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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, 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.

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
$17.98

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
$61.72

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
$16.16

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
1
$13.42

La Bourdonnais Finest Mauritius Cane Juice Rhum (Bristol Spirits)

70cl, 43%
La Bourdonnaise

From the Bristol Spirits range of independently bottled rums comes an unaged Mauritian rhum agricole, made with a base of distilled cane juice rather than molasses. The result is bright, light and…  More info

La Bourdonnais Finest Mauritius Cane Juice Rhum (Bristol Spirits)
$38.25

Rum Nation Panama 18 Year Old (2014 Release)

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

An 18 year old rum from Panama, bottled by the Italian company Rum Nation. A complex rum, rich with tannic notes from the cask, dried fruits and an elegant nuttiness.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 18 Year Old (2014 Release)
$60.46

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
$78.20

Bacardi Reserve - 1980s

70cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

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

Bacardi Reserve - 1980s
$131.95

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
$59.90

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
$50.60

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
$21.93

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
$40.63

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
$197.92

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
$40.05

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
$28.53

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
$263.89

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
$33.28

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
$29.33

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
$43.37

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
$37.66

Clément XO Rhum Agricole

70cl, 44%
Clément

This Martinique rhum agricole from Clément is a premium release for the brand, featuring vintages that date back to the 1970s and even one that goes back to the 1950s, among other younger vintages.…  More info

Clément XO Rhum Agricole
$179.14

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc

50cl, 59%
Distillerie Bielle

This is a blanc rhum agricole from the Rhum Bielle, located on the small island of Marie-Galante, located just south of Guadeloupe. It's been bottled at 59% ABV, preserving its intense, grassy and…  More info

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc
$28.50

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
$45.80

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
$41.64

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
$131.95

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