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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.

Mount Gay Silver

100cl, 40%
Mount Gay

Mount Gay Eclipse Silver is distilled from fermented molasses. A perfect cocktail mixer, it boasts fresh and fragrant sugar cane and tropical fruits as well as peppermint.  More info

Mount Gay Silver
$45.51

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof

70cl, 75.50%
Gosling's Rum

A super high strength dark rum from Bermuda. Despite the 75.5% of Gosling's Black Seal 151, this is a very smooth rum, and it's utterly delicious. Well worth trying.  More info

Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof
14
$35.46

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

The oldest rum in the Santa Teresa catalogue, Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer is made with very old Venezuelan rums. It is named in honour of Alberto J Vollmer, who founded the brand.  More info

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer
3
$137.67

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest

70cl, 37.50%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

Ahoy thar, matey! Spied this treasure chest full o' Pirates Grog rum, have ye? Yarr, shiver me timbers, this be one for me hearties... Ahem. Excuse me. As I was saying, this is a very handsome…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest
5
$65.69

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

From the producers of Santiago de Cuba comes a treasure chest full of Cuban rum! The rum itself isn't just sloshing around in the chest - it comes presented in a vintage-looking ceramic decanter.  More info

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro
$625.50

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
2
$1310.94

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend

70cl, 43%
Appleton Estate

Previously known as "12 Year Old Extra", Appleton's Rare Blend is a top rum aged in American oak barrels.  More info

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend
3
$39.64

Diplomático Ambassador

70cl, 47%
Diplomático

Diplomatico's flagship, the Ambassador was created by Tito Cordero, Golden Barrel Award's 2011 Master Rum Blender of the Year. Expect huge juicy sweetness and flavour thanks to its maturation in…  More info

Diplomático Ambassador
3
$214.14

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
9
$53.64

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
57
$23.52

El Dorado Rare Collection - Port Mourant 1999

70cl, 61.40%
El Dorado

One of a trio of rums from El Dorado's Rare Collection, launched in 2016. Each one features rum from one of three renowned Guyanese rum distilleries - this one comes from the double wooden pot still…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Port Mourant 1999
$217.81

Captain Morgan Black Spiced 1l

100cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

A one litre bottlng of darker spiced rum from Captain Morgan made with blackstrap Caribbean rum and finished in double charred oak casks. Perfect with cola or ginger beer and a slice of lime.  More info

Captain Morgan Black Spiced 1l
$28.74

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A superb old rum from Peru, Ron Millonario made this XO from molasses and distil it in column stills before maturation in American white oak barrels. The result is a smooth, sweet, creamy sippin' rum.  More info

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial
7
$92.38

Pusser's Blue Label

70cl, 40%
Pusser's

The Pusser's Rum collection has had a bit of a revamp. While their Blue Label is still made with the exact same blend of rums - a recipe from the Admiralty - it is now bottled at 40% abv rather that…  More info

Pusser's Blue Label
8
$24.03

Foursquare 11 Year Old Zinfandel Cask Blend - Exceptional Cask Selection

70cl, 43%
Foursquare

A 'single blended rum' from Foursquare containing pot and column still rums, matured in either bourbon or Zinfandel casks, aged for 11 years.  More info

Foursquare 11 Year Old Zinfandel Cask Blend - Exceptional Cask Selection
$45.38

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition

70cl, 47%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

Created for the self-described "hardest working man in showbiz", this is a spiced variant on the superb Ron de Jeremy. It's a Panama rum, flavoured with vanilla and various exotic spices, and…  More info

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition
8
$35.39

St Nicholas Abbey 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A stunning 10 year old dark rum created at the North of Barbados at St Nicholas Abbey, owned by Larry Warren. This is made by blending pot and column still rums that were acquired by Larry when he…  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 10 Year Old
3
$94.25

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
2
$28.61

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

This is the 12 year old expression from Santiago de Cuba's range of rums. A well put-together expression from the Cuban distillers, plenty to enjoy here.  More info

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo
2
$53.93

Foursquare Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Foursquare

One of the best spiced rums on the market, Foursquare is a delicious Bajan rum which makes an incredible spicy mojito!  More info

Foursquare Spiced Rum
4
$25.87

R L Seale's 10 Year Old

70cl, 43%
R L Seales

Quite possibly the greatest packaging ever to grace our humble, but delicious, shelves. R L Seales is a rich 10 year old rum from Barbados, lots of character and richness, very smooth too.  More info

R L Seale's 10 Year Old
11
$37.59

Bacardi Reserva

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

This is a fairly rare golden rum from, veteran rum producer Bacardi. This rum has been aged in oak casks and has been charcoal filtered.  More info

Bacardi Reserva
$38.20

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
4
$22.75

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

Flor de Caña 18 year old is a very well-aged expression from Nicaragua. This was awarded Double Gold medals at the 2006 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  More info

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario
3
$58.38

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hampden

Another handsome Kill Devil rum bottled by Hunter Laing, this time from Hampden Estate in Jamaica. 316 bottles were produced.  More info

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$67.76

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