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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.

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
1
$18.84

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Don Papa

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
10
$36.38

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Zacapa

The stunning special release from Zacapa. This Guatemalan classic won Gold at the International Rum Festival, and won the Platinum award in the Super-Premium category in 2002. This is an incredible…  More info

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial
14
$102.25

Black Magic Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Sazerac

A spiced rum inspired by legends and adventured involving magic potions that can transform a person to become more gregarious, enchanting and charismatic! Dare you seek the skull?  More info

Black Magic Spiced Rum
2
$29.76

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
61
$26.97

Alnwick Rum

70cl, 43%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick is a bold, spicy dark rum, perfect for making a big impression in cocktails and mixed drinks. Based on a recipe which was first created over 90 years ago in Northumberland, Alnwick rum is…  More info

Alnwick Rum
$29.31

El Dorado 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A great 12 year old Demerara rum from El Dorado. This has won golds at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test in London 7 times in the first 10 years! There are nine stills at the distillery, and this is based…  More info

El Dorado 12 Year Old
20
$41.37

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

After the positively rousing response the Magnum bottles of Ableforth's Bathtub Gin received, they decided to put together some Magnum bottles for their ship-shape spiced rum, Rumbullion!…  More info

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)
$85.27

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Spices

70cl, 40%
Bombo

From the Bombo Rum range made in Cornwall, bottled at 40% ABV and flavoured with caramel and a secret combination of tropical spices. Also, got a particularly angry looking skull on it, as opposed to…  More info

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Spices
5
$28.96

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Ron Cubay

Matured for three years, the Carta Blanca is the youngest rum from the Cuban producers, Ron Cubay. Made exclusively using Cuban molasses, it's a top quality rum for cocktails or even enjoyed neat.  More info

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca
$24.75

Jack Ratt Lugger Rum

70cl, 40%
Lyme Bay Winery

Jack Ratt Spiced Rum is produced by the fine folks at Lyme Bay Winery in Devon, made with Caribbean rum aged in bourbon barrels and spiced with nutmeg, orange peel, clove and vanilla. The name comes…  More info

Jack Ratt Lugger Rum
2
$42.05

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve

70cl, 40%
Plantation

This is a 5 year old Barbados rum from the Plantation range, aged in bourbon barrels before being transported to Cognac Ferrand in France for a finish in Cognac casks! Very good indeed...  More info

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve
5
$32.29

Gold of Mauritius Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Gold of Mauritius

Gold! Always believe in your rum! We're pretty sure that's not how the song goes, but never mind, here's some very tasty rum from Mauritius! Gold of Mauritius matures in South African fortified wine…  More info

Gold of Mauritius Dark Rum
11
$44.70

Angostura 12 Year Old "1824"

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A top quality rum hand selected by the master blender from select casks at Angostura. This is matured in American oak bourbon barrels for at least 12 years when it is blended and re-casked. It offers…  More info

Angostura 12 Year Old
6
$60.39

Santiago de Cuba 11 Years Old Añejo Superior

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

11 year old rum from the brilliant Santiago de Cuba. A deliciously spicy expression, with enough fruity esters and brown sugar notes to balance it out wonderfully.  More info

Santiago de Cuba 11 Years Old Añejo Superior
1
$65.47

SangSom

70cl, 40%
SangSom

SangSom is a Thai rum that gained great popularity in the 1980s, 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
5
$18.43

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A superb single estate Venezuelan rum, Santa Teresa 1796 is made using the solera method (used more famously in the production of Spanish sherry). The rums in the blend are aged for between five and…  More info

Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera
15
$56.11

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary Gift Pack with 2x Glasses

70cl, 40%
Plantation

A great gift for the rum fanatic in your life - this is a bottle of Plantation's 20th Anniversary XO Rum from Barbados, presented alongside a pair of tasting glasses.  More info

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary Gift Pack with 2x Glasses
$64.58
Special Offer

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

Panamanian rum from Rum Nation. Not Zombie Nation. That's something different.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old
$101.96
$74.25

Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum

50cl, 40%
Firebox

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you phoenixes, harvest their tears and make Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum. This glittery tipple is made with a base of Caribbean rum along with…  More info

Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum
2
$44.27

Bumbu Original Rum

70cl, 35%
Bumbu

A spiced rum based on 16th and 17th century 'bumbo' recipes, Caribbean spices are added with no artificial flavourings or colours at all.  More info

Bumbu Original Rum
2
$38.61

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
6
$21.42

Burning Barn Smoked Rum

70cl, 40%
Burning Barn

An intriguingly rich rum which is aptly smoky considering the name of its producers - Burning Barn. They make this expression by cold smoking their rum with local apple wood, imparting obvious…  More info

Burning Barn Smoked Rum
$39.84

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum

70cl, 57%
Wood's

Wood's is made from the finest sugar cane and distilled in Guyana, South America. Bottled at 57% abv, it is one of the highest percentage volume dark rums out there right now, at least at this…  More info

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum
37
$28.35

Bundaberg Rum Export Strength 1L

100cl, 40%
Bundaberg

A slightly-higher-than-standard strength bottling of Australia's world-famous Bundaberg rum. Great in cocktails and mixed drinks, and (as ever) features a polar bear on the label, which we've always…  More info

Bundaberg Rum Export Strength 1L
$40.35

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