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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.

L'amitié White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Grays

What type of ship is the friendliest? A friendship! Hilarious jokes aside, "L'amitié" means "friendship" in French, which is why this white rum from Grays distillery in Mauritius would make the…  More info

L'amitié White Rum
$25.94

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
$38.16

Holey Dollar Silver Coin Rum

70cl, 40%
Holey Dollar

The lowest strength offering in a series of Australian rums named after the early currency of the Australian colonies, only due to a scarcity of actually coins, rum was the preferred currency! Made…  More info

Holey Dollar Silver Coin Rum
$45.20

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
$32.54

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 5 year old Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo. It is made at Varela-Hermanos, which is a third generation family distillery that grows its own sugar cane and ages its rum in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial
$28.79

Westerhall Estate 2003 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Westerhall

Distilled on the island of Grenada in 2003, this rum was then bottled in the the UK by Bristol Spirits in 2015.  More info

Westerhall Estate 2003 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits
$79.34

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
$80.86

Atlantico Rum Reserva

70cl, 40%
Atlantico

This is a reserve rum from Dominican producer, Atlantico, which is aged in a Solera system. Tropical fruit and luxurious molasses notes, with a good helping on oak-y spice at the core. The Atlantico…  More info

Atlantico Rum Reserva
$38.97

Optimum Ron Blanco Rum 1l

100cl, 37.50%
Toorank

A white rum from the Optimum range, made in the Netherlands using rum imported from the Caribbean.  More info

Optimum Ron Blanco Rum 1l
$29.00

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
$26.51

Lost Spirits - Navy Style Rum (Cask Strength)

75cl, 68%
Lost Spirits

A cask strength rum from Californian scientists and distillers Lost Spirits. Made from fermented grade A molasses and using their own lab grown dunder with low rectification distillation. It's then…  More info

Lost Spirits - Navy Style Rum (Cask Strength)
$93.11

Papagayo Organic Fairtrade White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Papagayo

A white rum from Paraguay. Papagayo is both Organic and Fairtrade.  More info

Papagayo Organic Fairtrade White Rum
$25.43

Cabo Bay White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Wilhelm Braun Erben

This is a simple, uncomplicated white rum which has been produced in Germany. Good for use in cocktails and long drinks. It might be named after Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, which is often just called…  More info

Cabo Bay White Rum
$21.15

Optimum Premium Black Rum 1l

100cl, 37.50%
Toorank

A rich, sweet dark rum, which was imported from the Caribbean to the Netherlands. Should do well with your favourite mixer.  More info

Optimum Premium Black Rum 1l
$28.40

Bacardi Carta Oro 40%

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi is a world-class back-bar staple rum which was originally created in Cuba in the 1800s, though now produced in Puerto Rico. Bacardi Carta Oro is one of the most popular gold rums in the…  More info

Bacardi Carta Oro 40%
$27.09

Bacardi Superior 35cl

35cl, 37.50%
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
$14.73

J. Bally Rhum Ambre

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

Delicious gold rhum agricole made in Martinique, J Bally Ambre is brilliant on the rocks, or in a Mai Tai…  More info

J. Bally Rhum Ambre
$34.93

La Mauny Extra Rubis Rhum Agricole

70cl, 42%
La Mauny

Made with a blend of 6 rums which have been aged between 8 and 30 years in a mix of new oak and ex-bourbon casks, La Mauny Extra Rubis is an extraordinary premium rum. It was produced in Martinique,…  More info

La Mauny Extra Rubis Rhum Agricole
$184.13

Ron Calados White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Calados

A white rum from the Caribbean, Ron Calados is a cheap and cheerful white rum which is intended for mixing with strongly flavoured drinks like finest cola…  More info

Ron Calados White Rum
$19.95

Tilambic 151 Overproof Rum

70cl, 75.50%
Green Island

A high strength Mauritian rum, which is aged in oak for up to 7 years before being bottled at an eye-watering 75.5% ABV. Intense with dried fruits and plenty of spice. As with all high-strength…  More info

Tilambic 151 Overproof Rum
$68.48

Glen's White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Glen Catrine Distillers

This is a white rum from the West Indies, perfect for mixing in cocktails or serving over ice with a slice of lime.  More info

Glen's White Rum
$17.93

Matusalem 10 Year Old Clasico

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A Dominican rum, distilled in continuous stills and matured for an average of a decade using the solera system, the brand was started in Cuba in 1872, though eventually it emigrated, following the…  More info

Matusalem 10 Year Old Clasico
$29.44

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2015) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

A 2003 vintage rum from the Sancti Spiritus distillery in Cuba, bottled in 2015 for the Bristol Spirits range - a neat connection between South West England and the Latin America country.  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2015) - Bristol Spirits
$58.08

Bacardi Reserva Limitada

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A rather rare sight on these shores, Bacardi Reserva Limitada rum was originally only available from the distillery's gift shop! It's made with a blend of well-aged Puerto Rican rums, resulting in a…  More info

Bacardi Reserva Limitada
$242.74

Botran Solera 1893

70cl, 40%
Botran

A beautiful dark rum from Guatemala. Botran Solera 1893 is aged for around 5 to 18 years using the Solera method in casks that previously held sherry, port and bourbon. The rum itself is distilled…  More info

Botran Solera 1893
$55.17

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