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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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Vintage Cocktails
Rumbullion!
(70cl, 42.60%)
A sure-fire hit from Professor Cornelius Ampleforth, Rumbullion! is a cockle-warming spiced concoction, based on the kind of rich, full-bodied rums the seafaring fraternity would have enjoyed...  More info
User Rating:  (29 Reviews)
$50.77
This is a 3 year old rum from the Real McCoy range, which has been aged in American oak bourbon barrels before enjoying a filtration process to remove the colour imparted by the maturation, but not...  More info
$36.26
The 12 year old Real McCoy rum, matured in heavily charred bourbon barrels. Rich and oak-y, with bundles of Christmas cake, Demerara sugar and pipe tobacco notes. The 'Real McCoy' name is based on the...  More info
$65.43
From the Dzama range comes this 1998 vintage Madagascan Rhum Agricole, aged in French Limousin casks and presented at 45% ABV.  More info
$87.77
Dzama XV 15 Year Old
(70cl, 45%)
Very well aged Madagascan rum from the Dzama range made by Vidzar, the Dzama XV spends 15 years patiently maturing in oak casks before it's bottled. Great notes of vanilla, dark fruits and rich oak...  More info
$397.74
12 year old pot still rum from the Hampden distillery in Jamaica. This interesting rum was distilled in 2002, bottled in 2014 by one of Scotland's oldest bottlers, W.M. Cadenhead, and has been...  More info
$68.76
Guyanese rum from from the Uitvlugt distillery, matured for 16 years before being bottled by WM Cadenhead. It was bottled at cask strength - a robust 60.2% ABV - so expect an intense flavour profile.  More info
$97.88
Would you look at this - independently bottled rum from WM Cadenhead, one of Scotland's oldest indie bottlers! This is a 16 year old rum from the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe, which was bottled...  More info
$99.48
Brazilian rum, produced by the Epris distillery and left to age for 15 years. Following that rather lengthy maturation, it was bottled by one of Scotland's oldest independent bottlers, WM Cadenhead...  More info
$73.32
The third edition of fantastic St Lucian rum, released yearly to celebrate many years of rum distillation on the island. This release is named 1931 after the year the Dennery Distillery was founded...  More info
$81.47
Strictly 1 Per Customer!

St. George Spirits are bringing back the funk with their California Reserve Agricole Rum, made with fermented sugarcane juice from pressed canes grown in the Imperial...  More info
$94.14
Another top release from the Plantation Rum collection - this is a 2004 vintage rum which was distilled in Grenada. A relaxed, elegant and flavourful expression, bustling with stewed fruit sweetness...  More info
$53.22
2003 vintage Nicaraguan rum, matured for 9 years before enjoying a brandy cask finish. Complex and intriguing with sweet floral touches and notes of cashew nut and tropical fruits. Part of the top...  More info
$50.26
A Pusser's Navy Rum decanter celebrating the sport of yachting! This gorgeous decanter, containing 1 litre of Pusser's excellent rum, is decorated with a number of different yachts, which will be...  More info
$119.56
Black Head Rum 100cl
(100cl, 37.50%)
A simple white rum - enjoy with your favourite mixer or in 'Special Cocktails', as the bottle suggests.  More info
$28.11
Optimum Ron Blanco Rum 1l
(100cl, 37.50%)
A white rum from the Optimum range, made in the Netherlands using rum imported from the Caribbean.  More info
$29.09
A rich, sweet dark rum, which was imported from the Caribbean to the Netherlands. Should do well with your favourite mixer.  More info
$29.09
An 18 year old rum from Panama, bottled by the Italian company Rum Nation. A complex rum, rich with tannic notes from the cask, dried fruits and an elegant nuttiness. According to folks at Rum Nation...  More info
$82.22
Rhum J.M Vintage 2002
(70cl, 44.80%)
A 2002 vintage agricole rhum from Martinican distillers, Rhum J.M - a rich, well-aged rhum, packed with notes of brown sugar and walnut cake. Yum...  More info
$135.56
Bacardi Gold 40%
(70cl, 40%)
Bacardi is a world-class back-bar staple rum which was originally created in Cuba in the 1800s, though now produced in Puerto Rico. Bacardi Gold is one of the most popular gold rums in the world (and...  More info
$33.21
A Banks Connoisseurs Choice bottling of Guyanese rum, which was distilled all the way back in 1997. It was bottled by Banks at cask strength - a generous 59.6% ABV. 205 bottles were produced.  More info
$148.56
Guyanese rum, bottled for the Banks Connoisseur's Cut range. It was initially matured for 2 years in American oak casks before being transferred over to Cognac casks for the remainder of its...  More info
$145.64
From the Banks Connoisseurs Cut range, comes a blended rum made with spirits from Guyana, Jamaica and Nicaragua. The rums were distilled in 2001 and 2002, blended in 2007 and returned to oak casks to...  More info
$132.54
An excellent 18 year old rum, which was created by Francisco 'Don Pancho' Fernandez Perez. Top stuff from an man with many years of experience in crafted high quality rum under his belt.  More info
$112.08
Brugal Dry Spiced
(70cl, 38%)
From Brugal in the Dominican Republic comes their dry spiced rum, perfect for cocktails where you want the sweeter notes of rums to step to the side (just a little bit) to allow the simmering spices...  More info
$37.30
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