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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.

Signature Blend #2 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

70cl, 42%
That Boutique-y Rum Company

Here's the second Signature Blend from That Boutique-y Rum Company, and this stuff makes a mouthwatering Mai-Tai! Developed with Pete Holland (who you'll know from The Floating Rum Shack), this…  More info

Signature Blend #2 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$31.21
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Doorly's XO Rum

70cl, 43%
Doorly's

Here we having a slightly higher strength bottling of Doorly's awesome XO Rum, weighing in at 43% ABV. The lip-smacking blend of Barbados rums was finished in an Oloroso sherry cask before bottling,…  More info

Doorly's XO Rum
4
$36.29
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Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

This Havana Club has been aged for three years in bourbon casks and then filtered, hence its colour. A classic rum and a key component of good, refreshing Daiquiri (or just about any rum cocktail),…  More info

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old
15
$19.65

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
24
$22.68

Rumbullion! (20cl)

20cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

A diddy bottle of Rumbullion! spiced rum, complete with all the brown paper and wax drippings – in miniature form! It's like they got that zapper from Honey I Shrunk the Kids and blasted it at a…  More info

Rumbullion! (20cl)
$15.08

Havana Club Tributo 2019

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

It's the 2019 release of the wonderful Havana Club Tributo! This is the fourth release of the special rum, and which was launched at the 2019 Habanos Festival in Cuba. Created by three generations of…  More info

Havana Club Tributo 2019
1
$362.99

Appleton Estate 37 Year Old 1984 - Hearts Collection

70cl, 63%
Appleton Estate

An impressively aged rum from Appleton Estate. This 100% pot still rum from the Jamaican producers was distilled in 1984 and enjoyed a tropical maturation for 37 years in casks 3391 through to 3399.…  More info

Appleton Estate 37 Year Old 1984 - Hearts Collection
$1,007.42

Mount Gay Discovery Gift Set 3 x 20cl

60cl, 43%
Mount Gay

The perfect gift for a rum fan, and a fab opportunity to explore the range from the legendary Mount Gay distillery in Barbados. This set includes a 200ml bottle each of Mount Gay Eclipse, Mount Gay…  More info

Mount Gay Discovery Gift Set 3 x 20cl
$45.38

Bounty Dark Rum

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

This blend of a 3-year-old column still rum and a 6-year-old pot still rum was aged in ex-Bourbon casks to create a sumptuous dark rum that works in a selection of classic cocktails.  More info

Bounty Dark Rum
$24.19

Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum

50cl, 38%
Rockstar Spirits

Cherry, salted caramel, and rum. Yeah, this all sounds pretty good, doesn't it? The folks at Rockstar Spirits have created another delicious treat for its Two Swallows range featuring rum from…  More info

Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum
19
$23.63

Rosemullion Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Rosemullion

From the Rosemullion Distillery down in Cornwall comes a Spiced Rum! It's pot distilled before it's then aged and spiced. The final aromatic spirit is then bottled at 40% ABV in this very handsome…  More info

Rosemullion Spiced Rum
6
$32.77

St Nicholas Abbey 15 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey in Barbados won Best Distillery at Rumfest 2012, whilst this rare single cask 15 year old offering won a Gold at the Rum Masters.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 15 Year Old
$248.39

Belgrove Hazelnut Rum

70cl, 40%
Belgrove

Well, this is a pretty unique combination right here... Thanks to Belgrove, hazelnut rum is now a thing! The brand is named after William Belgrove, a rum pioneer, and the spirit is a single-origin…  More info

Belgrove Hazelnut Rum
12
$30.19

Chamarel Premium White Rum

70cl, 42%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single estate Mauritian white rum, made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses. Although unaged, it is regularly stirred in stainless steel vats for at least six months prior to bottling, a…  More info

Chamarel Premium White Rum
3
$29.49

Dictador 20 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Aged in a Solera system for between 14 and 24 years, this delicious Colombian rum was made by the Dictador company. It is brought down to bottling strength with demineralised water slowly - drop by…  More info

Dictador 20 Year Old
10
$61.51

Honu Pineapple & Mango Pink Rum

70cl, 37.5%
House of Elrick

A delightfully pink rum here, infused with pineapple and mango, and bottled by House of Elrick for the Honu Rum range! Packed with tropical flavour, this is ideal for all manner of exotic cocktails…  More info

Honu Pineapple & Mango Pink Rum
1
$24.15

Devon Rum Co. Golden Rum

70cl, 40%
Devon Rum Co.

From the Devon Rum Co. comes a lip-smacking dark rum, made with spirits from Guyana and Jamaica, as well as spring water from the eponymous county in the south west. Well-rounded and flavoursome,…  More info

Devon Rum Co. Golden Rum
$38.33

Sairen Spices

70cl, 40%
Sairen

The Sairen range of spiced rums offers up a selection of flavour profiles, and does so with rum that's clear, meaning these ought to be very handy for cocktails - you can pick out the flavour profile…  More info

Sairen Spices
$35.25

NAUD Hidden Loot Dark Reserve

70cl, 41%
NAUD

The team at NAUD has dialed things up a notch for this expression of its Hidden Loot spiced rum. Combining ten fruits and spices with column distilled Panamanian rum, the carefully curated selection…  More info

NAUD Hidden Loot Dark Reserve
$39.28

El Dorado 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A more recent part of the El Dorado range, this is aged in bourbon barrels and offers a heavier body than the 5 year old, but still not as heavy as the 12 and 15, making this a great mixing rum,…  More info

El Dorado 8 Year Old
2
$30.19

Navy Island Navy Strength Rum

70cl, 57%
Navy Island

From the Navy Island Rum Company comes a blend of hand-selected Jamaican rums that were distilled entirely in traditional pot-stills before it was aged in ex-bourbon oak casks then bottled at Navy…  More info

Navy Island Navy Strength Rum
3
$42.27
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Chairman’s Reserve Legacy Rum

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

A special bottling from Chairman's Reserve, celebrating the legacy of founder Laurie Bernard! His vision and passion for good rum pushed the St Lucia Distillers to expand their kit and broaden their…  More info

Chairman’s Reserve Legacy Rum
3
$36.55
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Admiral's Cask Dark Rum Barrel

70cl, 40%
OSA Fine Spirits

Look at this! OSA Fine Spirits has taken some of its fabulous five year old Panamanian rum, and filled up these snazzy barrel-shaped containers with it! Eye catching indeed, this is a great novelty…  More info

Admiral's Cask Dark Rum Barrel
1
$32.29

KISS Black Diamond Rum

50cl, 40%
KISS

KISS, the well-known rock band, has gone and got its own rum range, including Black Diamond Rum, which comes to us from the Caribbean. The label features some classic KISS imagery, including icons…  More info

KISS Black Diamond Rum
$38.27

Travellers Distillery - Rum Explorer

70cl, 41%
Travellers Distillery

Independently bottled rum from the Travellers Distillery in Belize, released as part of the Rum Explorer range by the folks from Château du Breuil. This expression has been given a finishing period…  More info

Travellers Distillery - Rum Explorer
$42.31

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