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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.

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva Gift Pack

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A handsome gift pack of Matusalem 15 Gran Reserve Dominican rum, aged in a Solera system for an average 15 years, along with a branded glass and a spherical ice mould, lovely for keeping the sweet,…  More info

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva Gift Pack
$36.27

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s

The Ru

A Jamaican white rum with a highly questionable character on the neck of the bottle. The rum itself should be less questionable though. Please note that the label does not state the volume or ABV…  More info

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s
$151.77

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Gold

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

Flor de Caña recommend this gold 4 year old rum as a mixing product. It was awarded a Best in Class at the 2005 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.  More info

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Gold
$24.88

Nicaraguan Rum 17 Year Old 1999 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 59.5%
Hunter Laing

A cask strength bottling of Nicaraguan rum from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range. This was distilled in January 1999 and allowed to mature in a single cask for 17 years before being bottled at a…  More info

Nicaraguan Rum 17 Year Old 1999 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$94.26

Lamb's Navy Rum

70cl, 40%
Lamb's

Lamb's rum is a very good value for money Navy rum made with rums from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum
2
$18.21

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)

75cl, 43%
St. George Spirits

This right here is the 2014 harvest of California Agricole Rum from St. George Spirits, made with sugar cane grown in Southern California. The St. George distillers take this sugar cane and extract…  More info

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)
2
$66.35

Admiral Benbow Navy Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Benbow

This was named after the legendary Admiral John Benbow who served in the Royal Navy from 1678 to 1702. It's a rich navy-style rum and it works very well in cocktails or with mixers.  More info

Admiral Benbow Navy Rum
1
$15.05

Monymusk Special Reserve Rum

70cl, 40%
Monymusk

A blend of rums from the Monymusk distillery in Jamaica, which were aged individually in charred oak casks before being blended together. Great over ice on warm evenings.  More info

Monymusk Special Reserve Rum
$40.25

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

Sugar cane rhum from Ron Palma Mulata de Cuba aged for three whole years in American oak before being bottled as a blanco 'reserva'.  More info

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old
$21.64

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Cuba Ron

Matured for three years, the Carta Blanca is the youngest rum from the Cuban producers, Ron Cubay. Made exclusively using Cuban molasses, it's a top quality rum for cocktails or even enjoyed neat.  More info

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca
$23.13

Trois Rivieres VSOP

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

The Trois Rivieres VSOP expression is allowed to mature for at least 5 years, resulting in a well flavoured, rich rhum agricole. This comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.  More info

Trois Rivieres VSOP
$51.16

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

A well-aged agricole rum (or rhum) from Guadeloupe, which is part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Interesting fact: World Cup and European Championship winning French footballer Lilian…  More info

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$97.82

New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

This is the New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum, matured in a selection of French Limousin casks and port pipes. This Mauritian rum is suited to sipping neat or being used in a cocktail which…  More info

New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum
$32.35

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
$24.74

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

75cl, 49.5%
Smooth Ambler

A marvellously impressive rum released by the chaps at Smooth Ambler out in West Virginia, USA. They've got a good nose for great spirits (as obvious from their Old Scout whiskey), and have bottled…  More info

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum
3
$79.00

Botran Reserva Blanca

70cl, 40%
Botran

Like Botran's other rums, the Reserva Blanca has been aged in a Solera system using ex-bourbon casks. However, after the maturation process, this expression has been charcoal filtered to remove the…  More info

Botran Reserva Blanca
$26.29

Papagayo Organic Fairtrade White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Papagayo

A white rum from Paraguay. Papagayo is both Organic and Fairtrade.  More info

Papagayo Organic Fairtrade White Rum
$21.97

Chairman's Reserve Finest St Lucia Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Chairman's Reserve is a St Lucian Rum blended from pot still and continuous still rums.  More info

Chairman's Reserve Finest St Lucia Rum
6
$20.94

Westerhall No.7 Rum

70cl, 40%
Westerhall

Westerhall Rum No.7 was unveiled in mid-2016 as part of the Westerhall Estate range redesign, taking the place of their Westerhall Dark Rum. It's been aged for 7 years, during which time its taken on…  More info

Westerhall No.7 Rum
$34.73

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection

70cl, 40%
Angostura

The second release of Angostura's Cask Collection No.1 is a 16 year old rum from Trinidad which was allowed to age for 10 years in American oak casks before being transferred over to once-used French…  More info

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection
$96.86

El Dorado Rare Collection - Port Mourant 1999

70cl, 61.4%
El Dorado

One of a trio of rums from El Dorado's Rare Collection, launched in 2016. Each one features rum from one of three renowned Guyanese rum distilleries - this one comes from the double wooden pot still…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Port Mourant 1999
$209.69

Plantation Nicaragua 2003

70cl, 42%
Plantation

2003 vintage Nicaraguan rum, matured for 9 years before enjoying a brandy cask finish. Complex and intriguing with sweet floral touches and notes of cashew nut and tropical fruits. Part of the top…  More info

Plantation Nicaragua 2003
$35.43

Travellers Distillery 10 Year Old 2005 Belize Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Travellers Distillery

A single cask rum from the Travellers Distillery in Belize, bottled by Hunter Laing for their excellent Kill Devil range. It was distilled in 2005 and bottled at 10 years old, with 377 bottles…  More info

Travellers Distillery 10 Year Old 2005 Belize Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$57.51

Enmore 24 Year Old 1992 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Enmore

A single cask bottling of Guyanese rum from the Enmore distillery, bottled by Hunter Laing as part of the rather brilliant Kill Devil range (cracking bottle and label design on these). This was…  More info

Enmore 24 Year Old 1992 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$150.71

Facundo NEO

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A comforting premium rum from Bacardi's Facundo range, named after the company's founder. Rums aged up to 8 years are blended and then charcoal filtered to remove the colour for aged notes in a…  More info

Facundo NEO
$42.10

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