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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.

Pink Pigeon Original

70cl, 40%
Pink Pigeon

A fabulous rum from Mauritius, flavoured with vanilla and spices including nutmeg. It was named for the Pink Pigeon, a bird that is native to the island and recently climbed from critically…  More info

Pink Pigeon Original
9
$25.87

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
$19.84

Panama 11 Year Old 2006 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 61.5%
Hunter Laing

An independent bottling of rum from Panama, aged for 11 years in a single cask. This was independently bottled as part of Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range. 264 bottles were produced.  More info

Panama 11 Year Old 2006 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$73.61

Diplomático Ambassador

70cl, 47%
Diplomático

Diplomatico's flagship, the Ambassador was created by Tito Cordero, Golden Barrel Award's 2011 Master Rum Blender of the Year. Expect huge juicy sweetness and flavour thanks to its maturation in…  More info

Diplomático Ambassador
2
$206.41

Westerhall White Jack

75cl, 70%
Westerhall

Westerhall White Jack form Grenada is a 70% abv rum, winner of The Spirits Business Rum Gold Award 2011.  More info

Westerhall White Jack
$38.28

Ron Abuelo XV - Tawny Port Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

Port-cask finished, well-aged Panamanian rum? Yum yum yum! This comes to us via Ron Abuelo's Finish Collection, which features rums finished in Sherry and Cognac casks alongside this delicious treat.  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Tawny Port Cask Finish
$69.02

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

An indulgent 15 year old rum from Ron Mulata, produced in Cuba, exclusively making use of their top quality Cuban cane syrup. It has been aged in 180 litre oak casks, which the distillers say give it…  More info

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo
2
$56.57

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004

70cl, 43.3%
Penny Blue

This is the fourth batch of Penny Blue Rum, produced at Medine, the oldest operational distillery in Mauritius. An excellent expression, made with rums aged between 4 and 11 years old. The Penny Blue…  More info

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004
1
$41.63

Plantation Guyana 2005

70cl, 45%
Plantation

Distilled in the Demerara region of Guyana, this is a 2005 vintage pot-still, bourbon barrel-matured rum from Plantation Rum. A deep, earthy expression, featuring notes of cigar box and vanilla on…  More info

Plantation Guyana 2005
1
$48.68

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
3
$51.96

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
$51.40

Rum Nation Panama Solera (2016 Release)

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

A Panamanian rum aged in a solera system and bottled by Italy's Rum Nation. Very rich and flavoursome - should pair very well with dark chocolate...  More info

Rum Nation Panama Solera (2016 Release)
$50.47

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged

70cl, 40%
Plantation

The Original Dark expression from Plantation has had a little bit of a revamp! It's now made with aged rum from Trinidad and Jamaica, which then blended together and aged further in Cognac casks,…  More info

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged
1
$27.16

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hampden

Another handsome Kill Devil rum bottled by Hunter Laing, this time from Hampden Estate in Jamaica. 316 bottles were produced.  More info

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$69.44

Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Casks

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Sit down, gentle reader, and we shall tell you a tale. On the 2nd May 2007 a great fire ravaged St Lucia Distillers distillery, destroying much of the storage buildings. "Good heavens!" You might…  More info

Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Casks
3
$40.36

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Kraken

An excellent spiced rum, with utterly brilliant packaging! This was launched in the UK in early 2010, and it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
48
$22.56

Sancti Spiritus 17 Year Old 1999 - Cask Strength (WM Cadenhead)

70cl, 62.6%
Sancti Spiritus

Here's a tasty indie bottling from the folks at WM Cadenhead, one of Scotland's oldest independent bottlers - while you may know them more for their whisky bottlings, this one is a rum! It was…  More info

Sancti Spiritus 17 Year Old 1999 - Cask Strength (WM Cadenhead)
$75.32

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition

70cl, 47%
Ron de Jeremy

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
7
$33.71

Dictador 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Produced in Colombia, this delicious Solera rum from Dictador, aged for between 8 and 14 years, with an average age of 12 years. The rum is diluted to bottling strength with demineralised water which…  More info

Dictador 12 Year Old
3
$37.14

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum

35cl, 45%
Sweetdram

A cracking collaborative effort between East London-based distilling collective Sweetdram and the East London Liquor Company! This is made with a base of Demerara rum, which is combined with a…  More info

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum
$24.58

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old

50cl, 43%
Licores Veracruz

Named for the heroes of the Mexican revolution, with 'Los Valientes' meaning 'the valiant' or 'the brave', this is the oldest release in the series at 20 years old. The rum itself is unusually made…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old
$46.50

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
6
$21.29

Six Saints Caribbean Rum

70cl, 41.7%
Six Saints Rum

Six Saints Caribbean Rum comes to us from Grenada after being aged in bourbon barrels and bottled at 41.7% ABV. Though Grenada is known as the 'Island of Spice', this isn't actually a spiced rum!…  More info

Six Saints Caribbean Rum
1
$45.30

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo's Finish Collection, which has been given a finishing period in Oloroso Sherry casks! This'll be very interesting to taste alongside the other expressions in the range,…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
$69.02

Pirate's Grog Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

This ship-shape sight is Pirate's Grog Rum, made from a blend of Caribbean rums which are aged in bourbon barrels for 3 to 5 years on the island of Roatán. Sweet with vanilla and brown sugars, this…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum
4
$30.08

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