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Rum

Popular Rum Types: Dark Rum | White Rum | Spiced 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.

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)

75cl, 69%
Westerhall

Overproof rum from Grenada-based producers, Westerhall Estate. Their Iron Jack is allowed to age in charred oak casks before being bottled at a generous 69% ABV - you'll want to dilute this well with…  More info

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)
$39.71

Doorlys 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

This white rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados is perfect for a variety of rum-based cocktails.  More info

Doorlys 3 Year Old
$24.54

Six Saints Caribbean Rum

70cl, 41.7%
Six Saints Rum

Six Saints Caribbean Rum comes to us from Grenada after being aged in bourbon barrels and bottled at 41.7% ABV. Though Grenada is known as the 'Island of Spice', this isn't actually a spiced rum!…  More info

Six Saints Caribbean Rum
1
$46.84

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo's Finish Collection, which has been given a finishing period in Oloroso Sherry casks! This'll be very interesting to taste alongside the other expressions in the range,…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
$71.36

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old
1
$26.28

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum

70cl, 38.5%
Cargo Cult

Named for Melanesian beliefs held on remote islands that John Frum, probably a corruption of "John from..." (American serviceman having visited during the second World War bringing with them goods…  More info

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum
$33.58

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
1
$37.82

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 7 year old rum from Panama made by Varela-Hermanos. Ron Abuelo is made using distillery grown sugar cane and is aged in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old
2
$27.76

Plantation Jamaica 2002

70cl, 42%
Plantation

A 2002 vintage rum from an undisclosed distillery in Jamaica, bottled by French-owned company Plantation Rum.  More info

Plantation Jamaica 2002
$40.12

Hampden Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Hampden

Golden Jamaican rum from Hampden Estate released in 2012 for the UK and European market, no doubt with tasty cocktails and mixed drinks in mind.  More info

Hampden Gold Rum
$23.17

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Made in Kingston, Jamaica, Appleton Estate Classic White rum is exactly that; a classic white rum. Perfect for mixing, it wouldn't go amiss in a Yellow Submarine or a traditional mojito.  More info

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%
$19.74

Green Island Superior Light Rum

70cl, 40%
Green Island

A young, light rum from Green Island, a great producer of rum in Mauritius. This is distilled from molasses in a four column still, and the rum in the bottle is aged for between 3 and 5 years in oak.…  More info

Green Island Superior Light Rum
$27.44

Sunset Light Rum SLR

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

A white rum distilled on the island of Saint Vincent. Sunset SLR was created in 1998, and it has a light, delicate flavour that works well in cocktails.  More info

Sunset Light Rum SLR
$24.00

Westerhall Estate 2003 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Westerhall

Distilled on the island of Grenada in 2003, this rum was then bottled in the the UK by Bristol Spirits in 2015.  More info

Westerhall Estate 2003 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits
$69.89

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 5 year old Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo. It is made at Varela-Hermanos, which is a third generation family distillery that grows its own sugar cane and ages its rum in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial
$25.37

Matusalem Solera 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A seven year old 'Solera' rum from Dominican producer Matusalem. Great in cocktails, but more than good enough to be sipped.  More info

Matusalem Solera 7 Year Old
1
$26.68

New Grove Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Grays

Superbly spiced rum from the island of Mauritius, which sits in the Indian Ocean. New Grove have struck a fine balance between classic sweet rum notes of citrus and honey and the hot notes driven by…  More info

New Grove Spiced Rum
$26.84

Rumshak Spiced

70cl, 35%
Rumshak

This is a blend of a variety of Caribbean rums flavoured with mulling spices. While it's not technically a rum, as it is under 37.5% abv, it's still technically delicious.  More info

Rumshak Spiced
$21.66

Sparrow's Premium Aged Rum

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distilleries

Produced in Georgetown, St Vincent, Sparrow's is a tasty dark rum made from West Indian sugar cane and aged in oak barrels. Great value for money...  More info

Sparrow's Premium Aged Rum
3
$26.68

Isla De Canas Añejo Reserva

70cl, 40%
Isla de Canas

7 year old rum distilled in Panama as prt of the Isla de Canas range. Good value for money, suitable for enjoying over ice or used in cocktails.  More info

Isla De Canas Añejo Reserva
$27.03

Brugal Dry Spiced

70cl, 38%
Brugal

From Brugal in the Dominican Republic comes their dry spiced rum, perfect for cocktails where you want the sweeter notes of rums to step to the side (just a little bit) to allow the simmering spices…  More info

Brugal Dry Spiced
$26.80

Trois Rivières Cuvee De L’Ocean

70cl, 42%
Trois Rivieres

This rhum agricole from Trois Rivières is a rather interesting expression. It's made with sugar cane grown in fields on the south coast of Martinique, very close to the sea, which imparts a subtle…  More info

Trois Rivières Cuvee De L’Ocean
$34.39

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Part of the Dictador 100 Months range, this is the Amber expression, which is aged for 100 months (hence the name) in ex-bourbon barrels before it is bottled. It's a yummy Colombian rum well suited…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum
1
$37.56

Forsyths White 2015 - Habitation Velier

70cl, 57%
Worthy Park

An independently bottled Jamaican white rum from the Habitation Velier range. This was distilled by Worthy park using their Forsyths still, and has been bottled at 57% ABV.  More info

Forsyths White 2015 - Habitation Velier
$56.96

Clairin Sajous 2013

70cl, 53.5%
Distillerie Chelo

A Haitian style of rhum agricole here from the Clairin Sajous, made using sugar cane juice which has been reduced over fires of the remains of the sugar cane and fermented using wild yeasts (a bit…  More info

Clairin Sajous 2013
$52.28

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