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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.

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

Deep, intense rum from Venezuelan producer Pampero. Superb sipping rum.  More info

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial
4
$25.08

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

A 7 year old Cuban rum, awarded gold medals at the Chicago World Spirits Championship in both 1995 and 1997. This was "añejo" the first Havana Club expression intended for sipping. Also makes a…  More info

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old
19
$28.91

Clément Première Canne Rhum

70cl, 40%
Clement

The Clément Première Canne Rhum is made on the East coast of Martinique. It is a blanc Agricole Rhum, made with fresh pressed sugarcane from Habitation Clément which is then distilled and left to…  More info

Clément Première Canne Rhum
$31.73

Dzama XV 15 Year Old

70cl, 45%
Compagnie Vidzar

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

Dzama XV 15 Year Old
$325.44

Caroni 1998 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Caroni

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

Caroni 1998 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits
$52.26

Takamaka Bay St André 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Takamaka Bay

Distilled in the sunny Seychelles, Takamaka Bay rum is brainchild of two brothers, Richard and Bernard d’Offay. The distillery was opened in 2002 to make rum according to their grandfather's recipe.…  More info

Takamaka Bay St André  8 Year Old Rum
$48.79

Travellers Distillery 9 Year Old - Cask Strength (WM Cadenhead)

70cl, 64.60%
Travellers Distillery

Bottled in 2015 by Cadenhead's this is a 9 year old straight from the cask Belize rum from the Travellers Liquors distillery (bonded in 2005).  More info

Travellers Distillery 9 Year Old - Cask Strength (WM Cadenhead)
$58.41

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

Long-aged Cuban rum - yum yum yum... This is the 20 year old expression from the Santiago de Cuba range, named after the second largest city in Cuba. Not often seen on these shores, but very…  More info

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo
$150.62

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 7 year old rum from Panama made by Varela-Hermanos. Ron Abuelo is made using distillery grown sugar cane and is aged in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old
3
$30.63

Diplomatico Single Vintage 2000

70cl, 43%
Diplomático

After a fantastic sugarcane harvest in the year 2000 in Venezuela, this rum seemed destined for greatness. Indeed, this particular batch was treated rather well, being aged in the best single malt…  More info

Diplomatico Single Vintage 2000
4
$114.44

Clément Blanc Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
Clement

An unaged rhum agricole produced by Martinque in Clément. Intense, herbal and works well in cocktails.  More info

Clément Blanc Rhum Agricole
$34.35

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2015) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

A 2003 vintage rum from the Sancti Spiritus distillery in Cuba, bottled in 2015 for the Bristol Spirits range - a neat connection between South West England and the Latin America country.  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2015) - Bristol Spirits
$44.26

Pyrat Rum Cask 1623

75cl, 40%
Pyrat

Distilled on Anguilla, this is a very limited release rum, matured in oak for as much as 40 years! The decanter is made of hand-blown glass, and it comes in a handmade walnut case.  More info

Pyrat Rum Cask 1623
$272.01

Botran Solera 1893

70cl, 40%
Botran

A beautiful dark rum from Guatemala. Botran Solera 1893 is aged for around 5 to 18 years using the Solera method in casks that previously held sherry, port and bourbon. The rum itself is distilled…  More info

Botran Solera 1893
$54.68

Pusser's Blue Label (Old Bottling)

70cl, 54.50%
Pusser's

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

Pusser's Blue Label (Old Bottling)
$39.59

XM VXO Rum 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Banks

7 year old Guyanan rum, VXO offers incredible flavours of winter spice, chocolate and tropical fruit.  More info

XM VXO Rum 7 Year Old
2
$31.47

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
$48.30

South Pacific Distillery 10 Year Old 2003 (cask 7) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 53.80%
South Pacific Distillery

A Duncan Taylor bottling of 10 year old rum, produced by the South Pacific Distillery in Fiji. This rum was distilled back in April 2003 and matured in a bourbon barrel for a decade, until it was…  More info

South Pacific Distillery 10 Year Old 2003 (cask 7) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$51.02

Bellevue 17 Year Old - Cask Strength (WM Cadenhead)

70cl, 54.30%
Bellevue

A 17 year old rum produced at the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe, bottled at cask strength by one of Scotland's oldest independent bottlers, WM Cadenhead. This weighs in at a generous 54.3% ABV,…  More info

Bellevue 17 Year Old - Cask Strength (WM Cadenhead)
$77.25

Ron Varadero Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Cuba Ron

Ron Varadero Añejo is a well aged Cuban rum, matured for at least 7 years before bottling. Relaxed and flavoursome.  More info

Ron Varadero Añejo 7 Year Old
$28.09

Caroni 17 Year Old 1997 (cask 883) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 52.30%
Caroni

17 year old rum from the Caroni Distillery in Trinidad, independently bottled by the folks at Duncan Taylor. Sadly, the Caroni Distillery shut its doors for the final time back in 2002, though rum…  More info

Caroni 17 Year Old 1997 (cask 883) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$62.38

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick's is an old rum brand dating from 1914 with this spiced release using rums from the Caribbean, mixed spices, citrus, and other exotic fruit.  More info

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum
$36.24

Bacardi Black

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A lovely dark rum, now bottled at 40% (as opposed to 37.5%), from stalwart producers Bacardi. This is rich, full and spicy and works brilliantly in a variety of cocktails…  More info

Bacardi Black
$35.60

Presidente Marti 15 Years Old

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

A rather classy rum from the Dominican Republic, created in the style of Cuban rum. It was matured in a Solera for 15 years before bottling, which has resulted in a well-oaked though pleasantly sweet…  More info

Presidente Marti 15 Years Old
1
$45.24

Ron Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2014

70cl, 45%
Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala

A limited edition release from the Ron Zacapa range, made with a blend of Guatemalan rums aged between 6 to 24 years. Interestingly, the casks used for this release spent two years maturing in a herb…  More info

Ron Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2014
2
$99.07

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