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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.

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
$26.26

Bielle 2006 (bottled 2011) Rhum Vieux Agricole

50cl, 42%
Distillerie Bielle

This 2006 rhum vieux agricole from Rhum Bielle was aged in oak casks from 2006 to 2011, allowing for the casks to impart flavour and mellow the robust spirit. It was distilled on the small island of…  More info

Bielle 2006 (bottled 2011) Rhum Vieux Agricole
$48.45

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a 3 year old rhum agricole, distilled for Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, using fresh sugar cane juice. Oodles of fruity, floral notes (this grapefruit, mango and…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux
$59.16

Rhum de Père Labat - Rhum Doré

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

Golden rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, distilled on the island of Marie-Galante, south of Guadeloupe. Made from fermented sugar cane juice, resulting in an intense flavour profile, highlighted…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat - Rhum Doré
$43.12

Ronrico White Label - 1960s

76cl, 40%
Ronrico

White Label white rum from the Ronrico brand, produced in Puerto Rico in the 1960s. The label has suffered a fair bit of damage, but this remains very collectible indeed.  More info

Ronrico White Label - 1960s
$174.04

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s

The Ru

A Jamaican white rum with a highly questionable character on the neck of the bottle. The rum itself should be less questionable though. Please note that the label does not state the volume or ABV…  More info

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s
$145.03

Epris 15 Year Old - WM Cadenhead

70cl, 45.40%
Epris

Brazilian rum, produced by the Epris distillery and left to age for 15 years. Following that rather lengthy maturation, it was bottled by one of Scotland's oldest independent bottlers, WM Cadenhead,…  More info

Epris 15 Year Old - WM Cadenhead
$59.26

Black Head Rum 100cl

100cl, 37.50%
Black Head

A simple white rum - enjoy with your favourite mixer or in 'Special Cocktails', as the bottle suggests.  More info

Black Head Rum 100cl
$22.71

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
$28.73

Rives Conde De Cuba

70cl, 37.50%
Rives

A dark Caribbean rum from Spanish producer, Rives. Expet notes of caramel, vanilla toffees and a waft of floral fragrance.  More info

Rives Conde De Cuba
$28.05

WM Cadenhead 9 Year Old Green Label Haitian Rum

70cl, 46%
WM Cadenhead

This is a 9 year old Haitian rum, released as part of their Green label range by WM Cadenhead, one of the oldest Scottish independent bottlers.  More info

WM Cadenhead 9 Year Old Green Label Haitian Rum
$37.04

WM Cadenhead 12 Year Old Green Label Nicaraguan Rum

70cl, 46%
WM Cadenhead

Independently bottled 12 year old Nicaraguan rum, presented as part of WM Cadenhead's Green Label range, packed with rums from all over the world.  More info

WM Cadenhead 12 Year Old Green Label Nicaraguan Rum
$42.84

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
$44.79

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
$47.99

Don Q Gold - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Serralles

This is a bottle of Don Q Gold, produced in the 1970s. The Don Q brand is owned by the Serrallés, whom have been producing rum in Puerto Rico since 1865.  More info

Don Q Gold - 1970s
$174.04

Santa Teresa Claro 1l

100cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A bigger bottle of Santa Teresa's top quality Claro white rum. This Venezuelan rum ages for around three years in American white oak casks before being filtered to remove the colour, but not the…  More info

Santa Teresa Claro 1l
$38.61

Karukera Gold

70cl, 40%
Karukera

An aged rhum agricole from Guadeloupe producer, Karukera. They suggest that this one works very well in cocktails, so this would be rather handy drink to have on your backbar.  More info

Karukera Gold
$35.82

Karukera Silver

70cl, 40%
Karukera

Good for use in cocktails, Karukera Silver is an unaged rhum agricole from Guadeloupe produced using distilled sugar cane juice. Try it with cane sugar syrup and lime for a refreshing Ti' Punch…  More info

Karukera Silver
$31.65

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años

70cl, 40%
Ron Vigia

18 year old Cuban rum from the Ron Vigia range. Rich and inviting with notes of thick molasses, tobacco leaf and dark chocolate.  More info

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años
$88.90

Clément XO Rhum Agricole 42%

70cl, 42%
Clement

Well aged rhum agricole from the Clément range, which is produced in Martinique. Lots of dried fruit, old oak and intriguing herbaceous notes running through the core of this one.  More info

Clément XO Rhum Agricole 42%
$68.79

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
$174.04

Haitian Rum 9 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

An independent bottling of 9 year old Haitian rum, presented by Berry Brothers & Rudd, who are rather well known for their independent bottlings of whisky, as well as for being top wine merchants…  More info

Haitian Rum 9 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
$76.46

Pusser's British Navy Rum Blue Label - 1980s

75cl, 54.50%
Pusser's

A 1980s bottling of Pusser's Blue Label British Navy Rum. This expression, bottled at a full-on 54.5% ABV, is now called the Black Label Gunpowder Proof rum, with the Blue Label now bottled at 40%…  More info

Pusser's British Navy Rum Blue Label - 1980s
$174.04

Doorly's 3 Year Old - 1990s

70cl, 37.50%
Doorly's

A half bottle of Doorly's 3 Year Old Rum from the 1990s - quite collectible, particularly for those that love the brand, which is still going today. And yes, it still has a tropical bird on the label…  More info

Doorly's 3 Year Old - 1990s
$58.01

Lamb's Navy Rum - 1980s

75cl, 40%
Lamb's

The 1980s gave us a lot - 2 Star Wars films, cassette tapes, and this bottle of Lamb's Navy Rum! Rather collectible indeed.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum - 1980s
$145.03

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