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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.

Havana Club 15 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

This 15 year old is created by 'repeatedly' blending the rums and aguardientes and maturing them in old oak barrels. Havana Club's Primer Maestro Ronero, Don José Navarro, describes this as "Cuban…  More info

Havana Club 15 Year Old
9
$157.06

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
7
$21.38
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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
4
$19.91

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
5
$22.06
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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
12
$44.61
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Dead Man's Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

A spiced rum created by the chaps behind The Rum & Crab Shack in St. Ives (which serves tasty seafood and top rum - sounds excellent to us). This is made using a blend of Caribbean rums alongside a…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum
4
$26.71
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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
$43.08
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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
3
$38.53
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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
$65.34

Dead Man's Fingers Coconut

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

A lip-smacking spiced rum from the South West, created by the folks from The Rum & Crab Shack. This particular variation is based around the tropical flavours of coconuts, and will work wonderfully…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Coconut
$23.17

Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old

50cl, 46.2%
Ableforth's

Just when you thought Rumbullion! and Rumbullion! Navy-Strength couldn't be beat, Ableforth's bring us Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old. Once again, it's a spectacular, shipshape spiced rum inspired by…  More info

Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old
12
$66.31
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HMS Victory Navy Strength Rum

70cl, 57%
Isle of Wight Distillery

This is a Navy strength blend of rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica, which has been finished in casks that have a stave made from wood taken from famous Royal Navy warship, HMS Victory. It was…  More info

HMS Victory Navy Strength Rum
$48.61

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
6
$26.36
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Rumbullion! Navy-Strength

70cl, 57%
Ableforth's

Ableforth's took their famous Rumbullion! and bottled it at Navy Strength to create a much much 'bigger' drink. This is a warming concoction that would no doubt give a sailor vim and vigour on a…  More info

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength
15
$54.14
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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
1
$29.25

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
64
$27.05
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Black Magic Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Sazerac

A spiced rum inspired by legends and adventures 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
3
$29.71
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El Dorado 15 Year Old

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

This was rated the best rum in the world at the International Wine and Spirit Competition four years running. This is pot-distilled and matured in bourbon barrels.  More info

El Dorado 15 Year Old
18
$58.99
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Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

This was first produced in Santiago de Cuba over 130 years ago. It is aged using the Solera process, so on average the rums contained herein are 15 years old.  More info

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva
7
$36.32
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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
$18.81
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Foursquare Premise - Exceptional Cask Selection

70cl, 46%
Foursquare

The eighth bottling from the Exceptional Cask series and the third bottling released in 2018 alongside Dominus and 2005, Foursquare Premise is a blend of pot and column distilled rums which was…  More info

Foursquare Premise - Exceptional Cask Selection
$48.95

Kirk & Sweeney 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Kirk & Sweeney

A rather brilliant 18 year old rum from an undisclosed Dominican distillery, bottled as part of the Kirk & Sweeney range. Surely this will be a treat for enjoying over a few ice cubes (or perhaps a…  More info

Kirk & Sweeney 18 Year Old
1
$49.72
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Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros

70cl, 45%
Havana Club

The new edition of Havana Club's very popular Cuban Barrel Proof, Seleccion de Maestros is a superb rum, bottled at higher strength.  More info

Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros
12
$58.88

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
2
$33.37
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Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

50cl, 40%
Havana Club

The Havana Club Máximo is an Extra Añejo rum made from a decidedly illustrious blend of rare, old rums taken from their extensive reserves, crafted by the skilled hands of Maestro Ronero, Don José…  More info

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo
5
$1,366.03

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