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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. 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.

Rum

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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
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To create this expression, Plantation use multiple vintages of Trinidad rum and finish them in France using Cognac and Banyuls casks. 150 bottles were produced.  More info
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1986 vintage rum from the Rockley Still in Barbados, which has been bottled in 2012 by UK independent bottler, Bristol Spirits. Interestingly, this one has been treated to an Oloroso Sherry cask...  More info
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Havana Club Añejo Blanco
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Añejo Blanco is a splendid mixing rum. The spirit was aged for 18 months in 180 litre barrels. Described by Havana Club's Primer Maestro Romero, Don José Navarro, as "The whitest of all aged rums, the...  More info
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Legendario Ron Dorado
(70cl, 38%)
Great for cocktails and mixed drinks, Legendario's Ron Dorado is a subtly sweet, seductive Cuban rum. Should make for a good Palmetto, we reckon.  More info
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A staggering overproof rum sourced from Trinidad and created by the Cognac Ferrand estate. This stuff is bottled at 73% abv and is aged in young bourbon casks before bottling.  More info
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Dzama XV 15 Year Old
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Very well aged Madagascan rum from the Dzama range made by Vidzar, the Dzama XV spends 15 years patiently maturing in oak casks before it's bottled. Great notes of vanilla, dark fruits and rich oak...  More info
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A 1998 vintage Caroni rum, bottled in 2013 by Bristol Spirits. The Caroni distillery was once one of the many distilleries in Trinidad, though it was closed in 2002 and only one distillery remains.  More info
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Sailor Jerry
(70cl, 40%)
A spiced rum created by the famed tattoo artist 'Sailor Jerry' Collins. This is perhaps our favourite spiced rum, makes an incredible spiced mojito! The recipe was recently changed, and made slightly...  More info
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$24.23
Independently bottled, single barrel, cask strength rum! Cor, what a treat! This comes from the Caroni distillery in Trinidad and was aged in a single bourbon barrel from 1999 to 2014. It was bottled...  More info
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$107.37
Vat 19 Golden Rum 150cl
(150cl, 37.50%)
A big ol' bottle of Vat 19 Golden Rum, which is distilled in Trinidad and is perfect for use in cocktails. This bottle holds 150cl of the bright, fruit-forward rum.  More info
$48.11
This is a Velier bottling of rum from the Coffey stills of the Diamond distillery and the double wooden pot still from the Port Mourant estate. These rums were distilled in 1999 and blended in the...  More info
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An 18 year old Uitvlugt rum, produced using the French Savalle Still at the legendary Guyanese distiilery. It was distilled in 1996 and bottled in July 2014 at 57.2% ABV, with 1,124 bottles-worth of...  More info
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Well would you look at this - an old bottling of Pusser's Blue Label Navy Rum, from back when their Blue Label expression was bottled at 54.5% ABV. These days their 54.5% ABV rum is the 'Gunpowder...  More info
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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
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This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info
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Guyanese rum from from the Uitvlugt distillery, matured for 16 years before being bottled by WM Cadenhead. It was bottled at cask strength - a robust 60.2% ABV - so expect an intense flavour profile.  More info
$83.75
12 year old pot still rum from the Hampden distillery in Jamaica. This interesting rum was distilled in 2002, bottled in 2014 by one of Scotland's oldest bottlers, W.M. Cadenhead, and has been...  More info
$58.84
This is a delicious Guyana rum from Banks DIH, made by ageing spirit in bourbon casks for at least a decade. The rum is then finished in sherry casks for six months before bottling.  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$47.28
A special edition rum from St Lucia Distillers, named after the year that the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. In 1972, the Dennery Distillery merged with another to form St. Lucia...  More info
$72.29
Originally launched during the 1960s, column stills are now used prior to a 15 year maturation in Limousin white oak barrels.  More info
User Rating:  (3 Reviews)
$63.77
This St Lucian rum is matured in ex-bourbon casks, and is famed for its smoothness. The rum is named after
Georges Brydges Rodney, a British naval officer, famous for his tactical acumen, who fought...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$55.19
This Rhum J.M Multimillesime is a rhum agricole comprised of spirits from a trio of vintages - 2003, 2004 and 2005. Not only did they choose vintages that come pleasingly one after the other (love a...  More info
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