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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.

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Ron Pampero

A crisp, fruity white rum produced in Venezuela by Ron Pampero. Aged for at least 2 years (as is the law in the country for all rum), this is a smooth, premium spirit which works well in cocktails,…  More info

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum
$18.89

Takamaka Bay Overproof Rum

70cl, 72%
Takamaka Bay

This is Takamaka bay's Overproof Rum, distilled in the Seychelles. As ever with overproof spirits, this should be well-diluted before enjoying - it ought to work wonderfully in mixed drinks and…  More info

Takamaka Bay Overproof Rum
$41.24

Ron Botran Añejo 12

70cl, 40%
Botran

A blend of delicious Guatemalan rums between 5 and 12 years old.  More info

Ron Botran Añejo 12
$27.70

Captain Morgan White

70cl, 37.5%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan White is a classic Caribbean rum that works splendidly in cocktails and mixed drinks. Captain-and-Coke is a tasty combination enjoyed in bars and pubs the world over.  More info

Captain Morgan White
2
$16.50

Bielle 2008 40th Anniversary

70cl, 53.4%
Distillerie Bielle

Natural cask strength rhum agricole from Marie-Galante bottled to celebrate Bielle's 40th anniversary in 2015. A limited release of 1,500 bottles.  More info

Bielle 2008 40th Anniversary
$98.05

Matusalem Platino Rum

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A triple distilled white rum, aged using the solera method in the Dominican Republic. Matusalem Platino is crisp, clean and tangy, and works beautifully in cocktails.  More info

Matusalem Platino Rum
$21.80

Don Q Cristal

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The entry level expression from the Don Q rum range - the Don Q Cristal is made using multiple distillation method to achieve its desired flavour profile, and allowed to rest in American oak barrels…  More info

Don Q Cristal
$24.81

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
$23.63

Captain Flint White Rum

70cl, 40%
Captain Flint

White rum which has been named after the fearsome, treasure buryin', rum drinkin' pirate in the literary classic 'Treasure Island' - Captain Flint.  More info

Captain Flint White Rum
$22.57

Ron Botran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Botran

Botran Reserva is a delicious Guatemalan rum aged for between 5 and 14 years. Made from the best virgin sugar honey, this rum is aged in a Solera system in a mix of bourbon, port and sherry casks.  More info

Ron Botran Reserva
3
$37.84

Haitian Rum 9 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

An independent bottling of 9 year old Haitian rum, presented by Berry Brothers & Rudd, who are rather well known for their independent bottlings of whisky, as well as for being top wine merchants…  More info

Haitian Rum 9 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
$71.02

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
2
$14.83

Legendario Ron Dorado

70cl, 38%
Legendario

Great for cocktails and mixed drinks, Legendario's Ron Dorado is a subtly sweet, seductive Cuban rum. Should make for a good Palmetto, we reckon.  More info

Legendario Ron Dorado
$23.53

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
$46.75

Soldiers Bay Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Soldiers Bay

Soldiers Bay is a white rum from the last distillery remaining on the island of Antigua, in the West Indies. Suitable for all manner of rum-based cocktails, particularly the Daiquiri.  More info

Soldiers Bay Silver Rum
$27.70

Takamaka Bay St André Rhum Vesou

70cl, 40%
Takamaka Bay

A rhum agricole from the Seychelles-based Takamaka Bay range, made with the juice of sugar cane grown on the island of Mahé. Very fresh with a touch of sweetness to it.  More info

Takamaka Bay St André Rhum Vesou
$37.82

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

The 12 year old Real McCoy rum, matured in heavily charred bourbon barrels. Rich and oak-y, with bundles of Christmas cake, Demerara sugar and pipe tobacco notes. The 'Real McCoy' name is based on…  More info

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old
$45.44

Alnwick White Knight Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Alnwick Rum

A Guyanese white rum, which has been brought down to bottling strength with water from Northumberland and bottled for the Alnwick Rum range.  More info

Alnwick White Knight Rum
$25.93

Mezan Jamaica XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Mezan

This is a blend of casks from two distilleries in Jamaica: Monymusk and Hampden. The latter distillery has Scottish roots, and is one of the oldest sugar plantations in the country. It has always…  More info

Mezan Jamaica XO Rum
8
$30.46

Expedition Caribbean White Rum 1.5l

150cl, 37.5%
Hall and Bramley

A 1.5 litre bottle of Caribbean rum (distilled in Guyana and Barbados) imported and bottled by Hall & Bramley. Perfect for creating delicious mixed drinks.  More info

Expedition Caribbean White Rum 1.5l
$36.17

Bacardi Carta Negra 40%

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Rich, sweet dark rum from one of the most well known spirits brands in the world - Bacardi. This bottling of Bacardi Carta Negra has been bottled at a slightly-higher-than-usual 40% ABV, and still…  More info

Bacardi Carta Negra 40%
1
$20.71

Clément VSOP

70cl, 40%
Clément

Clément VSOP is a rhum agricole, matured for a year in virgin French oak barrels, before a three maturation in re-charred bourbon barrels. This was awarded a Gold by the Beverage Tasting Institute…  More info

Clément VSOP
$42.23

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l

150cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A magnum of the classic Carta Blanca white rum from Bacardi. First created by Don Facundo Bacardi, a Spaniard who travelled to Cuba as a teenager.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l
4
$52.94

Dictador Solera XO Perpetual

70cl, 40%
Dictador

A premium Columbian Solera rum from Dictador, complete with their European design and Japanese bottles. This XO release is aged in the finest oak casks and brought down to 40% abv with demineralised…  More info

Dictador Solera XO Perpetual
3
$77.84

New Grove Old Tradition 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

8 year old Mauritian rum from the New Grove brand. Suited to slow sipping in the evening, with an ice cube or two if you're lucky enough to be enjoying this in Mauritius.  More info

New Grove Old Tradition 8 Year Old Rum
$43.94

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