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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.

Rumbullion!

70cl, 42.60%
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth

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

Rumbullion!
33
$43.45

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength

70cl, 57%
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth took his 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…  More info

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength
13
$59.16

The Rum Advent Calendar (2015 Edition)

72cl, 41.80%
Drinks by the Dram

You may not have given it much thought before, but imagine what would happen if you swapped Santa's hat for a pirate's hat. It would kind of suit him, wouldn't it? Now swap that prosthetic hand for…  More info

The Rum Advent Calendar (2015 Edition)
$181.23

Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old

50cl, 46.20%
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth

Just when you thought Rumbullion! and Rumbullion! Navy-Strength couldn't be beat, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth emerges from his laboratory with 'Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old'. Once again, it's a…  More info

Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old
5
$72.46

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
14
$49.35

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A superb old rum from Peru, Ron Millonario made this XO from molasses and distil it in column stills before maturation in American white oak barrels. The result is a smooth, sweet, creamy sippin' rum.  More info

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial
6
$101.99

Deadhead 6 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Deadhead Rum

Deadhead is a 6 year old rum in a bottle shaped like a shrunken head, known as a Tsantsa, a trophy kept from a defeated enemy. Unique doesn't even cut it, as far as this bottle goes. The rum itself…  More info

Deadhead 6 Year Old Rum
$59.77

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
15
$41.09

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
21
$23.42

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
13
$54.33

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
30
$44.47

Doorly's XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

A six year old blend of rums from Barbados, Doorly's XO is finished in an Oloroso sherry cask, which adds a lovely character.  More info

Doorly's XO Rum
12
$32.18

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
48
$26.05

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Extra

70cl, 43%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate 12 is a blend of rums aged for between 12 and 18 years. Dave Broom describes this as "the finest aged rum from Jamaica"!  More info

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Extra
11
$37.21

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label

70cl, 54.50%
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.  More info

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label
31
$39.81

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 42.60%
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth

After the positively rousing response the Magnum bottles of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's Bathtub Gin received, the good Professor decided to put together some Magnum bottles for his ship-shape…  More info

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)
$92.99

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 JosÚ Navarro, describes this as "Cuban…  More info

Havana Club 15 Year Old
8
$180.92

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
$87.25

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
7
$26.53

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Bleeding Heart Rum Co

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
3
$38.48

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof

70cl, 75.50%
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
13
$39.14

Caroni 1974 (Bottled 2008) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 46%
Caroni

Very old rum from the Caroni distillery in Trinidad, independently bottled by Bristol Spirits. This fantastic release was distilled back in 1974 and bottled in the UK in 2008 at 46% ABV. Plenty of…  More info

Caroni 1974 (Bottled 2008) - Bristol Spirits
$210.48

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
14
$41.28

Diplomático Single Vintage 2001

70cl, 43%
Diplomático

A single vintage Venezuelan rum from the Diplomático range. This 2001 vintage expression was initially aged in bourbon and single malt whisky casks before being transferred over to Spanish Sherry…  More info

Diplomático Single Vintage 2001
1
$96.34

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve

70cl, 40%
Plantation

This is a 5 year old Barbados rum from the Plantation range, aged in bourbon barrels before being transported to Cognac Ferrand in France for a finish in Cognac casks! Very good indeed...  More info

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve
2
$31.59

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