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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.

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez

70cl, 40%
Williams & Humbert

A 'double aged' rum, although it could be considered to be triple aged. Rums from Barbados and Guyana are matured for five years in the Caribbean before being transported to Jerez where they are…  More info

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez
5
$43.56

St Nicholas Abbey White Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A white rum from the St Nicholas Abbey distillery in Barbados. Winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, the highest medal awarded in its category.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey White Rum
$43.36

Brugal XV

70cl, 38%
Brugal

A well aged, well blended rum from top Dominican producers, Brugal. To create the XV, they use a selection of ex-bourbon casks and casks which have previously held Pedro Ximénez Sherry, aged between…  More info

Brugal XV
2
$28.20

Bacardi Superior 35cl

35cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A half bottle of Bacardi Carta Blanca. A great mixer, very versatile and well suited to a refreshing Daiquiri!  More info

Bacardi Superior 35cl
1
$12.94

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Herman Jansen

Holy Spirit Gold Label is an aged rum from Barbados, released by the chaps behind the Sweden Rock Festival. Plenty of creamy vanilla, tropical fruit and a touch of chocolate - enjoy in a cocktail,…  More info

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum
$47.03

Rhum St Barth Chic

70cl, 40%
St. Barth

This is a rich spicy rhum agricole from the West Indies. Enjoy neat or in an exciting cocktail concoction.  More info

Rhum St Barth Chic
$48.92

Epris 16 Year Old 1999 (cask 3) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 47.5%
Epris

A single cask bottling of rum from the Epris distillery in Brazil, distilled in 1999 and bottled 16 years later by Duncan Taylor.  More info

Epris 16 Year Old 1999 (cask 3) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$67.07

Ron Cartavio Solera 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

A Solera-aged Peruvian rum from Ron Cartavio. This expression was matured for an average of 12 years before being bottled. If you've yet to experience rum from Peru, this warming, coffee-rich delight…  More info

Ron Cartavio Solera 12 Year Old
$42.94

Wild Tiger Special Reserve Rum

70cl, 40%
Wild Tiger

The uniquely presented Wild Tiger Special Reserve Rum comes to us from India, and is aged in American oak barrels before being bottled at 40% ABV. It'll certainly stand out on your back-bar.  More info

Wild Tiger Special Reserve Rum
1
$22.65

St Aubin Natural Spices Rhum Agricole

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

From the artisan St Aubin distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this spiced Rhum Agricole, made using sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses, which is what you would find in most other spiced…  More info

St Aubin Natural Spices Rhum Agricole
1
$27.51

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

A 7 year old rhum agricole from the J. Bally range produced on the island of Martinique. This comes in a pyramid-shaped bottle - pyramids are rather sturdy three-dimensional shapes, and are indeed…  More info

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$50.16

Chamarel VS Rum

70cl, 40%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

This is the VS expression of Chamarel rhum agricole, distilled in Mauritius using sugarcane which they cultivate themselves.  More info

Chamarel VS Rum
$43.61

Chamarel XO Rum

70cl, 43%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole aged for 6 years in French oak, Charamel XO is a family favourite for the producer.  More info

Chamarel XO Rum
$74.49

J. Bally Millésime 2002 Rhum Vieux

70cl, 43%
J. Bally

A 2002 vintage rhum agricole from J. Bally, produced on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean.  More info

J. Bally Millésime 2002 Rhum Vieux
$74.54

Sweden Rock Extra Old Rum - 25 Year Anniversary

70cl, 40%
Herman Jansen

A limited edition Guyanese rum released in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Sweden Rock Festival, held yearly in Norje. Very handsomely packaged, with a presentation box designed to look…  More info

Sweden Rock Extra Old Rum - 25 Year Anniversary
1
$103.56

New Grove Oak Aged Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

From the beautiful Island of Mauritius, all the way out in the Indian Ocean, comes the cracking New Grove Oak Aged Rum. A spicy, sensual blend of rums aged between 1 and 15 years. Perfect on ice for…  More info

New Grove Oak Aged Rum
$32.22

Rhum Rhum PMG (56%)

70cl, 56%
Rhum Rhum

A higher-ABV edition of Rhum Rhum PMG, produced on the small island of Marie Galante (just off the coast of Guadeloupe) by Distillerie Bielle. Really impressive stuff, well worth a look for rhum…  More info

Rhum Rhum PMG (56%)
$50.93

Rational Spirits Cuban Inspired Rum (141 Proof)

75cl, 70.5%
Rational Spirits

A Cuban-inspired rum from the Rational Spirits folks, made with Grade A molasses, pot distillation and maturation in charred and toasted new American oak casks. This one has been bottled at 141…  More info

Rational Spirits Cuban Inspired Rum (141 Proof)
$64.40

Elements 8 Platinum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This white/platinum rum is matured for 4 years in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, blended from over 10 different rums. Element 8 is diluted with naturally filtered rainforest water.  More info

Elements 8 Platinum
$32.82

Nicaraguan Rum 11 Year Old 2004 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

An 11 year old Nicaraguan rum from an undisclosed distillery, drawn from a single cask which was filled in 2004. It was bottled with an outturn of 337 bottles by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil…  More info

Nicaraguan Rum 11 Year Old 2004 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$61.56

Desilver White Rum

70cl, 40%
DeSilver

White spiced rum? Now I've seen everything! That's right, the DeSilver White Rum is made with a selection of "secret spices" from St. Barth and carries a story about the pirate named DeSilver from…  More info

Desilver White Rum
$31.76

Ron Los Valientes 15 Year Old

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A fascinating 15 year old rum made up of a blend of 70% double pot-distilled sugar cane juice and 30% column still molasses rum. It was aged in old American oak barrels and named after the heroes of…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 15 Year Old
$35.81

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
$40.73

Contrabando 5

70cl, 38%
Contrabando

Molasses rum from the Dominican Republic aged in a solera system. The packaging and name are pretty cool too!  More info

Contrabando 5
$29.45

A.H. Riise 1888 Copenhagen Gold Medal Rum

70cl, 40%
A. H. Riise

From the A.H. Riise range of rums (which honour Danish pharmacist and entrepreneur Albert Heinrich Riise whom worked in the Danish West Indies in the mid-1800s) comes an expression named after a…  More info

A.H. Riise 1888 Copenhagen Gold Medal Rum
$45.05

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