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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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(50cl, 50%)
St Aubin Rhum Agricole comes from Mauritius, and is made by distilling fresh sugar cane juice in the French method. St Aubin itself has been in the business of sugar production since 1819, and started...  More info
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From the artisan St Aubin distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this spiced Thum Agricole, made using sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses, which is what you would find in most other spiced...  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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A Duncan Taylor bottling of St. Lucia single cask pot still rum. It came into this universe in September 2002 and spent 11 years maturing in an oak cask until February 2014. A release of 226 bottles.  More info
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A special edition rum from St Lucia Distillers, named after the year the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. In 1972, the Dennery Distillery merged with another to form St. Lucia Distillers...  More info
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A special edition rum from St Lucia Distillers, named after the year that the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. In 1972, the Dennery Distillery merged with another to form St. Lucia...  More info
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Single cask rum! You don't see that every day! This comes from the St. Lucia distillery, who also produce the Chairman's Reserve brand of rum. The cask used for this release was cask number 5, which...  More info
$109.52
A stunning 10 year old dark rum created at the North of Barbados at St Nicholas Abbey, owned by Larry Warren. This is made by blending pot and column still rums which were acquired by Larry when he...  More info
$119.83
St Nicholas Abbey in Barbados won Best Distillery at Rumfest 2012, whilst this rare single cask 15 year old offering won a Gold at the Rum Masters.  More info
$260.16
A white rum from the St Nicholas Abbey distillery in Barbados. Winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, the highest medal awarded in its category.  More info
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As experts in making eau-de-vie and capturing the spirit of the fresh fruit in their drinks, St. George Spirits have expanded their horizons on what they can extract cracking flavours from, to the...  More info
$79.77
Stroh Inländer 40
(70cl, 40%)
Made in Austria, Stroh is a popular spiced rum and a brand which was created in Klagenfurt in 1832. Great when used in a variety of cocktails, such as a Jagertee or a Punch, Stroh 40 is flavoured with...  More info
$36.48
Stroh Inländer 80
(50cl, 80%)
Stroh 80 is an intense, fiery spiced rum from Austria, made with all kinds of spice extracts and essences. It is worth trying in warming hot chocolates, or in spicy cocktails such as the Jagertee.  More info
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$46.82
Wowser. 80%. Yes, really. Stroh. Aaaaah. Stroh.  More info
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An XO rum from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is distilled from molasses in a modern two column still, and it is diluted to 87.5% before it is aged in first fill Kentucky bourbon barrels for...  More info
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Sunset Light Rum SLR
(75cl, 40%)
A white rum distilled on the island of Saint Vincent. Sunset SLR was created in 1998, and it has a light, delicate flavour that works well in cocktails.  More info
$30.48
Sunset Very Strong Rum
(75cl, 84.50%)
An extremely high strength rum from Saint Vincent. This is distilled from molasses in a column still.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$77.39
Distilled in the sunny Seychelles, Takamaka Bay rum is brainchild of two brothers, Richard and Bernard d’Offay. The distillery was opened in 2002 to make rum according to their grandfather's recipe...  More info
$78.56
In the whisky world, the angels take their share of whisky from the casks maturing it. In the Caribbean, it's the mischievous Duppy spirits that travel from island to island, taking their share of rum...  More info
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$47.22
Now Available For Pre-Order!
Estimated despatch date 31st October 2014

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A high strength Mauritian rum, which is aged in oak for up to 7 years before being bottled at an eye-watering 75.5% ABV. Intense with dried fruits and plenty of spice. As with all high-strength...  More info
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One of them fancy white rums that's actually aged and filtered so it can be used in cocktails without affecting the colour! This one is made at the St. Lucia distillery and is aged an average of...  More info
$60.54
Produced in Trinidad and Tobago, this is a youthful blend of young dark rums aged in bourbon casks and bottled by the Plantation company. A light, elegant spirit.  More info
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What we've got here is a fairly extraordinary rum from Martinique distillery, Trois Rivières. The Trois Rivières 1953 was long aged in oak, and over the (many) years, it has taken on acres of flavour...  More info
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A delicious 5 year old rhum agricole (rum distilled from fresh sugar cane juice and aged in the style of French brandy) from the Martinique-based Trois Rivières.  More info
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