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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.

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
$30.16

Don Q Gold

70cl, 40%
Serralles

Don Q Gold is produced in Puerto Rico using a multiple distillation technique, and is allowed to age in American oak barrels before it's bottled. A good choice for sipping neat or splashing in a…  More info

Don Q Gold
$29.50

Expedition Superior Light White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
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
$16.85

Medford Rum

75cl, 40%
GrandTen Distilling

New England used to be rather renowned for its rum, with rum from Medford being well regarded to the point of it becoming somewhat of a "thing". Though this was a long time ago, GrandTen Distilling…  More info

Medford Rum
$46.24

Cor Cor Green - Okinawan Rum

70cl, 40%
Grace Rum

While Cor Cor Green is a Japanese rum made with freshly pressed sugar cane, Cor Cor Red is a classic, molasses-based rum produced on the island of Minamidaitojima, which is located to the south of…  More info

Cor Cor Green - Okinawan Rum
$85.97

Bacardi Reserve - 1980s

70cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A 1980s bottling from Bacardi. Rum geeks? Christmas has come early.  More info

Bacardi Reserve - 1980s
$145.05

Grenada 8 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

8 year old rum from Grenada, an island country in the south-eastern Caribbean Sea. Soft spices and subtle floral notes of violets on the nose, with a full flavoured palate of ripe fruits to follow.…  More info

Grenada 8 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$48.04

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Third Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

The third edition of fantastic St Lucian rum, released yearly to celebrate many years of rum distillation on the island. This release is named 1931 after the year the Dennery Distillery was founded.…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Third Edition
$65.85

Worthy Park 8 Year Old - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Worthy Park

Delicious 8 year old Jamaican rum bottled by Bristol Spirits!  More info

Worthy Park 8 Year Old - Bristol Spirits
$55.63

Virgin Gorda Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

When you hear a name like The Poshmakers, you can't help but be worried there's a top hat or an ironic joke about the upper class on the way. Luckily for everyone involved, they're actually a…  More info

Virgin Gorda Rum
$49.84

Ron Barceló Gran Platinum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

The Gran Platinum rum from Dominican Republic producer Ron Barceló is made with rum aged in bourbon barrels, which is then filtered to remove the colour, but not the flavour. The result is rich in…  More info

Ron Barceló Gran Platinum
$24.11

Dictador 100 Months Aged Orange Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Interesting spiced rum from Colombian distillers, Dictador. They use an aged rum as a base, one that has been aged for 100 months (or 8.33333... years, if you prefer) in ex-bourbon casks before…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Orange Rum
1
$57.96

Bromista White Rum - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Thomas Waugh & Co., Ltd.

A rare and collectible bottle of Bromista White Rum, produced in the 1960s. It comes from Guyana and Barbados, and it calls itself "The perfect base for cocktails and long, cool drinks".  More info

Bromista White Rum - 1960s
$217.58

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
$44.02

Bacardi Superior 1l

100cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A litre bottle of every backbar's staple white rum, Bacardi carta blanca. Bacardi rums were first used when the original Cuba Libres and Daiquiris were being mixed in Cuba for luminaries such as…  More info

Bacardi Superior 1l
$37.97

Montero Ron Palido

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

A sweet, spicy rum from Spanish producer Ron Montero. This expression, the Ron Palido, is made using vacuum distillation and aged for between two-and-a-half and three years before it is bottled. Goes…  More info

Montero Ron Palido
$37.05

Ron Caney Añejo - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Ron Caney

A bottle of Ron Caney Añejo, produced in the 1960s. This brand of Cuban rum is still around today, and has been making rum for over 150 years.  More info

Ron Caney Añejo - 1960s
$290.10

New Grove Solera 25 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

Solera-aged rum from Mauritius, distilled for the New Grove brand of tasty rums. This limited edition bottling is made using rums aged for at least 25 years, expertly blended to produce a rich,…  More info

New Grove Solera 25 Year Old Rum
1
$193.00

New Grove Oak Aged Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

From the beautiful Island of Mauritius, all the way out in the Indian Ocean, comes the cracking New Grove Oak Aged Rum. A spicy, sensual blend of rums aged between 1 and 15 years. Perfect on ice for…  More info

New Grove Oak Aged Rum
$36.58

Atlantico Rum Platino

70cl, 40%
Atlantico

A Blanco bottling from Atlantico. Great in all manner of Rum cocktails.  More info

Atlantico Rum Platino
$32.17

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve

70cl, 40%
Zafra

This is the Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve rum, an absolutely ace Panamanian rum which was aged in bourbon barrels for just over two decades. Considering is was blended by a former Maestro Ronero…  More info

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve
1
$81.97

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
$32.24

Black Stripe White Rum

75cl, 40%
Black Stripe

Black Stripe is a white rum which has been made by blending Canadian and imported rums. Following this, it is allowed to age briefly before being filtered to remove the colour. Comes in a rather…  More info

Black Stripe White Rum
$47.68

Mocambo 10 Year Old Cask Aged Mexican Rum

70cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A 10 year old Mexican rum from Mocambo, presented in a bottle that might look a tiny little bit like an aftershave bottle. Rather fancy indeed.  More info

Mocambo 10 Year Old Cask Aged Mexican Rum
$41.59

Clarke's Court Pure Jab White Rum

75cl, 55%
Clarke's Court

Over proof white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada, presented in a plastic bottle. At 55% ABV, this would be well suited to use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Clarke's Court Pure Jab White Rum
$41.40

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