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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.

Rhum J.M Vintage 2002

70cl, 44.80%
Rhum J.M

A 2002 vintage agricole rhum from Martinican distillers, Rhum J.M - a rich, well-aged rhum, packed with notes of brown sugar and walnut cake. Yum...  More info

Rhum J.M Vintage 2002
$110.76

Ron Cartavio Solera 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

A Solera-aged Peruvian rum from Ron Cartavio. This expression was matured for an average of 12 years before being bottled. If you've yet to experience rum from Peru, this warming, coffee-rich delight…  More info

Ron Cartavio Solera 12 Year Old
$50.90

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Part of the Dictador 100 Months range, this is the Amber expression, which is aged for 100 months (hence the name) in ex-bourbon barrels before it is bottled. It's a yummy Colombian rum well suited…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum
1
$56.86

Dzama 6 Year Old Rhum

70cl, 45%
Compagnie Vidzar

Spicy notes swim in a sea of delicious vanilla in the wonderful Dzama (pronounced "zama") 6 Year Old Rhum from Madagascar, made by Vidzar. It has aged splendidly, giving it a handsome hue and a very…  More info

Dzama 6 Year Old Rhum
$48.37

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

5 year old rum from the Real McCoy range (which is named after what people supposedly used to call the spirits sold by Bill McCoy, legendary Prohibition-era smuggler). The rum spends its maturation…  More info

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old
$36.60

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva 1l

100cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An excellent choice for cocktails, Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva is crafted using a blend of Venezuelan rums, aged for up to 5 years. Bags of sweet molasses and fruit notes, dusted with peppery…  More info

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva 1l
$46.28

Takamaka Bay White Rum

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Bay

A white rum from the Seychelles-based Takamaka Bay rum range. Crisp and subtly sweet, this'll make the perfect base for cocktails and mixed drinks...  More info

Takamaka Bay White Rum
$31.75

Lamb's Navy Rum 'HMS Warrior' Ceramic Decanter - 1980s

75cl, 40%
Lamb's

One of those rare and collectible ceramic decanters from Lamb's - this one displays a picture of the ship HMS Warrior. It was produced in the 1980s.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum 'HMS Warrior' Ceramic Decanter - 1980s
$146.63

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
$112.73

J. Bally Millésime 2000 Rhum Vieux

70cl, 43%
J. Bally

Wonderfully flavourful and rich, this is a vintage 2000 Rhum Vieux from J.Bally, a producer in Martinique. Enjoy over ice or perhaps in a Mai Tai.  More info

J. Bally Millésime 2000 Rhum Vieux
$88.61

Caribbean Blended Rum - Batch 2001 (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 46%
Duncan Taylor

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

Caribbean Blended Rum - Batch 2001 (Duncan Taylor)
$73.20

Expedition Caribbean White Rum 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
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
$42.55

Rhum St Barth Cool

70cl, 50%
St. Barth

This white rum is bottled at 50% abv let has a smooth and deliciously sweet flavour to it that can be added to a variety of punches and cocktails.  More info

Rhum St Barth Cool
$57.43

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
$54.41

Cor Cor Red - 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, south of the main islands which…  More info

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum
$69.94

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
$41.10

Trinidad Original Dark Plantation Rum

70cl, 40%
Plantation

Produced in Trinidad and Tobago, this is a youthful blend of young dark rums aged in bourbon casks and bottled by the Plantation company. A light, elegant spirit.  More info

Trinidad Original Dark Plantation Rum
$31.94

Bacardi Carta Blanca (75cl) - 1980s

75cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

This collectible bottle of Bacardi Carta Blanca white rum was produced in the power-suited, big-haired decade known as the 1980s. Heady days indeed.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca (75cl) - 1980s
$146.63

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
$51.70

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
$26.82

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
$36.01

Clarkes Court Superior Light Rum

75cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This is a light and mellow, gold medal winning white rum from Clarkes Court.  More info

Clarkes Court Superior Light Rum
$31.70

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)

75cl, 43%
St. George Spirits

This right here is the 2014 harvest of California Agricole Rum from St. George Spirits, made with sugar cane grown in Southern California. The St. George distillers take this sugar cane and extract…  More info

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)
$76.92

Reserve Rum of Nicaragua 2002 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Compania Licorera de Nicaragua

This is Bristol Spirits' Reserve Rum of Nicaragua, which was distilled in column stills at Compania Licorera de Nicaragua (the same place that Flor de Caña is produced). It was distilled in 2002 and…  More info

Reserve Rum of Nicaragua 2002 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits
$54.43

Ogasawara Rum

70cl, 40%
Ogasawara Rum

Japanese Rum from the Ogasawara Islands (which are also known as the Bonin Islands), produced using sugar cane grown on the islands. A classically-style molasses-based rum, with plenty of fruit,…  More info

Ogasawara Rum
$58.26

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