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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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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
$63.42
This is a delicious column-distilled rum from Trinidad, distilled in 1999 and aged in bourbon casks before a finish in cognac casks from Cognac Ferrand!  More info
$64.00
A 5 year old Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo. It is made at Varela-Hermanos, which is a third generation family distillery that grows its own sugar cane and ages its rum in white oak barrels.  More info
$46.35
Santa Teresa Claro
(70cl, 40%)
A Venezuelan white rum aged in American white oak for around 3 years. Santa Teresa Claro offers plenty of fruity notes, and is great in cocktails.  More info
$28.28
Mezan Rum
(70cl, 37.50%)
Mezan is a great value for money white rum from St Lucia. Intended as a mixer.  More info
$29.79
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
$80.61
The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long...  More info
$41.99
5 year old Cuban rum distilled in Heriberto Duquesne, Villa Clara. They characteristically produce a lighter style of rum (which the distillery attributed to the rum being matured in 180 litre oak...  More info
$31.07
Ron Mulata is made exclusively from Cuban sugar cane syrup and matured only for a short time before being bottled. It's not long enough to give it a great deal of colour, but it does help mellow out...  More info
$37.79
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
$82.29
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
$125.36
Single cask pot still rum, all the way from the Monymusk distillery in Jamaica. It matured for 10 years before being bottled by Duncan Taylor in 2014 with an outturn of 162 bottles.  More info
$107.47
A 1960s bottling of Appleton 151 Jamaican Rum, an overproof rum that would have been great in cocktails 40 years ago. Not only is it stronger that your average Appleton, this is a bigger 100cl...  More info
$302.30
Classic white rum from Dominican producers, Brugal, which is aged for at least one year to mellow out some of the overly intense qualities of rum straight from the still. This tasty rum is no stranger...  More info
$35.40
This is Matusalem's premium expression of Solera aged rum, the 23 Gran Reserva. The company was once based in Cuba, but have since moved to the Dominican Republic. They Solera age the majority of...  More info
$105.15
An ancient bottle of Spanish rum produced in the 1950s which appears to have wax at the bottom and some sticks stuck in it for potentially decorative effect. We don't recommend that you drink or even...  More info
$362.77
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
$161.23
An old bottle of Lamb's Navy Rum, produced in the 1960s and shipped out for the international market. Back in the day, it would have been perfect for a daily tot, although this bottle is now a...  More info
$241.84
Single cask pot-distilled Jamaican rum anybody? Thought so. Another excellent release from Duncan Taylor, 221 bottles of this 13 year old rum from Hampden distillery were filled in February 2014.  More info
$130.97
A single cask Diamond pot-distilled rum. Now, that doesn't mean it was distilled from diamonds, because that would be quite hard. No, it means it comes from the Diamond Distillery in Guyana. After...  More info
$107.70
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
$403.07
This is a bottle of Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani, a white rum which was produced in the 1970s in Malaga, Spain. I've been to Malaga. It's very nice. Didn't see any of this rum, though. Maybe if I went...  More info
$241.84
Yarr, it be a bottle o' Ron Don Antañón from the 1970s, it be!

100cl of old Spanish rum featuring what looks to be Horatio McCallister, the Sea Captain from The Simpsons, on the label.  More info
$241.84
Ancient Italian Rhum di Fantasia, produced in the 1970s by Olivieri. This is a large 100cl bottling.  More info
$201.54
This is a bottle of Rhum Fantasia, produced by the Italian company Moretto in the 1970s and bottled at 40% abv.  More info
$201.54
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