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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.

Appleton Estate Signature Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Formerly known as V/X and no longer carrying an age statement, Appleton's signature blend has been aptly renamed Signature Blend. A blend of rums matured in smaller barrels before being married in…  More info

Appleton Estate Signature Blend
$22.10

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
$28.96

XM Royal 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Banks DIH

This is a delicious Guyana rum from Banks DIH, made by ageing spirit in bourbon casks for at least a decade. The rum is then finished in sherry casks for six months before bottling.  More info

XM Royal 10 Year Old
2
$37.62

Kirk & Sweeney 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Kirk & Sweeney

A rather brilliant 18 year old rum from an undisclosed Dominican distillery, bottled as part of the Kirk & Sweeney range. Surely this will be a treat for enjoying over a few ice cubes (or perhaps a…  More info

Kirk & Sweeney 18 Year Old
$49.82

Plantation Barbados 2002

70cl, 43.2%
Plantation

2002 vintage rum from Barbados, bottled for the brilliant Plantation range. This began its maturation in bourbon casks, before being transferred over to Cognac casks for a two year finishing period.  More info

Plantation Barbados 2002
$48.35

El Dorado 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A more recent part of the El Dorado range, this is aged in bourbon barrels and offers a heavier body than the 5 year old, but still not as heavy as the 12 and 15, making this a great mixing rum,…  More info

El Dorado 8 Year Old
1
$33.06

Jamaica Cove Black Ginger Rum

70cl, 40%
Jamaica Cove

Jamaica Cove Black Ginger Rum is made using a blend of Jamaican rums as well as ginger and other select botanicals.  More info

Jamaica Cove Black Ginger Rum
$29.48

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
$39.28

Premium Rum Tasting Set

15cl, 41.8%
Drinks by the Dram

It's not just whisky, we do love other spirits too, and rum will always hold a special place in our hearts. Rum is like liquid sunshine, and we put together this set of five 3cl samples of utterly…  More info

Premium Rum Tasting Set
5
$35.40

Saint James XO

70cl, 43%
Saint James

A well-matured rhum agricole from Marinique-based distillers, Saint James - a brand that goes back all the way to 1882! Impressive stuff, showing off a great balance between rhum agricole vibrancy…  More info

Saint James XO
$47.76

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick's is an old rum brand dating from 1914 with this spiced release using rums from the Caribbean, mixed spices, citrus, and other exotic fruit.  More info

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum
1
$32.50

St Abbs Six Spice

70cl, 40%
St. Abbs

Spiced rum from the St. Abbs range (which takes its name from a 1855 shipwreck in the Indian Ocean) made with a blend of Caribbean rums and six specially selected spices.  More info

St Abbs Six Spice
$32.82

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
$36.98

English Harbour Madeira Cask Finish

70cl, 46%
The Antigua Distillery

From Antiguan premium rum producers English Harbour comes an experimental release, the Madeira Cask Finish. This small-batch rum is aged initially in ex-bourbon barrels for five years, before it is…  More info

English Harbour Madeira Cask Finish
$37.56
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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
10
$22.66
$16.78

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

Long-aged Cuban rum - yum yum yum... This is the 20 year old expression from the Santiago de Cuba range, named after the second largest city in Cuba. Not often seen on these shores, but very…  More info

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo
$138.07

Mezan Jamaica XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Mezan

This is a blend of casks from two distilleries in Jamaica: Monymusk and Hampden. The latter distillery has Scottish roots, and is one of the oldest sugar plantations in the country. It has always…  More info

Mezan Jamaica XO Rum
8
$39.15

Bayou Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Bayou Rum

A spiced rum inspired by the flavours of Louisiana! Featuring a selection of Louisiana-grown spices at its core, this lip-smacking tipple is suitable for sipping neat or enjoying with your favourite…  More info

Bayou Spiced Rum
1
$22.16

New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

This is the New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum, matured in a selection of French Limousin casks and port pipes. This Mauritian rum is suited to sipping neat or being used in a cocktail which…  More info

New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum
$34.02

St. Lucia Distillers 1931 Fifth Edition

70cl, 46%
St. Lucia Distillers

The fifth release from St. Lucia Distillers and the 1931 bottlings, celebrating the year that Dennery distillery merged with another local distillery to form St. Lucia Distillers. There's are always…  More info

St. Lucia Distillers 1931 Fifth Edition
$71.20

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Clarke's Court

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
$44.27

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.
3
$43.50

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof

70cl, 63%
J Wray and Nephew

The best-selling high proof rum in the world. 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are of Wray and Nephew. Overproof is a very potent spirit indeed!  More info

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof
38
$31.96

Monymusk 10 Year Old Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Monymusk

A single cask Jamaican rum produced by the Monymusk distillery and independently bottled by Hunter Laing as part of their impressive Kill Devil range. It was distilled in March 2007 (using Monymusk's…  More info

Monymusk 10 Year Old Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$53.57

Chamarel XO Rum

70cl, 43%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole aged for 6 years in French oak, Charamel XO is a family favourite for the producer.  More info

Chamarel XO Rum
$77.53

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