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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.

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
2
$67.17

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
$31.97

Bacardi 151 Rum

100cl, 75.5%
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
1
$74.64

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
14
$21.09

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35%
Old J

Based around the vibrant flavours of Persian lime and vanilla paired with classic rum notes, Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink (technically it's not a rum, as its ABV is under 37.5%) goes great over ice…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
2
$18.75

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
1
$19.77

Diplomático Mantuano

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

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

Diplomático Mantuano
$29.05

Morant Bay Spiced Red Rum

70cl, 42%
Morant Bay

Morant Bay is a spiced rum made in copper pot stills and is distilled in the UK (through The English Spirit Distillery). Containing Caribbean molasses, the resultant spirit is then infused using a…  More info

Morant Bay Spiced Red Rum
5
$29.43

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)
$65.42

Captain Morgan Private Stock

100cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

An altogether more premium expression of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum - Captain Morgan Private Stock is produced using high-quality rums and a blend of spices which make this well-suited to enjoying…  More info

Captain Morgan Private Stock
5
$37.60

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
$17.31

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
1
$25.03

Deadhead 6 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Deadhead Rum

Deadhead is a 6 year old rum in a bottle shaped like a shrunken head, known as a Tsantsa, a trophy kept from a defeated enemy. Unique doesn't even cut it, as far as this bottle goes. The rum itself…  More info

Deadhead 6 Year Old Rum
2
$49.61

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
$30.84

Watson's Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.  More info

Watson's Demerara Rum
2
$18.77

Alnwick Rum

70cl, 43%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick is a bold, spicy dark rum, perfect for making a big impression in cocktails and mixed drinks. Based on a recipe which was first created over 90 years ago in Northumberland, Alnwick rum is…  More info

Alnwick Rum
$26.53

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
$93.10

Clarkes Court Black Gold

75cl, 46%
Grenada Distillers

Clarkes Court Black Gold is made by infusing top-quality Grenadian rum with nutmeg, which is a very important and valued spice in Grenada - it even appears on their flag!  More info

Clarkes Court Black Gold
$65.25

Elements 8 Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This tasty spiced rum was launched during the Summer for 2010. Elements 8 combines top quality dark rum with lovely Caribbean spices, as well as fruit and honey. This stuff is aged in bourbon…  More info

Elements 8 Spiced Rum
1
$30.44

Ron Barceló Imperial

70cl, 38%
Ron Barceló

An excellent Dominican rum, Barceló Imperial was awarded a Gold Medal and also the coveted "Best In Category" title at the 2008 International Cane Spirits Festival. This is aged for between 4 and 10…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial
8
$30.92

Doorly's 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

A very tasty Bajan rum, this 5 year old from Doorly's is a balanced spirit, typical of the region, and offers plenty of tropical fruit.  More info

Doorly's 5 Year Old
2
$22.91

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 7 year old rum from Panama made by Varela-Hermanos. Ron Abuelo is made using distillery grown sugar cane and is aged in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old
2
$25.53

Gunroom Navy Rum

50cl, 65%
Gunroom

From the Gunroom Spirit ranges comes a Navy Rum, made with a blends of rums from a number of origins, including Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica and a secret origin too... It's been bottled at a…  More info

Gunroom Navy Rum
1
$35.61

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
$39.06

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)

75cl, 69%
Westerhall

Overproof rum from Grenada-based producers, Westerhall Estate. Their Iron Jack is allowed to age in charred oak casks before being bottled at a generous 69% ABV - you'll want to dilute this well with…  More info

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)
$37.06

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