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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.

Don Q 151°

70cl, 75.5%
Serralles

A blend of aged Puerto Rican rum from Don Q, bottled at 75.5% ABV. Useful for cocktails and mixed drinks when used sparingly.  More info

Don Q 151°
$41.31

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
4
$74.06
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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
$35.55
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Plantation Fiji 2009

70cl, 44.8%
Plantation

A 2009 vintage Fijian rum from the Plantation range, produced by the South Pacific distillery and bottled as part of the Plantation range. It was initially matured in bourbon casks for 7 years before…  More info

Plantation Fiji 2009
$53.04

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Don Papa

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
10
$36.32
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Mezan Belize 2008 (bottled 2018)

70cl, 46%
Mezan

This delightful drop comes from Belize, a country formerly known as British Honduras, on the eastern coastline of Central America sandwiched between Guatemala and Mexico. It's made from molasses from…  More info

Mezan Belize 2008 (bottled 2018)
$52.00

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
$83.21
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Burning Barn Smoked Rum

70cl, 40%
Burning Barn

An intriguingly rich rum which is aptly smoky considering the name of its producers - Burning Barn. They make this expression by cold smoking their rum with local apple wood, imparting obvious…  More info

Burning Barn Smoked Rum
1
$39.77

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2015 - Version Integrale

70cl, 58.4%
Rhum Rhum

The 2015 bottling of the Rhum Rhum Liberation, a rhum agricole produced on the island of Marie Galante. This expression is aged in sweet wine casks - and the Version Integrale edition is bottled at…  More info

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2015 - Version Integrale
$154.79

Keepr's Cotswold Honey Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Keepr's

An intriguing spiced rum teaming with mixed spices and infused with raw, unadulterated honey from the Cotswolds, Oxfordshire. Bottled at 37.5%, this is delicious with good helping of ginger beer!  More info

Keepr's Cotswold Honey Spiced Rum
1
$36.91
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Sunset Captain Bligh XO

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

An XO rum from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is distilled from molasses in a modern two column still, and it is diluted to 87.5% before it is aged in first fill Kentucky bourbon barrels for…  More info

Sunset Captain Bligh XO
3
$33.06
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Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Añejo Gran Reserva is a superb Venezuelan rum aged in oak for up to 5 years. Santa Teresa recommend this in cocktails, and it is notable for its delicious aroma.  More info

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva
2
$25.03
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Morvenna Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
The Cornish Distilling Co.

From The Cornish Distilling Co. comes Morvenna Spiced Rum, which was fermented, distilled and bottled on the brand's site on the coast of North Cornwall. The only use natural spices to give this…  More info

Morvenna Spiced Rum
$38.65

Captain Morgan Original Rum 1.5l

150cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

A very popular dark rum named after the 17th century Welsh sailor, Captain Henry Morgan. It is made with rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. This is the 1.5l magnum version, for all you Captains…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Rum 1.5l
1
$45.17

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
7
$21.41

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Made in Kingston, Jamaica, Appleton Estate Classic White rum is exactly that; a classic white rum. Perfect for mixing, it wouldn't go amiss in a Yellow Submarine or a traditional mojito.  More info

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%
$19.50
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Gosling's Family Reserve

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

The flagship from the Gosling's rage. Family Reserve is made using top quality rums from Bermuda. Each bottle is hand labelled, dipped in wax, packed into boxes, stamped, put in the post box, you'll…  More info

Gosling's Family Reserve
4
$60.78
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Ron de Jeremy Spiced

70cl, 38%
Ron de Jeremy

A spiced variant on the rum created for the self-described "hardest working man in showbiz", Ron Jeremy. Ron de Jeremy Spiced Spiced Drink is made with Caribbean rum and a selection of spices,…  More info

Ron de Jeremy Spiced
$25.50
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O.V.D. Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
O.V.D.

A dark Demerara rum from Guyana. This was aged in oak casks and has a sweet, creamy flavour.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum
16
$23.60
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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
7
$29.12
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Mauritius Dodo Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Mauritius Dodo

A dark rum from Mauritius that was bottled at 40% ABV. It honours the now extinct Dodo which was previously native to the Indian Ocean island nation.  More info

Mauritius Dodo Gold Rum
$49.18

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A 12 year old rum from Barbados-based estate, St Nicholas Abbey! Top stuff from a producer with a long history of rum production and a great reputation. Dig in.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old
$129.28
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Appleton Estate Reserve Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate Reserve no longer carries an 8 year old age statement, but is still an excellent dark rum that offers great value.  More info

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
3
$27.04
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J. Gow Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
J. Gow

A Scottish spiced rum all the way from Orkney! Produced on the tiny Lamb Holm island, J. Gow Spiced Rum is made using a selection of ingredients from around the would, including a pair of botanicals…  More info

J. Gow Spiced Rum
$38.62

Pyrat XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Pyrat

The bottle based on the design of those kept by ship's captains and pirate during the 19th Century. The rums in this blend are aged as much as fifteen years in American oak and French Limousin…  More info

Pyrat XO Rum
20
$42.99
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