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Rum

Popular Rum Types: Dark Rum | White Rum | Spiced 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.

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Spiced rum from Saint Lucia. Impressively, it was the only spiced or flavoured rum to receive a Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2013.  More info

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum
3
$22.04

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

A 7 year old Cuban rum, awarded gold medals at the Chicago World Spirits Championship in both 1995 and 1997. This was "añejo" the first Havana Club expression intended for sipping. Also makes a…  More info

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old
14
$26.19

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Kraken

An excellent spiced rum, with utterly brilliant packaging! This was launched in the UK in early 2010, and it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
44
$22.78

O.V.D. Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
George Morton Ltd

A dark Demerara rum from Guyana. This was aged in oak casks and has a sweet, creamy flavour.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum
14
$20.74

Foursquare 9 Year Old Port Cask Finish - Exceptional Cask Selection

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

Well this ought to be pretty awesome - a 9 year old rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados, which was initially aged for 3 years in bourbon casks, before being transferred over to Port casks…  More info

Foursquare 9 Year Old Port Cask Finish - Exceptional Cask Selection
3
$33.37

Plantation Artisanal Rum Gift Pack

60cl, 41.2%
Plantation

A fantastic gift pack, made to look like a cigar box, containing six different Plantation rums! Included are 10cl bottles of Plantation 3 Stars, Trinidad 2001, Jamaica 2001, Guatemala & Bélize Gran…  More info

Plantation Artisanal Rum Gift Pack
$66.08

Caroni 17 Year Old Rum 1998

70cl, 55%
Caroni

A 17 year old rum from the Caroni distillery in Trinidad, which has been closed for over 15 years. This was bottled at a generous 55% ABV by Italian bottler Velier.  More info

Caroni 17 Year Old Rum 1998
$95.45

Hampden 24 Year Old 1992 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 62%
Hampden

24 year old rum from the Hampden distillery, bottled at cask strength by Hunter Laing as part of their Kill Devil range! This was drawn from a single cask (laid down in April 1992) and bottled nearly…  More info

Hampden 24 Year Old 1992 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$215.57

Angostura 1919 Rum

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company, this is a blend of spirit aged for at least eight years in bourbon barrels.  More info

Angostura 1919 Rum
6
$32.86

Mocambo 10 Year Old Mexican Rum Bucaneer Pistol

20cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A glass buccaner's pistol full of Mocambo Mexican rum! Produced in Cordoba, this is the perfect gift for the pirate in your life.  More info

Mocambo 10 Year Old Mexican Rum Bucaneer Pistol
$26.06

Rebellion Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

A beautiful Trinidadian rum from a distillery founded in 1824. The producers recommend Rebellion Spiced be served long with cola and ice (and a squeeze of fresh lime juice).  More info

Rebellion Spiced Rum
1
$21.06

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Bleeding Heart Rum Co

A richly flavoursome rum from the Philippines, inspired by the story of Papa Isio, who played a big part in the late-19th century Philippine revolution. The rum itself is made using sugar cane grown…  More info

Don Papa Small Batch Rum
5
$33.76

New Dawn 18 Rum Solera Cask Strength Flagon

70cl, 65%
New Dawn Traders

A limited edition presentation of New Dawn Traders' Solera-aged Dominican Republic rum! Not only does it come in a very handsome traditional ceramic flagon, this has been bottled at cask strength.  More info

New Dawn 18 Rum Solera Cask Strength Flagon
$130.15

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum

70cl, 75.5%
Old J

A high-strength edition of Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum, which features plenty of vanilla and a touch of lime peel flavours at its core. The Tiki Fire bottling is presented at an intense 75.5%…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum
1
$38.13

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa 1796 is a blend of Venezuelan rums, vatted using the solera system, blended from rums aged between 8 and 12 years of age. After blending it is aged for a further year in bourbon barrels.…  More info

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera
8
$47.06

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

Made from rums of between 21 and 25 years of age, matured in 45 gallon oak casks, within six degrees of the equator in Guyana. El Dorado 21 was awarded a Gold at the International Rum Festival 2003…  More info

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve
10
$84.10

Gosling's Black Seal

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

A much rated rum from Bermuda. This was rated 96 out of 100 at the World Spirits Championship. It is named for the black sealing wax used to seal the stopper in place.  More info

Gosling's Black Seal
13
$22.30

Pirate's Grog No.13

70cl, 40%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

A single cask, 13 year old rum from Pirate's Grog! The outturn from the American oak cask was 777 beautifully presented bottles.  More info

Pirate's Grog No.13
$72.07

Watson's Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.  More info

Watson's Demerara Rum
2
$19.84

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 12 year old dark rum from Ron Abuelo of Panama. They age their rum in whiskey barrels, which adds a distinct vanilla sweetnses. This 12 year old was launched in 2009, and is elegant, slightly smoky…  More info

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old
5
$34.28

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35%
Old J

Based around the vibrant flavours of Persian lime and vanilla paired with classic rum notes, Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink (technically it's not a rum, as its ABV is under 37.5%) goes great over ice…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
2
$19.83

Watson's Trawler Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

Navy style dark rum made using spirit from Barbados and Guyana, aged in their countries of origin.  More info

Watson's Trawler Rum
$18.30

SangSom

70cl, 40%
SangSom

SangSom is a Thai rum that gained great popularity in the 1980's, thankfully it is once again beginning to get a lot more attention internationally. SangSom is made from sugar cane molasses and is…  More info

SangSom
4
$16.81

Bacardi 151 Rum

100cl, 75.5%
Bacardi

Perhaps the world's most famous "151" rum - a rum with an abv of 75.5%, Bacardi's 151 is a sweet, intensely spicy affair and a must-have for various rum-based cocktails.  More info

Bacardi 151 Rum
1
$78.92

Ron de Jeremy XO

70cl, 40%
Ron de Jeremy

The Ron de Jeremy range of rums continues to grow. Ron de Jeremy XO is made using a blend of well-aged pot and column distilled rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, matured in American bourbon…  More info

Ron de Jeremy XO
$42.29

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