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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.

Caroni 15 Year Old Rum

70cl, 52%
Caroni

15 year old Trinidadian rum from Caroni, bottled by Velier.  More info

Caroni 15 Year Old Rum
$74.64

Presidente Marti 15

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, resulting in a well-oaked though pleasantly sweet tipple. It's made by Dominican…  More info

Presidente Marti 15
2
$40.47

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002

70cl, 63%
El Dorado

The El Dorado Rare Collection gives light to three of Guyana's most well-loved rum distilleries - Port Mourant, Enmore and Versailles. This one comes from the single wooden pot still of Versailles,…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002
$173.00

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
$33.25

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron 1l

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A Travel Retail bottling of Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron, a made with rum aged up to three years and slow filtered through coconut shell charcoal. The label calls it a "sipping rum", and it is…  More info

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron 1l
$43.43

Mount Gay Extra Old

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

A full bodied rum from Barbados, very enjoyable. This was awarded its 5th Gran Gold award at the Monde Selection in Brussels, as well as a trophy at the 2001 International Spirits Challenge in…  More info

Mount Gay Extra Old
26
$38.26

Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Casks

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Sit down, gentle reader, and we shall tell you a tale. On the 2nd May 2007 a great fire ravaged St Lucia Distillers distillery, destroying much of the storage buildings. "Good heavens!" You might…  More info

Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Casks
2
$35.51

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
$37.74

Ron de Jeremy XO

70cl, 40%
Ron de Jeremy

The Ron de Jeremy range of rums continues to grow. Ron de Jeremy XO is made using a blend of well-aged pot and column distilled rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, matured in American bourbon…  More info

Ron de Jeremy XO
$43.13

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
$46.08

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum

70cl, 75.50%
Old J

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

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum
1
$38.89

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof

70cl, 63%
J Wray and Nephew

The best-selling high proof rum in the world. 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are of Wray and Nephew. Overproof is a very potent spirit indeed!  More info

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof
41
$27.50

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

75cl, 49.50%
Smooth Ambler

A marvellously impressive rum released by the chaps at Smooth Ambler out in West Virginia, USA. They've got a good nose for great spirits (as obvious from their Old Scout whiskey), and have bottled…  More info

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum
3
$81.07

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum

70cl, 40%
Kikusui Shuzo

When you think of rum, what's the first country that comes to mind? That's right, Japan! Well that's exactly where this Ryoma 7 year old rum is from. The sugarcane used to make the Ryoma is grown by…  More info

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum
4
$59.43

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
$37.13

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
4
$39.16

Plantation Original Dark Overproof

70cl, 73%
Plantation

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

Plantation Original Dark Overproof
1
$38.43

Mount Gay Eclipse

70cl, 40%
Mount Gay

Distilled in Barbados, this expression from Mount Gay was named for the 'double phenomenon' of a total solar eclipse and the passage of Halley's comet in 1910.  More info

Mount Gay Eclipse
13
$20.77

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
$57.68

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

An añejo Cuban rum and a silver medal winner at the 1996 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. This 3 year old Havana Club is a key part of good, refreshing daiquiri.  More info

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old
6
$20.33

Ron Cartavio XO

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

Very old rum from Peruvian distillers Ron Cartavio. You may not have heard of Peruvian rum before, but this might be just the introduction you're looking for. The Ron Cartavio XO is matured in…  More info

Ron Cartavio XO
6
$72.42

Pyrat XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Pyrat

The bottle based on the design of those kept by ship's captains and pirate during the 19th Century. The rums in this blend are aged as much as fifteen years in American oak and French Limousin…  More info

Pyrat XO Rum
17
$41.20

Ron Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Riserva

70cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

This spirit from Ron Millonario is a beautifully packaged solera-aged rum from Peru. Distilled in column stills, it comes packaged in a woven-covered bottle and it was awarded a Gold Medal at the…  More info

Ron Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Riserva
7
$46.22

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
$44.96

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra 1l

100cl, 43%
Ron Zacapa

A 1 litre bottling of Ron Zacapa's Edición Negra, which was originally released for the Travel Retail market. This has been aged in double charred American oak barrels, resulting in smoky elements…  More info

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra 1l
$102.82

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