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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.

Santa Teresa 1796

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A superb single estate Venezuelan rum, Santa Teresa 1796 is made using the solera method (used more famously in the production of Spanish sherry). The rums in the blend are aged for between five and…  More info

Santa Teresa 1796
25
$51.99
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Worthy Park 109

100cl, 54.5%
Worthy Park

A marvellous Jamaican rum from Worthy Park, copper pot distilled from estate-grown sugar cane molasses. The rum spends a short stay in American oak and ex-bourbon casks, before blending and bottling…  More info

Worthy Park 109
1
$38.75

Signature Blend #1 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

70cl, 42%
That Boutique-y Rum Company

The first release from That Boutique-y Rum Company's Signature Blend range is here! Unlike the limited edition releases that make up most of That Boutique-y Rum Company's selection, these expression…  More info

Signature Blend #1 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$27.01
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Uitvlugt 22 Year Old 1999 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 52%
Uitvlugt

A glorious cask strength rum from the long-closed Uitvlugt Distillery in Guyana, bottled up by Hunter Laing for the Kill Devil series. Distilled in 1999, this expression spent 22 years maturing in a…  More info

Uitvlugt 22 Year Old 1999 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$199.94

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
10
$20.03

Discarded Banana Peel Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Discarded Spirits

The team from Discarded Spirits specialises is using ingredients that would otherwise go to waste to create lip-smacking spirits, like its Banana Peel Rum! It features a base of Caribbean rum which…  More info

Discarded Banana Peel Rum
10
$29.14

Copeland Smugglers Reserve Rum

70cl, 40%
Copeland

From the Copeland folks in Ireland comes this aged rum! It blends together Barbados rum (aged in bourbon barrels) with rum distilled in Donaghadee, where the distillery is based, which was aged in a…  More info

Copeland Smugglers Reserve Rum
5
$31.17

Pull The Pin Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Pull The Pin

Co-founder Tom left the army in pursuit of the perfect spiced rum, and so Pull the Pin was born! To create it, a range of spices is infused as well as butterscotch, making for a warming, sweet and…  More info

Pull The Pin Spiced Rum
23
$36.38

Chairman's Reserve Finest St Lucia Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Chairman's Reserve is a St Lucian Rum blended from pot still and continuous still rums.  More info

Chairman's Reserve Finest St Lucia Rum
9
$25.96
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Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Gift Pack with 2x Rum Old Fashioned Glasses

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A rather zazzy gift pack from Diplomático, featuring a bottle of the excellent Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Venezuelan rum, alongside a pair of glasses - perfect for serving a tasty Rum Old…  More info

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Gift Pack with 2x Rum Old Fashioned Glasses
1
$51.98

A.H. Riise Black Barrel Navy Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
A. H. Riise

This premium Navy Spiced Rum was distilled by A.H. Riise and infused with a blend of carefully selected secret spices that was then matured for a long time in charred oak cask - hence Black Barrel.  More info

A.H. Riise Black Barrel Navy Spiced Rum
$39.50

Plantation Jamaica 2007

70cl, 48.4%
Plantation

A 2007 vintage Jamaican rum here released by Plantation. This particular expression was distilled at the Clarendon Distillery, and matured in Jamaica for 13 years before being moved over to France…  More info

Plantation Jamaica 2007
1
$67.64
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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
13
$29.65

Sixtowns Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Sixtowns

The Sixtowns team is back with another excellent spirit – this time it's a spiced rum! Featuring a secret blend of spices, this expression will be marvellous served over ice, or in mixed drinks. We…  More info

Sixtowns Spiced Rum
$41.57

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
8
$33.04

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.
7
$38.76
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Labourdonnais 5 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 49.8%
Labourdonnais

An independent bottling of 5 year old Mauritian rum produced by the Labourdonnais distillery using a traditional column still. It was bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company and bestowed a handsome…  More info

Labourdonnais 5 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
3
$54.06

Langs Banana Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Langs

Back in the late 1800s, Langs Banana Rum was first released. At some point between then and now, it disappeared from shelves. This is not where the story ends, however, as that would be incredibly…  More info

Langs Banana Rum
9
$21.33
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Jack Ratt Lugger Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Lyme Bay Winery

Jack Ratt Spiced Rum is produced by the fine folks at Lyme Bay Winery in Devon, made with Caribbean rum aged in bourbon barrels and spiced with nutmeg, orange peel, clove and vanilla. The name comes…  More info

Jack Ratt Lugger Spiced Rum
15
$36.89

Gosling's Papa Seal

70cl, 41.5%
Gosling's Rum

Gosling's has gone and bottled up some single barrel Bermuda rum! Dubbed Papa Seal, these expressions from Gosling's are made with rums distilled in both pot and column stills, and matured in…  More info

Gosling's Papa Seal
1
$134.25

Flor de Caña 25

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

An impressive, well aged Flor de Caña single estate rum. A stunning, radiant hue makes it a wonder to look at, and it tastes as good as it looks. Top shelf rum from the Nicaraguan producer.  More info

Flor de Caña 25
9
$118.63

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
6
$48.87

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
22
$40

Bacardi 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A marvellous 8 year old rum from the Bacardi range, more than suitable for sipping neat, but also incredibly good for using in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Bacardi 8 Year Old
28
$31.17

Horizon Black [Hole] Spiced Rum

70cl, 42%
Horizon

Is there anything on the other side of a black hole, or are they just galactic alligators gobbling up anything that dares come near them? You may think that question is a bit much for a spirits…  More info

Horizon Black [Hole] Spiced Rum
6
$25.96
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