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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.

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
$28.60

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
$49.10

Havana Club Blanco 3 Year Old - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Havana Club

3 year old Havana Club Blanco rum, produced over 30 years ago. Aged blanco rums are excellent for cocktails, as they bring intense, rich flavour profiles but don't change the hue of your drinks -…  More info

Havana Club Blanco 3 Year Old - 1970s
$158.72

Bielle Rhum Ambré

50cl, 50%
Distillerie Bielle

Surely the soft, subtle golden hue of this Bielle rhum agricole at least partially inspired the expression's name: Ambré (which of course means amber). It's aged in oak at the distillery in…  More info

Bielle Rhum Ambré
$38.98

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi's classic white rum, just the ticket for those Daiquiris you've been wanting to make. This bottle was produced in the 1970s.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s
$158.72

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador 100 Months Claro Rum is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for... well... 100 months. Following this, the Claro is filtered to remove its colour but not the flavour, resulting in a…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum
$38.53

Toz White Gold (St. Lucia)

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

One of them fancy white rums that's actually aged and filtered so it can be used in cocktails without affecting the colour! This one is made at the St. Lucia distillery and is aged an average of…  More info

Toz White Gold (St. Lucia)
$52.79

Rhum J.M XO

70cl, 45%
Rhum J.M

Rhum agricole from Martinique, Rhum JM XO is made on the north of the island, in the foothills of Montagne Pelee, a volcano. The rum is distilled in column distilled and aged in oak for over 10 years.  More info

Rhum J.M XO
$74.76

Stroh Inländer Rum 1l - 1970s

100cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

Wowser. 80%. Yes, really. Stroh. Aaaaah. Stroh.  More info

Stroh Inländer Rum 1l - 1970s
$198.41

Captain Morgan Black Label - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

A fine old edition of Captain Morgan's scrummy dark rum "Black Label". This was bottled in the 1970s, and is a product of Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. Giving a product the name "Black Label"…  More info

Captain Morgan Black Label - 1970s
$158.72

Bacardi Carta de Oro - 1980s

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

This is a 1980's bottling of Barcardi's golden rum. Barcardi fled Cuba when Fidel Castro wanted the distillery for himself, well you can't blame the guy....  More info

Bacardi Carta de Oro - 1980s
$158.72

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A large, litre bottle of 1970s Bacardi Carta Blanca. Use this to make a perfect Daiquiri, or a crisp, refreshing Mojito…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s
$198.41

Sarmiento Bembibre Ron Marimba Blanco - 1970s

100cl, 0%
Sarmiento Bembibre

A very hard-to-find bottle of white rum from the 1970s. This comes from Leon, Spain.  More info

Sarmiento Bembibre Ron Marimba Blanco - 1970s
$158.72

Bardinet Ron Negrita Blanco - 1970s

70cl, 0%
Bardinet Distillery

This white rum was bottled in the 1970's by Bardinet and is now a collectable item.  More info

Bardinet Ron Negrita Blanco - 1970s
$158.72

Ron Guajiro 1l - 1980s

100cl, 40%
Cocal

Rum from the 1980s, bottled by Guajiro. A full litre no less!  More info

Ron Guajiro 1l - 1980s
$158.72

Bandama Ron Las Canadas - 1970s

75cl, 0%
Bandama

1970s rum. Let's all have a Daiquiri!  More info

Bandama Ron Las Canadas - 1970s
$105.82

Caribbean Cabana Blanca - 1970s

75cl, 35%
Caribbean Distillers

A rum from the 1970s. Who's got the cocktail umbrellas?  More info

Caribbean Cabana Blanca - 1970s
$158.72

Andresen Rum - 1970s

70cl, 54%
Hermann & Andresen

Dating from the 1970s, this collectible rum was bottled for the German market.  More info

Andresen Rum - 1970s
$158.72

New Grove Plantation Rum

70cl, 42%
Grays

A simple white rum from Mauritius, made by New Grove. Sweet and slightly nutty with a hint of grass, like how you imagine sugar cane should taste. Ought to make good friends with your favourite…  More info

New Grove Plantation Rum
$29.76

New Grove Silver

70cl, 37.50%
Grays

Blended white rum from the New Grove selection of fine expression. Made on the picturesque island of Mauritius. Perfect for cocktails. Sweet and floral, with a hint of spice on the finish. Sling it…  More info

New Grove Silver
$24.73

Ron Guajiro - 1970s

75cl, 0%
Cocal

A tall bottle of Ron Guajiro white rum from the 1970s, made by Cocal in the Canary Islands. We can't find an abv listen on the label, which is a bit scratched, but you try not having any scrapes…  More info

Ron Guajiro - 1970s
$158.72

Ron Montero Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

The Ron Montero distillery sits on the south coast of Granada, where it has been making Spanish rum since 1963. This is their Gran Reserva expression, which sits on the "Spicier" side of aged rums…  More info

Ron Montero Gran Reserva
$36.32

Ron Don Antañón - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Don Antanon

Yarr, it be a bottle o' Ron Don Antañón from the 1970s, it be! 100cl of old Spanish rum featuring what looks to be Horatio McCallister, the Sea Captain from The Simpsons, on the label.  More info

Ron Don Antañón - 1970s
$198.41

Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Lopez Hermanos

This is a bottle of Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani, a white rum which was produced in the 1970s in Malaga, Spain. I've been to Malaga. It's very nice. Didn't see any of this rum, though. Maybe if I went…  More info

Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani - 1970s
$198.41

K. A. Superb Trinidad Light Rum - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Kenneth Abbott Ltd

Superb Trinidad Light Rum, blended and bottled by Keith Abbott LTD in the 1970s. Rather rare, if a bit plainly decorated.  More info

K. A. Superb Trinidad Light Rum - 1970s
$158.72

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