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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.

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
$25.22

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

Single cask rum from Cuba, distilled in 2003 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2012. Yum!  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$45.09

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
$99.68

Rhum de Père Labat 50

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

A 50% ABV bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, produced on the island of Marie-Galante, which is located just south of Guadeloupe. At 50% ABV, this will stand out in cocktails…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 50
$32.18

Elements 8 Platinum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This white/platinum rum is matured for 4 years in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, blended from over 10 different rums. Element 8 is diluted with naturally filtered rainforest water.  More info

Elements 8 Platinum
$32.04

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
$68.66

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

Distilled for the Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, just south of Guadeloupe, this rhum agricole spends 8 years maturing in oak before it is bottled. Rich, simmering spices abound!…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux
$98.77

Expedition Superior Light White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Hall and Bramley

A white rum which has been distilled in Guyana and Barbados, then bottled by Hall & Bramley. Just the ticket for cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Expedition Superior Light White Rum
$14.72

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

Virgin Gorda 1493 is a golden blend of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados, the oldest of which is eight years old. The producers describe it as 'sensual'.  More info

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum
$33.72

Guyanan Rum 14 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

Guyana once had a rather bustling distillery community back in the day, but those days have sadly passed. However, don't be sad for too long, as Berry Bros. & Rudd can still get their hands on…  More info

Guyanan Rum 14 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
1
$68.03

Westerhall Superb Light Rum

75cl, 40%
Westerhall

Westerhall Superb Light Rum, made in Grenada, in the West Indies, and it's, well, superb!  More info

Westerhall Superb Light Rum
1
$23.84

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
$42.17

Clarke's Court Special Dark Rum

75cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This is a dark rum from Clarkes Court which is aged in ex-Bourbon casks to give it it's amber hue and oaky flavour.  More info

Clarke's Court Special Dark Rum
$30.96

Dynasty White Rum 1l

100cl, 37.5%
Dynasty

A German white rum, good for use in cocktails and punches. It's got a pair of boats on the label. Picturesque.  More info

Dynasty White Rum 1l
$24.12

Francisco Montero 50th Anniversary Rum

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

A rich expression from Ron Francisco Montero, who have been producing rum since 1963. It was released in 2013, marking their 50th anniversary. The rum features spirits aged for at least 10 years.  More info

Francisco Montero 50th Anniversary Rum
$80.18

Cubaney Exquisito 21 Year Old 1988 - Grand Reserve X.O.

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

This is the Ron Cubaney Exquisito, a richly flavoursome rum from the Dominican Republic which has enjoyed a lengthy amount of time maturing in a Solera system. Really excellent stuff, this.  More info

Cubaney Exquisito 21 Year Old 1988 - Grand Reserve X.O.
$52.74

Banks 7 Island Rum

70cl, 43%
Banks

This is a follow-up to the successful Banks 5 Island Rum which is a blend of rums from five Caribbean islands, the Banks 7 Islands is unsurprisingly a blend of rums from seven Caribbean islands.…  More info

Banks 7 Island Rum
$47.01

Florida Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Florida Distillers

Made with Florida sugar cane and distilled in Florida, this rum does what it says on the tin! It's rested in American oak barrels before the final filtration. Perfect for mojitos.  More info

Florida Rum
$22.07

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
$41.92

Chairman's Reserve White Label

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

From the Chairman's Reserve range comes the White Label rum, which was actually aged in American white oak barrels for two to four years. Afterwards, it was filtered to remove the colour, but not the…  More info

Chairman's Reserve White Label
$21.27

El Dorado Rare Collection - Enmore 1993

70cl, 56.5%
El Dorado

The Enmore from El Dorado's Rare collection, distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2015. The Rare Collection shows off rum from three of Guyana's well-loved rum distilleries - Enmore, Versailles and Port…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Enmore 1993
$189.98

Stroh Inländer Rum - early 1980s

100cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

A bottle of Stroh Inländer Rum, which we think was produced in the early 1980s, and bottled at an incredibly intense 80% ABV. Blimey.  More info

Stroh Inländer Rum - early 1980s
$152.03

Chamarel XO Rum

70cl, 43%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole aged for 6 years in French oak, Charamel XO is a family favourite for the producer.  More info

Chamarel XO Rum
$73.86

Ron Los Valientes 15 Year Old

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A fascinating 15 year old rum made up of a blend of 70% double pot-distilled sugar cane juice and 30% column still molasses rum. It was aged in old American oak barrels and named after the heroes of…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 15 Year Old
$35.51

Caribbean Blended Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 46%
Duncan Taylor

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

Caribbean Blended Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$52.47

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