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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.

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
1
$39.21
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The Kraken Black Spiced Rum 94 Proof (1L)

100cl, 47%
Kraken

The legendary sea monster, presented at a bumped-up ABV. This is a 1 litre bottling of The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, which has been bottled at 94 proof (47% ABV to us here in the UK). Still has those…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum 94 Proof (1L)
1
$57.29

Facundo Paraiso XA

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A blend of rums up to 23 years old, with a higher proportion of older rums than any others in the Facundo range. Finished in XO Cognac casks it comes in a decanter bottle engraved with the Bacardi…  More info

Facundo Paraiso XA
$282.05

Diplomático Mantuano

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

From the fantastic Diplomático Rum selection, produced in Venezuela, comes their Mantuano expression.  More info

Diplomático Mantuano
1
$32.03

Old Salt Rum

50cl, 42%
English Vodka Company

The Old Salt Rum is one of very few rums to be produced in the United Kingdom and is made from a careful selection of molasses and raw sugar cane in Cambridge.  More info

Old Salt Rum
2
$38.70

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
4
$126.51

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

Made from rums of between 21 and 25 years of age, matured in 45 gallon oak casks, within six degrees of the equator in Guyana. El Dorado 21 was awarded a Gold at the International Rum Festival 2003…  More info

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve
12
$97.08
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NAUD Hidden Loot

70cl, 40%
NAUD

Spiced rum from the folks at NAUD (or the Noble and Unusual Distillery, if you want to call them by their full name, as if you were addressing a teacher or some sort of royal bumblebee - bumblebees…  More info

NAUD Hidden Loot
1
$32.01

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition

70cl, 47%
Ron de Jeremy

Created for the self-described "hardest working man in showbiz", this is a spiced variant on the superb Ron de Jeremy. It's a Panama rum, flavoured with vanilla and various exotic spices, and…  More info

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition
7
$35.88
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Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

From the producers of Santiago de Cuba comes a treasure chest full of Cuban rum! The rum itself isn't just sloshing around in the chest - it comes presented in a vintage-looking ceramic decanter.  More info

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro
$524.34

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

An indulgent 15 year old rum from Ron Mulata, produced in Cuba, exclusively making use of their top quality Cuban cane syrup. It has been aged in 180 litre oak casks, which the distillers say give it…  More info

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo
4
$49.72
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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
3
$42.95
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Spytail Black Ginger Rum

70cl, 40%
Spytail

Spytail Black Ginger Rum is made in France using a blend of Caribbean rum aged in barrels with a selection of spices, most notably ginger (inspired by a 19th century recipe).  More info

Spytail Black Ginger Rum
3
$29.12
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Rhum Rhum Liberation 2017

70cl, 45%
Rhum Rhum

This is the 2017 Rhum Rhum Liberation - another release from the stunning range of rhum agricole produced on the island of Marie-Galante. This year it features some sort of bird of prey on the label.…  More info

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2017
$124.97
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Rum-Bar Overproof

70cl, 63%
Worthy Park

A blend of three unaged pot still Jamaican rums, this release from Worthy Park Estate is made is 100% Pot Still distilled rum and, unlike other Jamaican rums, it was not created using Dunder pits.…  More info

Rum-Bar Overproof
$36.45

Caroni 23 Year Old 1994

70cl, 57.2%
Caroni

Long-aged rum from the Trinidad-based distillery, Caroni, bottled by Velier. this was distilled in 1994 and left to mature for an impressive 23 years before being bottled in 2017 at 57.2% ABV.…  More info

Caroni 23 Year Old 1994
$304.18

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Spices

70cl, 40%
Bombo

From the Bombo Rum range made in Cornwall, bottled at 40% ABV and flavoured with caramel and a secret combination of tropical spices. Also, got a particularly angry looking skull on it, as opposed to…  More info

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Spices
5
$28.91
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Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum

70cl, 57%
Smith and Cross

A Navy Strength edition of the classic Smith and Cross Jamaica rum, this stuff is beautiful for sipping neat, and works tremendously well with a couple of ice cubes and a squeeze of lime juice.  More info

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum
6
$39.86
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Brugal Añejo

70cl, 38%
Brugal

Brugal Anejo is a 5 year old Dominican rum. The company was founded by Andrés Brugal Montaner. The majority of the board members are actually descendants of Montaner.  More info

Brugal Añejo
12
$22.62
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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
8
$39.31
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Plantation O.F.T.D.

70cl, 69%
Plantation

A rather marvellous overproof dark rum from the Plantation range. Their O.F.T.D. (which stands for 'Old Fashioned Traditional Dark') is comprised of a blend of rums distilled in Barbados, Jamaica and…  More info

Plantation O.F.T.D.
4
$43.42
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Cut Smoked Rum

70cl, 40%
Cut Rum

Powerfully smoky rum from the Cut Rum range. Made with a base of Jamaican rum and smoked using oak chips, this will stand out in cocktails and might make for an intriguing alternative postprandial…  More info

Cut Smoked Rum
$28.54
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Diplomático Ambassador

70cl, 47%
Diplomático

Diplomatico's flagship, the Ambassador was created by Tito Cordero, Golden Barrel Award's 2011 Master Rum Blender of the Year. Expect huge juicy sweetness and flavour thanks to its maturation in…  More info

Diplomático Ambassador
2
$219.67
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Myers's Rum

70cl, 40%
Myers's Rum

A dark rum that works well in cocktails, Myer's Rum is a Jamaican rum named after Fred L Myers who created that brand in 1879. It is a blend of 9 different rums.  More info

Myers's Rum
7
$22.95
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Santiago de Cuba 25 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

One of the oldest rums from that Santiago de Cuba range, the 25 year old expression is very impressive indeed. In with introduced to the range in 2005 in honour of the 490th anniversary of the city…  More info

Santiago de Cuba 25 Year Old Extra Añejo
3
$276.47
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