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Rum

Popular Rum Types: Dark Rum | White Rum | Spiced 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, and results in a spirit typically around 40-50% ABV, or higher in the case of overproof rum. 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.

Rumbullion!

70cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

A sure-fire hit from Ableforth's, Rumbullion! is a cockle-warming spiced concoction, based on the kind of rich, full-bodied rums the seafaring fraternity would have enjoyed centuries ago.At the core…  More info

Rumbullion!
32
$38.28

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength

70cl, 57%
Ableforth's

Ableforth's took their famous Rumbullion! and bottled it at Navy Strength to create a much much 'bigger' drink. This is a warming concoction that would no doubt give a sailor vim and vigour on a…  More info

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength
11
$52.12

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins' Fancy

70cl, 40%
Plantation

A fantastic treat from the Plantation range originally created by the company's cellar master Alexandre Gabriel and drinks historian David Wondrich for Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2015.…  More info

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins' Fancy
4
$38.28

Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old

50cl, 46.2%
Ableforth's

Just when you thought Rumbullion! and Rumbullion! Navy-Strength couldn't be beat, Ableforth's bring us Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old. Once again, it's a spectacular, shipshape spiced rum inspired by…  More info

Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old
7
$63.83

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary

70cl, 40%
Plantation

A superb-looking decanter bottle of XO rum from Barbados, aged in bourbon barrels before being shipped to France for a secondary maturation in Cognac Casks from the Ferrand house... The result was…  More info

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary
24
$54.66

Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros

70cl, 45%
Havana Club

The new edition of Havana Club's very popular Cuban Barrel Proof, Seleccion de Maestros is a superb rum, bottled at higher strength.  More info

Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros
9
$56.68

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 1.5l

150cl, 40%
William Grant

The O.V.D. is a blend of Demerara rums and flavoured with spices to create this easy drinking rum in a whopping 1.5 litre bottle.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 1.5l
$50.85

Plantation O.F.T.D.

70cl, 69%
Plantation

A rather marvellous overproof dark rum from the Plantation range. Their O.F.T.D. (which stands for 'Old Fashioned Traditional Dark') is comprised of a blend of rums distilled in Barbados, Jamaica and…  More info

Plantation O.F.T.D.
$41.47

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa 1796 is a blend of Venezuelan rums, vatted using the solera system, blended from rums aged between 8 and 12 years of age. After blending it is aged for a further year in bourbon barrels.…  More info

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera
12
$51.46

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label

70cl, 54.5%
Pusser's

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label (previously known as Blue Label) is a higher proof traditional British Naval rum, produced using the blending recipe from the Admiralty. Well loved, it picked…  More info

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label
24
$36.24

El Dorado 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A great 12 year old Demerara rum from El Dorado. This has won golds at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test in London 7 times in the first 10 years! There are nine stills at the distillery, and this is based…  More info

El Dorado 12 Year Old
18
$39.75

Spytail Black Ginger Rum

70cl, 40%
Spytail

Spytail Black Ginger Rum is made in France using a blend of Caribbean rum aged in barrels with a selection of spices, most notably ginger (inspired by a 19th century recipe).  More info

Spytail Black Ginger Rum
$27.44

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A smart looking Venezuelan rum, Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is matured in whiskey barrels. This was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Sugar Cane Spirits Tasting Competition in Ybor City.  More info

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
28
$44.54

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

Ahoy thar, matey! Spied this treasure chest full o' Pirates Grog rum, have ye? Yarr, shiver me timbers, this be one for me hearties... Ahem. Excuse me. As I was saying, this is a very handsome…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest
4
$63.88

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof

70cl, 75.5%
Gosling's Rum

A super high strength dark rum from Bermuda. Despite the 75.5% of Gosling's Black Seal 151, this is a very smooth rum, and it's utterly delicious. Well worth trying.  More info

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof
9
$40.17

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

Made from rums of between 21 and 25 years of age, matured in 45 gallon oak casks, within six degrees of the equator in Guyana. El Dorado 21 was awarded a Gold at the International Rum Festival 2003…  More info

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve
10
$84.43

Pusser's 15 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Pusser's

A 15 year old Naval Rum. Traditionally, this rum would be afforded to seamen as part of their daily ration. A double dose was offered before battle, given to the sailors by the ship's purser…  More info

Pusser's 15 Year Old
15
$51.46

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

After the positively rousing response the Magnum bottles of Ableforth's Bathtub Gin received, they decided to put together some Magnum bottles for thier ship-shape spiced rum, Rumbullion!…  More info

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)
$81.92

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Kraken

An excellent spiced rum, with utterly brilliant packaging! This was launched in the UK in early 2010, and it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
50
$27.29

El Dorado 15 Year Old

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

This was rated the best rum in the world at the International Wine and Spirit Competition four years running. This is pot-distilled and matured in bourbon barrels.  More info

El Dorado 15 Year Old
14
$54.12

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend

70cl, 43%
Appleton Estate

Previously known as "12 Year Old Extra", Appleton's Rare Blend is a top rum aged in American oak barrels.  More info

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend
4
$38.55

Angostura 1919 Rum (old bottling)

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company, this is a blend of spirit aged for at least eight years in bourbon barrels.  More info

Angostura 1919 Rum (old bottling)
6
$32.99

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2015 - Version Integrale

70cl, 58.4%
Rhum Rhum

The 2015 bottling of the Rhum Rhum Liberation, a rhum agricole produced on the island of Marie Galante. This expression is aged in sweet wine casks - and the Version Integrale edition is bottled at…  More info

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2015 - Version Integrale
$121.51

O.V.D. Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
George Morton Ltd

A dark Demerara rum from Guyana. This was aged in oak casks and has a sweet, creamy flavour.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum
14
$20.79

Havana Club 15 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

This 15 year old is created by 'repeatedly' blending the rums and aguardientes and maturing them in old oak barrels. Havana Club's Primer Maestro Ronero, Don José Navarro, describes this as "Cuban…  More info

Havana Club 15 Year Old
6
$151.19

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