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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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Bacardi's classic white rum, just the ticket for those Daiquiris you've been wanting to make. This bottle was produced in the 1970s.  More info
$162.67
This white rum from Bacardi was bottled in the 1990s. Bacardi famously left Cuba following the rise of Fidel Castro and continued to produce rum from abroad.  More info
$122.00
1.25 litres of Bacardi Carta Blanca which was distilled in the 1970s, a spirit collector's dream!  More info
$284.67
Bacardi Carta de Oro from the 1970s, in a 100cl bottle no less! A rather large and rare antique from over 30 years ago. If you're looking for a way to add something a little different and flavoursome...  More info
$244.00
From the 1970s comes a bottle of Bacardi Carta de Oro Anejo, their golden rum that is mighty fine in a cocktail that desires a mellow but flavourful rum.  More info
$162.67
Bacardi Gold
(70cl, 37.50%)
Bacardi Gold was created in 1862 in Cuba. Today it is produced in Puerto Rico and it is the world's most popular gold rum. Sometimes known as "Oro".  More info
$34.28
Bacardi Reserva
(70cl, 40%)
This is a fairly rare golden rum from, veteran rum producer Bacardi. This rum has been aged in oak casks and has been charcoal filtered.  More info
$59.14
Bacardi Superior
(70cl, 37.50%)
Let us introduce the world's most popular spirit… No backbar is complete without the classic white rum Bacardi Carta Blanca, originally produced in Cuba - at the first distillery there was a colony of...  More info
$28.72
An absolutely ancient bottle of Bacardi Superior rum. We believe this antique piece to date back to around 1929-1930, when Bacardi opened up a distillery in San Feliu. Sadly, there has been...  More info
$1626.69
Bacardi Superior 1.5l
(150cl, 37.50%)
A magnum of the classic Carta Blanca white rum from Bacardi. First created by Don Facundo Bacardi, a Spaniard who travelled to Cuba as a teenager.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$81.89
Let me introduce my good friend Ron (rum in Spanish). This one litre bottling of Bacardi Superior rum comes from the 1990s.  More info
$122.00
Bacardi Superior 35cl
(35cl, 37.50%)
A half bottle of Bacardi Carta Blanca. A great mixer, very versatile and well suited to a refreshing Daiquiri!  More info
$18.57
1970s rum. Let's all have a Daiquiri!  More info
$162.67
Banks 5 Island Rum
(70cl, 43%)
Banks 5 Island is a blend of five rums from distilleries in Trinidad, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They add a little Batavia Arrack from Java and the result is a beautiful cocktail rum. Highly...  More info
$64.58
Banks 7 Island Rum
(70cl, 43%)
This is a follow-up to the successful Banks 5 Island Rum which is a blend of rums from five Caribbean islands, the Banks 7 Islands is unsurprisingly a blend of rums from seven Caribbean islands. Banks...  More info
$66.98
Barbancourt Rhum comes from Haiti and is often made with sugar cane juice rather than molasses. This bottle of their 3 Star Rhum, which is aged for four years, was produced in the 1970s - very...  More info
$406.67
5 Star is double distilled in Barbancourt's copper pot stills before a maturation of 8 years in Limousin oak barrels.  More info
$55.92
An 1970s bottle of Bardinet Rhum Negrita, a blend of West and East Indies rums bottled by the French distillers. Rare, collectible and in good condition.  More info
$203.34
An antique bottle of Bardinet Rhum Negrita, a rum made with sugar cane rather than molasses, produced in the 1950s. Rare and very collectible.

Please note that the label does not state the ABV of...  More info
$406.67
This white rum was bottled in the 1970's by Bardinet and is now a collectable item.  More info
$162.67
A Duncan Taylor bottling of single cask rum from the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe. It was distilled in March 1998 and bottled in February 2014 with an outturn of 213 bottles of 15 year old rum...  More info
$134.57
Forty years after Black Tot Day in 1970, the day when the British Royal Navy's 300 year old practice of daily rum rations stopped, the Black Tot Last Consignment gives us insight into the history of...  More info
$1014.90
Blackwell Black Gold Rum was created by Chris Blackwell, who also happens to be the owner of Island Records. The dark rum itself is distilled and blended by J. Wray & Nephew in Jamaica. It was made in...  More info
$33.40
Blue Mauritius Silver
(70cl, 40%)
The clear seas surrounding the island of Mauritius might have inspired this crystal clear Blue Mauritius Silver, or perhaps the heat inspired its seductive warmth. Either way, it's a wonderful white...  More info
$84.84
Botran Reserva
(70cl, 40%)
Botran Reserva is a delicious Guatemalan rum aged for between 5 and 14 years. Made from the best virgin sugar honey, this rum is aged in a Solera system in a mix of bourbon, port and sherry casks.  More info
$60.31
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