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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.

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc 1l

100cl, 59%
Distillerie Bielle

A 1 litre bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum Bielle on the small island of Marie-Galante, which you'll find just south of Guadeloupe. Bottled at 59% ABV, this is an intense rhum, packed with…  More info

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc 1l
$52.34

Caribbean Collection - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Bristol Spirits

From the Bristol Spirits collection comes a blend of rums from Trinidad, perfect for enjoying in cocktails and mixed drinks. Packed with notes of muscovado sugar and rich toffee - yummers.  More info

Caribbean Collection - Bristol Spirits
$37.60

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
$33.59

FAIR. 10 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
FAIR.

A limited edition release from the FAIR. range, this 10 year old rum is a Fairtrade Certified made with sugar cane from Belize, matured in American oak casks for a whole decade.  More info

FAIR. 10 Year Old Rum
$62.62

Angostura 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A blend of aged rums, matured in bourbon barrels before undergoing filtration. This is a continuous-still rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company.  More info

Angostura 7 Year Old
3
$37.87

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
$47.22

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
$55.93

Clarkes Court #37 Limited Edition

70cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This blended Caribbean rum is the thirteenth limited release rum from Clarkes Court. The rum was designed to be supplied to exclusive social events and it has a rich and rewarding flavour thanks to…  More info

Clarkes Court #37 Limited Edition
2
$59.52

SangSom

70cl, 40%
SangSom

SangSom is a Thai rum that gained great popularity in the 1980's, thankfully it is once again beginning to get a lot more attention internationally. SangSom is made from sugar cane molasses and is…  More info

SangSom
4
$19.05

Barbancourt 3 Star (4 Year Old)

70cl, 40%
Barbancourt

A popular bottling from the superb Barbancourt range of rhums and rhums agricole. 3 star is actually a 4 year old expression rum exhibits classic Haitian character.  More info

Barbancourt 3 Star (4 Year Old)
3
$31.90

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
$32.97

Dzama 6 Year Old Rhum

70cl, 45%
Compagnie Vidzar

Spicy notes swim in a sea of delicious vanilla in the wonderful Dzama (pronounced "zama") 6 Year Old Rhum from Madagascar, made by Vidzar. It has aged splendidly, giving it a handsome hue and a very…  More info

Dzama 6 Year Old Rhum
$47.58

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old

75cl, 40%
Foursquare

5 year old rum from the Real McCoy range (which is named after what people supposedly used to call the spirits sold by Bill McCoy, legendary Prohibition-era smuggler). The rum spends its maturation…  More info

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old
$36.00

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

An interesting blend of rum made with sugar cane juice and rum made with molasses, which is then aged for 10 years in oak barrels. A Mexican spirit, the "Los Valientes" rum comes from the phrase…  More info

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum
$28.72

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva 1l

100cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An excellent choice for cocktails, Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva is crafted using a blend of Venezuelan rums, aged for up to 5 years. Bags of sweet molasses and fruit notes, dusted with peppery…  More info

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva 1l
$45.52

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a rhum agricole from the Père Labat range, distilled on the small island of Marie-Galante in 1997. Bottled at 42% ABV, this ought to be rather rich and flavoursome expression, packed with the…  More info

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997
$123.52

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
$32.68

Takamaka Bay White Rum

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Bay

A white rum from the Seychelles-based Takamaka Bay rum range. Crisp and subtly sweet, this'll make the perfect base for cocktails and mixed drinks...  More info

Takamaka Bay White Rum
$31.23

J. Bally Millésime 2000 Rhum Vieux

70cl, 43%
J. Bally

Wonderfully flavourful and rich, this is a vintage 2000 Rhum Vieux from J.Bally, a producer in Martinique. Enjoy over ice or perhaps in a Mai Tai.  More info

J. Bally Millésime 2000 Rhum Vieux
$87.16

Martinique 12 Year Old - Anniversary Edition Rhum Agricole (Rum Nation)

70cl, 43%
Martinique

A beautifully presented 12 year old Martinique rhum agricole (made from cane juice) from Rum Nation. Wicked skills.  More info

Martinique 12 Year Old - Anniversary Edition Rhum Agricole (Rum Nation)
1
$103.90

Clement Canne Bleue 2014

70cl, 50%
Clement

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

Clement Canne Bleue 2014
$43.57

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
$29.90

Caribbean Blended Rum - Batch 2001 (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 46%
Duncan Taylor

A blended rum from 2001 - bottled by Duncan Taylor.  More info

Caribbean Blended Rum - Batch 2001 (Duncan Taylor)
$72.00

XM Royal 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Banks DIH

This is a delicious Guyana rum from Banks DIH, made by ageing spirit in bourbon casks for at least a decade. The rum is then finished in sherry casks for six months before bottling.  More info

XM Royal 10 Year Old
1
$44.41

Expedition Caribbean White Rum 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
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
$41.85

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