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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.

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%)
$46.96

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años

70cl, 40%
Ron Vigia

18 year old Cuban rum from the Ron Vigia range. Rich and inviting with notes of thick molasses, tobacco leaf and dark chocolate.  More info

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años
$75.85

Myers's Planters Punch Rum - 1984

100cl, 40%
Myers's Rum

A classic brand of blended rum, made using Jamaican rum aged in bourbon barrels. This bottle comes from the year 1984, so there's probably some sort of security camera watching it at all times, or…  More info

Myers's Planters Punch Rum - 1984
$148.48

Rebellion Premium Black Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

A delicious blend of rums from the Caribbean, Rebellion Premium Black is bottled in The Netherlands. This is a lovely dark rum with a superb cocoa-rich palate.  More info

Rebellion Premium Black Rum
$20.48

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
$22.51

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
$49.32

Bielle 2009 (bottled 2013) Rhum Vieux Agricole

50cl, 42%
Distillerie Bielle

Rhum agricole from Marie-Galante matured for 4 years in ex-bourbon barrels before a finishing period in ex-Cognac casks.  More info

Bielle 2009 (bottled 2013) Rhum Vieux Agricole
$44.57

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002

70cl, 63%
El Dorado

The El Dorado Rare Collection gives light to three of Guyana's most well-loved rum distilleries - Port Mourant, Enmore and Versailles. This one comes from the single wooden pot still of Versailles,…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002
$164.92

Trois Rivières Cuvée Du Moulin Rum

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

A well-aged, rich rhum agricole from Trois Rivières, Cuvée Du Moulin is an utterly beguiling spirit with masses of spice and complexity.  More info

Trois Rivières Cuvée Du Moulin Rum
$45.52

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
$148.48

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
$24.34

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
$50.05

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)
$95.69

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
$31.65

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
$24.20

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
$25.72

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
$21.49

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
$205.13

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)
$56.26

WM Cadenhead 11 Year Old Green Label Barbados Rum

70cl, 46%
WM Cadenhead

From WM Cadenhead's Green Label range of independently bottled rums comes an 11 year old rum which was distilled in beautiful Barbados.  More info

WM Cadenhead 11 Year Old Green Label Barbados Rum
$50.83

J. Bally 3 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

A 3 year old rhum agricole matured in Limousin oak casks. The iconic pyramid bottle was first used by Jacques Bally around 1930, although the rum is distilled at Saint James today.  More info

J. Bally 3 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$36.90

J. Bally 12 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

12 year old rhum agricole from Martinique in the Bally brand's famous pyramid-shaped bottle!  More info

J. Bally 12 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$56.22

Ron Arecha Extra de Jose Arechabala - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Jose Arechabala

This is a rare bottle of Ron Arecha Extra de Jose Arechabala, produced in the 1960s. If the name Jose Arechabala is familiar to you, that is because it is the name behind Havana Club! Please be…  More info

Ron Arecha Extra de Jose Arechabala - 1960s
$222.71

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole

70cl, 42%
Clément

Don't miss out on the first Clément 15 Year Old, a fine rhum agricole which a huge proportion lost to 'the angels' share'!  More info

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole
$114.81

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

From Dictador distillers in Colombia comes a rum which has been aged for 100 months in ex-bourbon barrels before being filtered though Arabica coffee beans - one of Colombia's many well know goods.…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum
$38.10

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