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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.

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l

150cl, 35%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan's Spiced is a blend of Caribbean rums, flavoured with a mix of vanilla and cassia. Aged in Scotland in charred casks.  More info

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l
3
$36.99

Lamb's Demerara Navy Rum - 1970s

76cl, 40%
Lamb's

Produced by Lamb's in the 1970s, this is a delicious and very rare Navy-style rum based on oak-aged spirit distilled in Guyana, home to the famous Demerara river.  More info

Lamb's Demerara Navy Rum - 1970s
$186.71

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial Extra Dry Rum

70cl, 40%
Brugal

Classic white rum from Dominican producers, Brugal, which is aged for at least one year to mellow out some of the overly intense qualities of rum straight from the still. This tasty rum is no…  More info

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial Extra Dry Rum
$21.61

Papa's Pilar 3 Blonde Rum

75cl, 42%
Papa's Pilar

Papa's Pilar 3 Blonde Rum is made with a blend of pot and column still rums from Florida, Central America and the Caribbean, which has been solera aged in bourbon and Port casks, and has been…  More info

Papa's Pilar 3 Blonde Rum
$44.55

Rhum de Père Labat 40

70cl, 40%
Rhum de Père Labat

A blanc rhum agricole from Père Labat, bottled at 40% ABV. This flavoursome rhum, made with the juice of pressed sugar canes, comes from Marie-Galante, an island just south of Guadeloupe.  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 40
$27.42

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
$19.16

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
$16.48

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
$97.94

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
$23.60

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
$22.54

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
$23.50

Mount Gay 1703

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

A new and very exciting addition to the Mount Gay range. 1703 celebrates the foundation of the Barbados-based Mount Gay distillery, and it was created by Allen Smith, the master distiller. It…  More info

Mount Gay 1703
8
$123.11

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
$27.67

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
$37.78

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
$45.38

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
$25.90

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
$30.94

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
$36.12

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
$20.69

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
$52.88

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
$43.89

Plantation Panama 2004

70cl, 42%
Plantation

An independent bottling of rich, spicy 2004 vintage rum from Panama, presented as part of the Plantation Rum range. Enjoy neat or over ice to enjoy the full-bodied flavour profile, which pairs sweet…  More info

Plantation Panama 2004
$38.11

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
$51.63

Legendario Añejo Blanco

70cl, 40%
Legendario

A white Cuban rum, that spent a short time resting in oak barrels prior to a final filtration to remove the colour. Hugely popular in Spain.  More info

Legendario Añejo Blanco
$32.10

Elements 8 Cacao Rum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

A premium St. Lucian rum infused with criollo cacao beans, which would work well in a variety of cocktails.  More info

Elements 8 Cacao Rum
$32.10

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