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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.

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

Deep, intense rum from Venezuelan producer Pampero. Superb sipping rum.  More info

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial
4
$22.42

Monymusk Special Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Monymusk

The entry level expression of rum from the Jamaican Monymusk Estate, made for enjoying in cocktails. Quite light and sweet, this one.  More info

Monymusk Special Gold Rum
$24.41

Atlantico Private Cask

70cl, 40%
Atlantico

Atlantico Private Cask is a rich, thick blend of small batch rums, aged up to 25 years old. Oak, dark berry and toffee notes a-plenty. Also, the Atlantico brand is endorsed by the singer Enrique…  More info

Atlantico Private Cask
5
$40.92

Worthy Park 8 Year Old - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Worthy Park

Delicious 8 year old Jamaican rum bottled by Bristol Spirits!  More info

Worthy Park 8 Year Old - Bristol Spirits
$49.72

Matugga Spiced Rum

70cl, 42%
Matugga

This is a Spiced Rum from the Matugga Rum range, which was introduced in mid-2015. The rum is made with molasses from sugar canes grown in the rich, red soil of East Africa, and distilled in the UK.…  More info

Matugga Spiced Rum
3
$43.16

Diplomático Blanco Reserva

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

This is a white rum from Diplomático which is a blend of rums up to six years old that have been distilled in copper pot stills then filtered through charcoal. This is a truly premium product.  More info

Diplomático Blanco Reserva
$32.23

Banks 5 Island Rum

70cl, 43%
Banks

Banks 5 Island is a blend of five rums from distilleries in Trinidad, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They add a little Batavia Arrack from Java and the result is a beautiful cocktail rum. Highly…  More info

Banks 5 Island Rum
$44.12

Bacardi Reserva Limitada

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A rather rare sight on these shores, Bacardi Reserva Limitada rum was originally only available from the distillery's gift shop! It's made with a blend of well-aged Puerto Rican rums, resulting in a…  More info

Bacardi Reserva Limitada
$215.01

O'Hara's Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
O'Hara

O'Hara's Spiced Rum features a blend of 3 and 5 year old rums from Guyana as well as 5 year old rum from Trinidad and Tobago at its core. This is combined with vanilla, lime, cinnamon and clove plus…  More info

O'Hara's Spiced Rum
$30.12

Glorious Revolution Rum

50cl, 40%
Spirit Masters LTD

Made with cane molasses from Africa and the Americas, Alan and Amanda Collins distil their rum in their artisanal alembic (with lentil) near Newmarket after a fourteen day fermentation. Launched at…  More info

Glorious Revolution Rum
$31.57

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A Magnum bottling of very well-aged rum from Peruvian producer, Ron Millonario. If you've not tried Peruvian rum before, well, this would be a very good place to start. Masses of sweet, well-rounded…  More info

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)
1
$220.98

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

An award winning rum; this took a silver at the 2006 and 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competitions. This also attained a Gold at the International Review of Spirits. A great mixing rum, very…  More info

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum
3
$22.35

Don Q Cristal

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The entry level expression from the Don Q rum range - the Don Q Cristal is made using multiple distillation method to achieve its desired flavour profile, and allowed to rest in American oak barrels…  More info

Don Q Cristal
$25.81

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

Single cask rum from Cuba, distilled in 2003 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2012. Yum!  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$46.14

Balcones Texas Rum

75cl, 63.90%
Balcones

The Balcones distillers in Waco, Texas, have only gone and made their own rum! It's a molasses-based rum which has been double distilled and aged in a variety of casks with differing toast levels and…  More info

Balcones Texas Rum
2
$107.99

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A 1.5 litre bottling of the one of the world's best-selling spirits! Bacardi was first created in Cuba but moved to Puerto Rico rather than face nationalisation. Thanks to its stint in Cuba, the…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l
$52.23

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 Guatemalan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Darsa Distillery

A single cask rum from the home of Ron Zacapa and Ron Botran, distilled from a fermented 'honey' made from condensed sugar cane. The outturn from this single cask was 333 bottles.  More info

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 Guatemalan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$46.29

Mezan Jamaica XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Mezan

This is a blend of casks from two distilleries in Jamaica: Monymusk and Hampden. The latter distillery has Scottish roots, and is one of the oldest sugar plantations in the country. It has always…  More info

Mezan Jamaica XO Rum
7
$31.69

New Dawn 18 Rum Solera

70cl, 42%
New Dawn Traders

A Solera-aged Dominican Republic rum presented by the New Dawn Traders range, crafted for them by Oliver and Oliver.  More info

New Dawn 18 Rum Solera
$68.69

Hee Joy Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Hee Joy

Hee Joy Spiced Rum is made with a combination of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Guyana, blended together in Cognac, France, and allowed to finish in oak casks. Enjoy over ice or in tropical…  More info

Hee Joy Spiced Rum
$28.58

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate Reserve no longer carries an 8 year old age statement, but is still an excellent dark rum that offers great value.  More info

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
2
$26.41

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old

70cl, 37.50%
Caldas

An 8 year old rum from the Colombian brand, Ron Viejo De Caldas. It spends 8 years maturing in used bourbon barrels before it's bottled. While it has been bottled at 37.5% ABV, it still shows off a…  More info

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old
$32.25

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum

70cl, 50%
Trois Rivieres

A tangy, punchy white rhum agricole made in Martinique by the legendary Trois Rivières. Loads of flavour here, this works really well in white rum cocktails such as a Daiquiri of a Mojito.  More info

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum
$32.69

Clément Rhum Ambré

70cl, 40%
Clément

A simple, fragrant, grassy rhum agricole from Marinique distillers, Clément. After spending 12 months in oak casks, the Rhum Ambré ready to be enjoyed in cocktails or over ice.  More info

Clément Rhum Ambré
$25.36

Barbancourt 3 Star (4 Year Old)

70cl, 40%
Barbancourt

A popular bottling from the superb Barbancourt range of rhums and rhums agricole. 3 star is actually a 4 year old expression rum exhibits classic Haitian character.  More info

Barbancourt 3 Star (4 Year Old)
4
$28.68

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