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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, 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.

Peaky Blinder Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Peaky Blinder

Named after the Peaky Blinders street gang from the later 19th and early 20th Century, this is a black spiced rum that has been blended with various spices to help accentuate the rum's flavour…  More info

Peaky Blinder Black Spiced Rum
9
$24.32
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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!
43
$38.11
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Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum

70cl, 75.5%
Old J

A high-strength edition of Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum, which features plenty of vanilla and a touch of lime peel flavours at its core. The Tiki Fire bottling is presented at an intense 75.5%…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum
5
$41.29
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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
9
$37.04
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Mocambo 10 Year Old Mexican Rum Buccaneer Pistol

20cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A glass buccaneer's pistol full of Mocambo Mexican rum! Produced in Cordoba, this is the perfect gift for the pirate in your life.  More info

Mocambo 10 Year Old Mexican Rum Buccaneer Pistol
$26.05
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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
29
$37.04
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Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35%
Old J

Based around the vibrant flavours of Persian lime and vanilla paired with classic rum notes, Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink (technically it's not a rum, as its ABV is under 37.5%) goes great over ice…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
5
$21.14
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Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Coconut

70cl, 40%
Bombo

A spiced rum from the Bombo range, flavoured with coconut and caramel to complement the fruity rum. Should be good over ice or with your favourite mixer, or alongside a sweet dessert.  More info

Bombo 40 Rum -  Caramel & Coconut
7
$27.70
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Jamaica Cove Black Pineapple Rum

70cl, 40%
Jamaica Cove

A mid-2017 addition to the Jamaica Cove rum range, boasting a bounty of pineapple deliciousness! This sweet tipple is made with a blend of Jamaican rums distilled in both pot stills and column still,…  More info

Jamaica Cove Black Pineapple Rum
$28.20
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Pusser's 15 Year Old

75cl, 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
16
$52.82
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Foursquare 12 Year Old 2005 - Exceptional Cask Selection

70cl, 59%
Foursquare

A blend pot-still and column-still rums matured in ex-bourbon casks for 12 years to create this single-vintage Foursquare, which was bottled at a cask-strength of 59% ABV.  More info

Foursquare 12 Year Old 2005 - Exceptional Cask Selection
$56.65

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
14
$40.63
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Watson's Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.  More info

Watson's Demerara Rum
3
$19.08

Foursquare Dominus - Exceptional Cask Selection

70cl, 56%
Foursquare

Part of the Exceptional Series, Dominus another superb Bajan rum from the supreme Foursquare Distillery. Matured in ex-bourbon for three years and ex-Cognac casks for a further seven, this blend of…  More info

Foursquare Dominus - Exceptional Cask Selection
$58.42

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
27
$54.93
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Watson's Trawler Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

Navy style dark rum made using spirit from Barbados and Guyana, aged in their countries of origin.  More info

Watson's Trawler Rum
1
$18.02
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Pusser's Blue Label

70cl, 40%
Pusser's

The Pusser's Rum collection has had a bit of a revamp. While their Blue Label is still made with the exact same blend of rums - a recipe from the Admiralty - it is now bottled at 40% abv rather that…  More info

Pusser's Blue Label
5
$24.52
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Dark Matter Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Dark Matter

The first release from Scotland's Dark Matter Distillers is Dark Matter Spiced Rum - very exciting stuff! Created in Banchory by two brothers, Jim and John Ewen, Dark Matter Spiced Rum is a…  More info

Dark Matter Spiced Rum
45
$33.86
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Dead Man's Fingers Coconut

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

A lip-smacking spiced rum from the South West, created by the folks from The Rum & Crab Shack. This particular variation is based around the tropical flavours of coconuts, and will work wonderfully…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Coconut
$22.21

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
2
$31.98
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Rebellion Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

A beautiful Trinidadian rum from a distillery founded in 1824. The producers recommend Rebellion Spiced be served long with cola and ice (and a squeeze of fresh lime juice).  More info

Rebellion Spiced Rum
7
$20.49
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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
12
$63.55
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Dead Man's Fingers Coffee

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

A variation on Dead Man's Fingers Spiced Rum (created by the folks from The Rum & Crab Shack in St. Ives) based around the deliciousness of coffee. Well-suited to enjoying as a digestif after a heart…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Coffee
1
$22.21

Dead Man's Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

A spiced rum created by the chaps behind The Rum & Crab Shack in St. Ives (which serves tasty seafood and top rum - sounds excellent to us). This is made using a blend of Caribbean rums alongside a…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum
4
$25.59
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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
38
$44.34
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