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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.

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel

70cl, 40%
Clément

To achieve the depth of flavour and wonderful mouth-feel for their Select Barrel Rhum Vieux Agricole, the Clément distillers in Martinique choose only the finest casks to create the expression with.…  More info

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel
$41.95

Bacardi Carta Fuego Spirit Drink

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A warming spiced-rum-based-spirit-drink from Bacardi, with a focus on the fiery notes of cinnamon. Bacardi Carta Fuego ages in torched oak barrels for at least a year and is charcoal filtered before…  More info

Bacardi Carta Fuego Spirit Drink
$27.72

Rhum J.M. Vintage 1994

70cl, 45.20%
Rhum J.M

A 1994 vintage Rhum Agricole from the Rhum J.M. distillers in Martinique. From 1994 to 2009, this intense, vibrant rum, made from pressed-sugar cane juice rather than molasses, matured in oak. It has…  More info

Rhum J.M. Vintage 1994
$224.93

Dos Maderas 5+3

70cl, 37.50%
Williams & Humbert

A blend of 5 year old Bajan and Guyanaese rums (aged in American oak), which is then sent over to Jerez for a further maturation in Dos Cortado Palo Cortado Sherry casks.  More info

Dos Maderas 5+3
$42.33

Don Q Gran Añejo

70cl, 40%
Serralles

A blend of 6 to 12 year old Puerto Rican rum from the Don Q range. At the top end of their range, the Gran Añejo is very exciting stuff indeed. Enjoy neat or even over a few ice cubes on a warm…  More info

Don Q Gran Añejo
$65.26

Clément Canne Bleue 2014

70cl, 50%
Clément

A single varietal rhum agricole - not something you see every day, is it? This is the 2014 vintage, made by Clément in Martinique using juice exclusively with a variety of sugar cane known as Canne…  More info

Clément Canne Bleue 2014
$42.11

Bacardi Black

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A lovely dark rum, now bottled at 40% (as opposed to 37.5%), from stalwart producers Bacardi. This is rich, full and spicy and works brilliantly in a variety of cocktails…  More info

Bacardi Black
$35.88

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
La Mauny

La Mauny 1749 Ambré is an aged Rhum Agricole from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean. 1749 Ambré is matured for at least 12 months before it is bottled.  More info

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole
$33.79

Stroh Inländer 80 50cl

50cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

Stroh 80 is an intense, fiery spiced rum from Austria, made with all kinds of spice extracts and essences. It is worth trying in warming hot chocolates, or in spicy cocktails such as the Jagertee.  More info

Stroh Inländer 80 50cl
7
$35.58

Lost Spirits - Navy Style Rum (Navy Strength)

75cl, 57%
Lost Spirits

Lost Spirits are dedicated to understanding the chemistry of cask aged spirits, and the good news is that they put their money where their mouth is from time to time too! Bottled at 57%, this…  More info

Lost Spirits - Navy Style Rum (Navy Strength)
1
$69.40

Santa Teresa Claro

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A Venezuelan rum aged in American white oak for around 3 years before being filtered to remove the colour. Santa Teresa Claro offers plenty of fruity notes, and is great in cocktails.  More info

Santa Teresa Claro
$21.73

Bacardi Reserva

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

This is a fairly rare golden rum from, veteran rum producer Bacardi. This rum has been aged in oak casks and has been charcoal filtered.  More info

Bacardi Reserva
$42.52

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Fourth Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

Back in 1931, the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. This year is honoured by St. Lucia Distillers (who were formed by the merger of the Dennery Distillery and other distillery in 1972)…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Fourth Edition
$75.49

Opthimus 15 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

An excellent Solera-aged rum from the Opthimus range, produced by Oliver y Oliver.  More info

Opthimus 15 Rum
$54.93

La Mauny Blanc Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
La Mauny

Looking to take the first step into Rhum Agricole, a rum made with the juice of freshly squeezed sugar cane, but don't know where to start? This Blanc Rhum Agricole from La Mauny would make a great…  More info

La Mauny Blanc Rhum Agricole
$33.43

Mezan Jamaica Long Pond 2000 Rum

70cl, 40%
Long Pond Distillery

From Mezan's top-class selection of independently bottles rums comes a 2000 vintage Jamaican rum distilled by Long Pond, the distillery where Captain Morgan's rum was established! This is a sweet,…  More info

Mezan Jamaica Long Pond 2000 Rum
$40.87

Westerhall White Jack

75cl, 70%
Westerhall

Westerhall White Jack form Grenada is a 70% abv rum, winner of The Spirits Business Rum Gold Award 2011.  More info

Westerhall White Jack
$44.87

Watson's Trawler Rum 35cl

35cl, 40%
Ian Macleod Rum Distillery

A blended rum with spirit from Guyana and Barbados and a seal of approval winner at the 1997 International Spirits Challenge.  More info

Watson's Trawler Rum 35cl
$10.91

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
$26.60

Mount Gilboa

70cl, 40%
Mount Gilboa

This is triple distilled in pot stills at the same distillery in Barbados that makes Mount Gay. A wonderfully refined, characterful rum.  More info

Mount Gilboa
1
$51.56

Mezan Trinidad Caroni 1999 Rum

70cl, 40%
Caroni

All the way from gorgeous Trinidad comes this 1999 vintage rum, distilled by Caroni and bottled by Mezan. Independently bottled rum isn't a regular sight on these shores, so it's always a treat when…  More info

Mezan Trinidad Caroni 1999 Rum
$45.15

Ron Botran Solera 1893 18

70cl, 40%
Botran

A rich, warming Guatemalan rum from the Ron Botran selection. Sitting at the top of their range, this features rum aged up to 18 years in a Solera system with American oak, Sherry and Port casks.  More info

Ron Botran Solera 1893 18
$46.61

St Aubin Blanc

50cl, 50%
St Aubin

St Aubin Rhum Agricole comes from Mauritius, and is made by distilling fresh sugar cane juice in the French method. St Aubin itself has been in the business of sugar production since 1819, and…  More info

St Aubin Blanc
1
$42.37

Rhum J.M White

70cl, 50%
Rhum J.M

A white Rhum Agricole from Martinique. Rhum JM offers an intense aroma of pepper, floral notes and tropical fruit, with a sweet, warming palate with loads of flavour.  More info

Rhum J.M White
$44.03

Ron Barceló Blanco

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

A white rum from the Ron Barceló range, produced in the Dominican Republic. It spends one year in oak barrels, before it is barrelled, allowing it to develop some more character and flavour.  More info

Ron Barceló Blanco
$26.70

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