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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.

Bromista White Rum - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Thomas Waugh & Co., Ltd.

A rare and collectible bottle of Bromista White Rum, produced in the 1960s. It comes from Guyana and Barbados, and it calls itself "The perfect base for cocktails and long, cool drinks".  More info

Bromista White Rum - 1960s
$187.18

Montero Ron Palido

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

A sweet, spicy rum from Spanish producer Ron Montero. This expression, the Ron Palido, is made using vacuum distillation and aged for between two-and-a-half and three years before it is bottled. Goes…  More info

Montero Ron Palido
$26.98

Clarke's Court Pure Jab White Rum

75cl, 55%
Clarke's Court

Over proof white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada, presented in a plastic bottle. At 55% ABV, this would be well suited to use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Clarke's Court Pure Jab White Rum
$35.61

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva 1l

100cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An excellent choice for cocktails, Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva is crafted using a blend of Venezuelan rums, aged for up to 5 years. Bags of sweet molasses and fruit notes, dusted with peppery…  More info

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva 1l
$39.38

J. Bally Millésime 2000 Rhum Vieux

70cl, 43%
J. Bally

Wonderfully flavourful and rich, this is a vintage 2000 Rhum Vieux from J.Bally, a producer in Martinique. Enjoy over ice or perhaps in a Mai Tai.  More info

J. Bally Millésime 2000 Rhum Vieux
$75.41

Captain Morgan's Black Label - 1980s

100cl, 43%
Captain Morgan

This bottle of Captain Morgan's Black Label dark rum was bottled in the 1980s. Production methods and sources of ingredients often change over the years, as such this could be very different to the…  More info

Captain Morgan's Black Label - 1980s
$149.74

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
$26.98

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
$46.32

Bacardi Carta Blanca 37.5cl - 1970s

38cl, 40%
Bacardi

1.25 litres of Bacardi Carta Blanca which was distilled in the 1970s, a spirit collector's dream!  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 37.5cl - 1970s
$74.87

Lamb’s Navy Rum Decanter - 1980s

75cl, 40%
Lamb's

This is a rare Lamb's Navy Rum Decanter, produced in the 1980s. Like almost everything from Lamb's, this has plenty of maritime influence to it, not just in the style of rum, but the decanter's…  More info

Lamb’s Navy Rum Decanter - 1980s
$187.18

Lamb’s 100 Extra Strong Navy Rum HMS Victory Ceramic Decanter - 1980s

75cl, 57%
Lamb's

This is a beautiful decanter of Lamb's 100 Navy Rum, which was bottled (decanted?) at 57% ABV. It was produced over 30 years ago in the 1980s. The decanter itself features the HMS Victory, the…  More info

Lamb’s 100 Extra Strong Navy Rum HMS Victory Ceramic Decanter - 1980s
$149.74

Stroh Inländer Rum 1l - 1970s

100cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

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

Stroh Inländer Rum 1l - 1970s
$187.18

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
$187.18

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1980s

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A 1980s bottling of Bacardi Carta Blanca. This is a full litre bottle of the classic white rum.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1980s
$149.74

Bardinet Ron Negrita Blanco - 1970s

70cl, 0%
Bardinet

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

Bardinet Ron Negrita Blanco - 1970s
$187.18

Lamb's Navy Rum - 1990s

70cl, 40%
Lamb's

This is a very rare 1990s bottling of the classic British Navy Rum - Lamb's. It's a legendary blend of 18 different pot-still rums from the Caribbean, from such countries as Trinidad and Guyana.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum - 1990s
$99.83

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
$149.74

Bandama Ron Las Canadas - 1970s

75cl, 0%
Bandama

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

Bandama Ron Las Canadas - 1970s
$149.74

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
$149.74

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
$149.74

New Grove Silver

70cl, 37.5%
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
$23.33

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
$34.27

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
$187.18

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
$187.18

Bacardi Carta de Oro (100cl) - 1980s

100cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

Bacardi Carta de Oro from the 1980s, in a 100cl bottle no less! A rather large and rare antique from over 30 years ago. If you're looking for a way to add something a little different and flavoursome…  More info

Bacardi Carta de Oro (100cl) - 1980s
$149.74

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