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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, 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.

Kirk & Sweeney 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Kirk & Sweeney

A marvellous 12 year old rum from the Dominican Republic, aged in American oak casks. A gorgeous bottle, and a rum to match its gorgeousness.  More info

Kirk & Sweeney 12 Year Old
6
$39.53

Admiral Rodney Extra Old

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

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…  More info

Admiral Rodney Extra Old
4
$55.12
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Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum

70cl, 57%
Wood's

Wood's is made from the finest sugar cane and distilled in Guyana, South America. Bottled at 57% abv, it is one of the highest percentage volume dark rums out there right now, at least at this…  More info

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum
43
$28.30
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Mount Gay Black Barrel

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

Released in the UK in 2014, the Mount Gay Black Barrel rum is made from single column and double pot distilled rum, though using a higher proportion of double pot distillates than their other…  More info

Mount Gay Black Barrel
16
$34.99

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
14
$106.81
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Havana Club Tributo 2018

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

The third bottling in Havana Club's Tributo range sees some very well-aged Cuban rum given some additional maturation time in casks that previously held peaty Scotch whisky! Thought to be a first for…  More info

Havana Club Tributo 2018
$380.83

Rum Advent Calendar (2018 Edition)

72cl, 42.5%
Drinks by the Dram

Estimated despatch 15th October Light up those dark winter days with reams of radiant rum thanks to Drinks by the Dram’s Rum Advent Calendar! Some of the tastiest tipples from around the world…  More info

Rum Advent Calendar (2018 Edition)
$165.86

Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Cloven Hoof

Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum is made using a tasty blend of Guyanese and Trinidadian rum, along with a selection of spices, including cassia, anise and clove, hence the name - a nice touch (you know what…  More info

Cloven Hoof Spiced Rum
11
$31.91
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Snakepit Venom Rum

70cl, 65%
Snakepit

A high-strength spiced rum from North West Spirits, made with a blend of aged Caribbean rums blended with a selection of secret spices. Ought to be able to make quite an impression in your mixed…  More info

Snakepit Venom Rum
1
$58.60

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

St Aubin Agricole Rhum Vanilla is a delicious, laid back rum combined with vanilla grown on the St Aubin plantations in Mauritius. The sugary addition from the vanilla makes this an excellent rum for…  More info

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla
1
$30.58
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Pink Pigeon Original

70cl, 40%
Pink Pigeon

A fabulous rum from Mauritius, flavoured with vanilla and spices including nutmeg. It was named for the Pink Pigeon, a bird that is native to the island and recently climbed from critically…  More info

Pink Pigeon Original
10
$28.46
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El Dorado 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A great 12 year old Demerara rum from El Dorado. This has won golds at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test in London 7 times in the first 10 years! There are nine stills at the distillery, and this is based…  More info

El Dorado 12 Year Old
20
$41.29
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Drum & Black Spiced Rum

50cl, 42%
Drum & Black

Drum & Black Spiced Rum is based around a triple-distilled spirit, complemented by ingredients from around the world. This includes coffee from Kenya, vanilla and cinnamon from India, orange from…  More info

Drum & Black Spiced Rum
8
$40.87

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum

70cl, 40%
J Wray and Nephew

Blackwell Black Gold Rum was created by Chris Blackwell, who also happens to be the owner of Island Records. The dark rum itself is distilled and blended by J. Wray & Nephew in Jamaica. It was made…  More info

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum
3
$23.17
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English Harbour 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

English Harbour is a rum from Antigua. This 5 year old was a Double Gold winner at the 2005 San Francisco Competition.  More info

English Harbour 5 Year Old
2
$28.15
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Plantation Barbados 2002

70cl, 43.2%
Plantation

2002 vintage rum from Barbados, bottled for the brilliant Plantation range. This began its maturation in bourbon casks, before being transferred over to Cognac casks for a two year finishing period.  More info

Plantation Barbados 2002
$48.26
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Pirate's Grog Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

This ship-shape sight is Pirate's Grog Rum, made from a blend of Caribbean rums which are aged in bourbon barrels for 3 to 5 years on the island of Roatán. Sweet with vanilla and brown sugars, this…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum
8
$32.01
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Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve

70cl, 40%
Plantation

This is a 5 year old Barbados rum from the Plantation range, aged in bourbon barrels before being transported to Cognac Ferrand in France for a finish in Cognac casks! Very good indeed...  More info

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve
6
$32.23
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Neptune Rum

70cl, 40%
Neptune Rum

By Neptune's beard - it's Neptune Rum! This is a 3 year old rum from the island of Barbados, perfect for enjoying over ice or with your favourite mixer. The name also also definitely a reference to…  More info

Neptune Rum
15
$38.65

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

An award winning rum; this took a silver at the 2006 and 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competitions. This also attained a Gold at the International Review of Spirits. A great mixing rum, very…  More info

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum
4
$25.39
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Plantation Original Dark Double Aged

70cl, 40%
Plantation

The Original Dark expression from Plantation has had a little bit of a revamp! It's now made with aged rum from Trinidad and Jamaica, which then blended together and aged further in Cognac casks,…  More info

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged
2
$25.60
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Gosling's Black Seal

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

A much rated rum from Bermuda. This was rated 96 out of 100 at the World Spirits Championship. It is named for the black sealing wax used to seal the stopper in place.  More info

Gosling's Black Seal
16
$26.92
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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
6
$61.67
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Stroh Inländer 80 50cl

50cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

Stroh 80 is an intense, fiery spiced rum from Austria, made with all kinds of spice extracts and essences. It is worth trying in warming hot chocolates, or in spicy cocktails such as the Jagertee.  More info

Stroh Inländer 80 50cl
6
$32.29
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Penny Blue VSOP

70cl, 40%
Penny Blue

The smashing VSOP single estate rum produced at the Medine distillery on the west coast of Mauritius for the Penny Blue range is an excellent value-for-money dark rum suitable for enjoying in…  More info

Penny Blue VSOP
$27.94
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