bacardi golden rum known as the Bacardi Reserve.  More info
$78.76
Wood's Old Navy Rum
(75cl, 40%)
This is a 1980's bottling of Wood's Navy Rum made from demerara sugar.  More info
$144.64
A dark rum, aged for up to 7 years in old casks. The Captain Morgan blend contains rums from Jamaican, Guyanan and Bajan rums. This bottle is adorned with an old label.  More info
$24.15
This is a 1980's bottling of Barcardi's golden rum. Barcardi fled Cuba when Fidel Castro wanted the distillery for himself, well you can't blame the guy...

N.B. Highball glass not included in box.  More info
$154.45
Bacardi Reserve - 1980s
(70cl, 37.50%)
A 1980s bottling from Bacardi. Rum geeks? Christmas has come early.  More info
$154.45
This is a collectable and antique Jamaican rum from the 1960's with a punchy alcoholic strength of 54%abv.  More info
$96.53
This is a Jamaican golden rum produced in the 1960's. As well as being a collectable piece it can offer an antique twist to daiquiri!  More info
$96.53
Stroh is a strong rum from Austria, this bottling is a white rum from the 1960's and is particularly rare.  More info
$96.53
This rum hails from the 1960s and is a fantastic little number. Be aware that the level of the rum has dropped to the shoulder of the bottle.  More info
$231.68
This is a litre bottle of the famous white rum from Bacardi bottled back in the 1980s and is great for adding an antique twist to a cocktail or punch!  More info
$193.07
This is the Gold Label of the ever popular Captain Morgan's Rum bottled in the 1980s and is great for adding a vintage twist to a cocktail, or even just for drinking neat with a cube or two of ice!  More info
$115.84
This is what happens why you cross Malibu with a snow globe. This is malibu with snow-like flakes of coconut swirling around inside.  More info
$33.64
Cruzan is a golden rum from St Croiz which is aged in oak barrels for up to twelve years. Cruzan have been making rum since the Eighteenth century as such they have truly perfected their craft...  More info
$43.36
This is a honey and cream liqueur with a Caribbean rum base produced in the 1970s. This is both collectable and a great ingredient for an antique cocktail.  More info
$77.23
This is a very rare and collectible bottle of dark Demerara rum, produced in the 1960s and bottled by Greenalls. It hails from British Guiana and has a superb flavour...  More info
$193.07
This is a delicious dark rum from the French Antilles, it was bottled in the 1970s by the French company Bardinet. Very rare.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (2.0/5)
$115.84
Bacardi 151 Rum - 1980s
(75cl, 75.50%)
This is a high-proof, "151" dark rum from Bacardi - the world's most famous spirit of its kind. This particular bottling was made in the 1980s and is thus rather rare.  More info
$96.53
Ron Arehucas - 1970s
(100cl, 40%)
This is a golden rum from Ron Arehucas which was produced in the 1970s in the Canary Islands. It was distilled from molasses and works nicely in cocktails...  More info
$115.84
This is a very rare and collectible bottle of honey rum, or Ron Miel, made in Antigua in the 1970s.  More info
$77.23
This was made by the Cocal company in the Canary Islands. It was produced in the 1970s and is a lovely mix of molasses rum and honey... Delicious!  More info
$115.84

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ATOM Supplies Ltd trading as Master of Malt. Registered office: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BE. Registered in England & Wales. Company number 3193057, VAT number GB 662241553.