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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.

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve

70cl, 40%
Zafra

This is the Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve rum, an absolutely ace Panamanian rum which was aged in bourbon barrels for just over two decades. Considering is was blended by a former Maestro Ronero…  More info

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve
1
$74.75

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A 1.5 litre bottling of the one of the world's best-selling spirits! Bacardi was first created in Cuba but moved to Puerto Rico rather than face nationalisation. Thanks to its stint in Cuba, the…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l
$53.28

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
$28.62

XM Supreme 15 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Banks DIH

Guyanese demerara rum aged for 15 years, blended and bottled by Banks DIH.  More info

XM Supreme 15 Year Old Rum
$48.19

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
$39.63

Mount Gay 1703

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

A new and very exciting addition to the Mount Gay range. 1703 celebrates the foundation of the Barbados-based Mount Gay distillery, and it was created by Allen Smith, the master distiller. It…  More info

Mount Gay 1703
10
$123.20

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
$54.73

Ron Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2015

70cl, 45%
Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala

It's the 2015 release of Ron Zacapa's very popular Reserve Limitada rum, blended by Lorena Vasquezusing rums aged between 6 and 24 years old. The casks previous held whisky and Pedro Ximénez before…  More info

Ron Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2015
4
$90.10

Opthimus 25 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

The Opthimus range is a selection of Solera-aged Dominican Republic rums from Oliver & Oliver.  More info

Opthimus 25 Rum
1
$81.08

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

This is the 12 year old expression from Santiago de Cuba's range of rums. A well put-together expression from the Cuban distillers, plenty to enjoy here.  More info

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo
1
$54.30

Ancient Mariner 16 Year Old Navy Rum

50cl, 54%
Ancient Mariner

Daily Tots were issued by the Royal Navy for hundred of years, up until July 1970 when they were removed. Ancient Mariner was made with the rum used by the Royal Navy in mind. To revive the classic…  More info

Ancient Mariner 16 Year Old Navy Rum
2
$45.14

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
13
$21.04

Havana Club Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

Añejo Especial is made from oak aged aguardientes. It is a great everyday Cuban rum, that works well in cocktails.  More info

Havana Club Añejo Especial
6
$20.45

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition

70cl, 47%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

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
8
$35.63

Angostura 1919 Rum

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company, this is a blend of spirit aged for at least eight years in bourbon barrels.  More info

Angostura 1919 Rum
7
$34.15

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old
$26.96

Plantation Jamaica Rum 2001

70cl, 42%
Plantation

2001: A Rum Odyssey. This 2001 vintage Jamaican rum comes from pot stills and had a lengthy maturation before being bottled. Wonderfully spicy and succulent, with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and an…  More info

Plantation Jamaica Rum 2001
$41.15

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

Single cask rum from Cuba, distilled in 2003 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2012. Yum!  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$47.07

Mezan Jamaica Worthy Park 2005

70cl, 40%
Worthy Park

A Mezan bottling of Jamaican rum from the Worthy Park Estate, situated in the Vale of Lluidas. Distilled in 2005 and bottled at 40% ABV for the well-loved Mezan selection of independently bottled…  More info

Mezan Jamaica Worthy Park 2005
$36.40

Pirate's Grog No.13

70cl, 40%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

A single cask, 13 year old rum from Pirate's Grog! The outturn from the American oak cask was 777 beautifully presented bottles.  More info

Pirate's Grog No.13
$66.99

Foursquare 14 Year Old 2001 Bajan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Foursquare

A single cask rum bottling from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range, distilled in 2001 the outturn was 353 bottles.  More info

Foursquare 14 Year Old 2001 Bajan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$61.86

Green Island Superior Light Rum

70cl, 40%
Green Island

A young, light rum from Green Island, a great producer of rum in Mauritius. This is distilled from molasses in a four column still, and the rum in the bottle is aged for between 3 and 5 years in oak.…  More info

Green Island Superior Light Rum
$27.59

Takamaka Bay Spiced Rum

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Bay

A sweet, rich spiced rum from Takamaka Bay, produced in the Seychelles! You'll find plenty of vanilla and caramel notes here, so this is definitely one for those with a bit of a sweet tooth!  More info

Takamaka Bay Spiced Rum
2
$22.43

Bacardi 151 Rum

100cl, 75.50%
Bacardi

Perhaps the world's most famous "151" rum - a rum with an abv of 75.5%, Bacardi's 151 is a sweet, intensely spicy affair and a must-have for various rum-based cocktails.  More info

Bacardi 151 Rum
$82.02

Bellevue 17 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Bellevue

A Compagnie Des Indes bottling of 17 year old rum from the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe. It was distilled in March 1998 and bottled in June 2015, with 298 bottles. These Compagnie Des Indes…  More info

Bellevue 17 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$71.89

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