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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.

Special Offer

Discarded Banana Peel Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Discarded Spirits

The team from Discarded Spirits specialises is using ingredients that would otherwise go to waste to create lip-smacking spirits, like its Banana Peel Rum! It features a base of Caribbean rum which…  More info

Discarded Banana Peel Rum
3
$34.16
$31.88

Rum Advent Calendar (2021 Edition)

72cl, 41.1%
Drinks by the Dram

Introduce some liquid sunshine to the Christmas countdown with Drinks by the Dram's spectacular Rum Advent Calendar! Eschewing the usual tiny squares of chocolate that many Advent calendars are…  More info

Rum Advent Calendar (2021 Edition)
$170.75
Special Offer

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!
84
$39.74
$34.05
Try a sample

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum

70cl, 41.3%
Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel has added another expression to its selection - this time is a lip-smacking spiced rum! Presented in a unique and somewhat startling black ceramic bottle, the rum is flavoured with a…  More info

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum
123
$52.90
Special Offer

Jaffa Cake Rum

70cl, 42%
Zesty Spirits

The folks behind the excellent Jaffa Cake Gin have gone ahead and found a new partner for the classic orangey, chocolatey treat - rum! Akin to its gin-based sibling, Jaffa Cake Rum is made with…  More info

Jaffa Cake Rum
29
$34.11
$28.41

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
56
$42.70

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 is a…  More info

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary
71
$56.37
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Project #173 Black Cherry Rum

50cl, 42%
Project #173

The Project #173 range brings together the tastiness of rum and the tastiness of... Well, all sorts of tastiness! Specifically for this expression, the quality core of rum has teamed up with black…  More info

Project #173 Black Cherry Rum
6
$22.72

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A snazzy looking rum all the way from Venezuela, Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is a molasses based rum that is distilled in copper pot stills and matured in whiskey barrels. Top stuff for sipping…  More info

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
79
$42.07

Spiced Rum Tasting Set

15cl, 39.3%
Drinks by the Dram

If you love your rum, but you're looking for something a little different, spiced rums are definitely the way to go. Producers around the globe combine delicious rums with all sorts of tremendous…  More info

Spiced Rum Tasting Set
$28.41

English Harbour 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

English Harbour is a rum from Antigua. This 5 year old was a Double Gold winner at the 2005 San Francisco Competition.  More info

English Harbour 5 Year Old
6
$33.93

Project #173 Butterscotch Rum

50cl, 42%
Project #173

Butterscotch is one of those flavours that you find all over the shop in terms of aged spirits, but it's not very often that you see a spirit that really leans into it. This expression from the…  More info

Project #173 Butterscotch Rum
8
$22.72

The Severed Hand Jamaican Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
The Severed Hand

Spiced rum from The Severed Hand range, produced by the same folks who make Black Powder Gin! With a base of Jamaican rum, this expression has been infused with the likes of chilli, cinnamon, and…  More info

The Severed Hand Jamaican Spiced Rum
1
$34.11

Depth Charge Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Depth Charge

Depth Charge Spiced Rum packs a big, powerful flavour profile, having been made with a fantastic base of Caribbean rum, a selection of tasty spices and generous helpings of lime and mandarin at its…  More info

Depth Charge Spiced Rum
6
$27.04

Drinks by the Dram 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection

36cl, 41.7%
Drinks by the Dram

Drinks by the Dram's 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection is just the ticket for anyone looking to pick up a brilliant pressie for a picky rum fan. Behind each of the 12 windows of this zazzy box sits a…  More info

Drinks by the Dram 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection
1
$51.24

Premium Rum Tasting Set

15cl, 47%
Drinks by the Dram

It's not just whisky, we do love other spirits too, and rum will always hold a special place in our hearts. Rum is like liquid sunshine, and we put together this set of five 3cl samples of utterly…  More info

Premium Rum Tasting Set
10
$30.69

Satchmo Mojito Spirited Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Satchmo

Satchmo rum is inspired by iconic American trumpeter Louis Armstrong's nickname, Satchmo! It's flavoured with the same ingredients you'd find in a Mojito, so expect lots of lime and mint freshness in…  More info

Satchmo Mojito Spirited Rum
18
$45.49

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
23
$43.26

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
38
$46.06

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Spiced

70cl, 54.5%
Pusser's

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Spiced is a particularly full-bodied spiced rum, made with rum matured in charred oak bourbon barrels and combined with a selection of tasty ingredients, including banana,…  More info

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Spiced
5
$48.91
Special Offer

Central Galactic Spiced Rum

70cl, 43.5%
Central Galactic

What if we told you that you could taste the centre of the galaxy? Don't believe us? Well, around a decade ago scientists (yes, actual scientists) peeked through a massive telescope at a vast dust…  More info

Central Galactic Spiced Rum
7
$39.80
$34.11

El Dorado 15 Year Old

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

A delicious blend of Caribbean rum, El Dorado 15 Year Old marries spirits from the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills, the Port Mourant double wooden pot still and the Versailles single wooden pot…  More info

El Dorado 15 Year Old
27
$60.30

Diplomático Single Vintage 2005

70cl, 43%
Diplomático

Regard: the 2005 vintage of Diplomático Venezuelan rum! Exceptionally rich and indulgent stuff, which has enjoyed a year finishing period in oloroso sherry casks. Very much an after-dinner dram, this…  More info

Diplomático Single Vintage 2005
2
$102.42

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Special Pack

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

This zazzy gift pack from Diplomático features a full bottle of the brilliant Reserva Exclusiva Venezuelan rum, alongside a branded glass and an ice ball mold. Make an ice ball, place it in the…  More info

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Special Pack
2
$52.32

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Don Papa

A richly flavoursome rum from the Philippines, inspired by the story of Papa Isio, who played a big part in the late-19th century Philippine revolution. The rum itself is made using sugar cane grown…  More info

Don Papa Small Batch Rum
60
$33.52

Rumbullion! Chilli & Chocolate

50cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

Rumbullion! is an extraordinary cockle-warming spiced rum, but those clever Ableforth's folks have changed the game with this limited edition Chilli & Chocolate expression! Criollo cocoa nibs,…  More info

Rumbullion! Chilli & Chocolate
9
$28.41

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