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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.

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A top quality 12 year old rum from the Nicaraguan producer, Flor de Caña. This is fine sipping rum, with flavours like toffee apple and buttery vanilla. We love it.  More info

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old
4
$37.72

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Bleeding Heart Rum Co

A richly flavoursome rum from the Philippines, inspired by the story of Papa Isio, who played a big part in the late-19th century Philippine revolution. The rum itself is made using sugar cane grown…  More info

Don Papa Small Batch Rum
6
$34.89

Foursquare 2013 - Habitation Velier

70cl, 64%
Foursquare

Another release from the Habitation Velier range, which is a series of rums with a focus around the distillation which goes into creating the spirit. This one comes from the Foursquare distillery in…  More info

Foursquare 2013 - Habitation Velier
$91.73

Mount Gay Origin Series Vol. 2 - The Copper Stills

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

The second release in Mount Gay's Origin Series looks at how the distillation of their rum can impact its flavour profile. Their expressions are made using a blend of rum distilled in copper pot…  More info

Mount Gay Origin Series Vol. 2 - The Copper Stills
$68.34

Watson's Trawler Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

Navy style dark rum made using spirit from Barbados and Guyana, aged in their countries of origin.  More info

Watson's Trawler Rum
$18.62

Rebellion Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

A beautiful Trinidadian rum from a distillery founded in 1824. The producers recommend Rebellion Spiced be served long with cola and ice (and a squeeze of fresh lime juice).  More info

Rebellion Spiced Rum
2
$20.77

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Zacapa

The stunning special release from Zacapa. This Guatemalan classic won Gold at the International Rum Festival, and won the Platinum award in the Super-Premium category in 2002. This is an incredible…  More info

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial
12
$95.26

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
4
$20.76

Uitvlugt 23 Year Old 1993 - Bonpland

50cl, 45%
Uitvlugt

An independent bottling for very well-aged Guyanese rum from the Uitvlugt distillery, which has interestingly been finished in German wine casks! This comes to us via German indie bottler Bonpland,…  More info

Uitvlugt 23 Year Old 1993 - Bonpland
$293.08

Skipper Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Skipper

A delicious dark rum distilled in Guyana, Skipper was launched in 1930 and it still has the same label! A rich, thick spirit which works brilliantly well in cocktails, or with cola and a squeeze of…  More info

Skipper Demerara Rum
3
$20.86

Diamond 12 Year Old 2004 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 62.7%
Diamond Distillery

A single cask bottling of 12 year old Guyanese rum from the Diamond distillery, bottled at cask strength by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil range.  More info

Diamond 12 Year Old 2004 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$80.98

Ron de Jeremy

70cl, 40%
Ron de Jeremy

For those of you aren’t familiar with his work, Ron Jeremy is a long-standing leading man in some of the more #ahem# ‘artistic’ films in the gentleman’s section of your local video store. Ron…  More info

Ron de Jeremy
25
$34.40

St Nicholas Abbey 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

18 year old rum from Barbados, produced as part of the St. Nicholas Abbey range - the Abbey itself has a long tradition of rum production, and they favour traditional methods of distillation when…  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 18 Year Old
$210.22

Foursquare Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
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
$26.35

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel

70cl, 40%
Clément

To achieve the depth of flavour and wonderful mouth-feel for their Select Barrel Rhum Vieux Agricole, the Clément distillers in Martinique choose only the finest casks to create the expression with.…  More info

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel
$37.15

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A great Nicaraguan rum from Flor de Caña. This 7 year old is great as a mixing rum, and it makes a fantastic cocktail. It is aged in 180 litre white oak barrels, which are only used once before…  More info

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old
4
$25.85

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum

35cl, 45%
Sweetdram

A cracking collaborative effort between East London-based distilling collective Sweetdram and the East London Liquor Company! This is made with a base of Demerara rum, which is combined with a…  More info

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum
$25.52

Chairman's Reserve Finest St Lucia Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Chairman's Reserve is a St Lucian Rum blended from pot still and continuous still rums.  More info

Chairman's Reserve Finest St Lucia Rum
6
$24.42

Long Pond Distillery 15 Year Old 2000 (cask 65) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 51.9%
Long Pond Distillery

A single cask independent bottling of rum from the Long Pond distillery in Jamaica, famous for being where the much-loved Captain Morgan brand was established. This was distilled in 2000 and matured…  More info

Long Pond Distillery 15 Year Old 2000 (cask 65) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$73.29

Ron Abuelo Centuria

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A rare rum blend made in Panama, Ron Abuelo Centuria is aged in Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels in the solera method. Some of the rums are as old as 30 years, and the flavour is astonishingly rich and…  More info

Ron Abuelo Centuria
5
$132.48

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

Panamanian rum from Rum Nation. Not Zombie Nation. That's something different.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old
$100.16

Santa Teresa Linaje

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An Extra Añejo Gran Reserva rum from Venezuelan producer Santa Teresa. Enjoy neat or is perfect over ice with mineral water or soda.  More info

Santa Teresa Linaje
1
$28.02

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Coconut

70cl, 40%
Bombo

A spiced rum from the Bombo range, flavoured with coconut and caramel along fruity rum. Should be good over ice or with your favourite mixer, or alongside a sweet dessert.  More info

Bombo 40 Rum -  Caramel & Coconut
$26.92

Blue Mauritius Gold

70cl, 40%
Stanford Cove

Blue and gold, two colours that generally don't go together, but in Mauritius they go hand in hand. Blue seas and gold sands, they're a perfect match. Also, the Blue Mauritius Gold, a gorgeous rum…  More info

Blue Mauritius Gold
1
$53.59

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 12 year old dark rum from Ron Abuelo of Panama. They age their rum in whiskey barrels, which adds a distinct vanilla sweetnses. This 12 year old was launched in 2009, and is elegant, slightly smoky…  More info

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old
7
$35.43

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