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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.

St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

The St. Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old Barbados rum is the first from the range which was distilled and aged entirely on the estate! Should be an fascinating tipple...  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old
$67.55

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
2
$31.51

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum

70cl, 40%
Kikusui Shuzo

When you think of rum, what's the first country that comes to mind? That's right, Japan! Well that's exactly where this Ryoma 7 year old rum is from. The sugarcane used to make the Ryoma is grown by…  More info

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum
3
$59.30

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
$126.13

Bellevue 18 Year Old 1998 Guadeloupe - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 58.2%
Bellevue

Single cask rum from the Kill Devil range, independently bottled by Hunter Laing. THis was distilled in Guadeloupe by the Bellevue distillery in March 1998 and aged for 18 years before being bottled…  More info

Bellevue 18 Year Old 1998 Guadeloupe - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$131.32

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l

150cl, 35%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan's Spiced is a blend of Caribbean rums, flavoured with a mix of vanilla and cassia. Aged in Scotland in charred casks.  More info

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l
3
$38.49

Mount Gay Extra Old

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

A full bodied rum from Barbados, very enjoyable. This was awarded its 5th Gran Gold award at the Monde Selection in Brussels, as well as a trophy at the 2001 International Spirits Challenge in…  More info

Mount Gay Extra Old
27
$39.21

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)
$78.21

Westerhall No.5 Rum

70cl, 43%
Westerhall

Replacing the Westerhall Plantation Rum (Westerhall's range underwent a redesign in mid-2016), Westerhall Rum No.5 is a great base for all manner of fruity rum cocktails.  More info

Westerhall No.5 Rum
1
$30.16

New Grove Old Tradition 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

8 year old Mauritian rum from the New Grove brand. Suited to slow sipping in the evening, with an ice cube or two if you're lucky enough to be enjoying this in Mauritius.  More info

New Grove Old Tradition 8 Year Old Rum
$45.66

Ron Pampero Aniversario

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

A delicious dark rum from Ron Pampero, this is made in continuous stills in Venezuela. It's full, rich and very fruity.  More info

Ron Pampero Aniversario
9
$41.16

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
$38.57

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Herman Jansen

Holy Spirit Gold Label is an aged rum from Barbados, released by the chaps behind the Sweden Rock Festival. Plenty of creamy vanilla, tropical fruit and a touch of chocolate - enjoy in a cocktail,…  More info

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum
$47.67

Westerhall No.10 Rum

70cl, 40%
Westerhall

From Grenadian producer Westerhall Estate comes their Rum No.10, launched in mid-2016 to replace their Westerhall Vintage Rum as part of a range redesign. A great rum for enjoying neat or giving your…  More info

Westerhall No.10 Rum
$38.80

New Dawn 18 Rum Solera

70cl, 42%
New Dawn Traders

A Solera-aged Dominican Republic rum presented by the New Dawn Traders range, crafted for them by Oliver and Oliver.  More info

New Dawn 18 Rum Solera
$68.61

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A white rum which needs very little introduction, Bacardi's Carta Blanca is incredible popular indeed, seen on backbars around the world. The Bacardi brand originated in Cuba, and the first…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
$20.14

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
$50.54

Ron Abuelo XV - Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

An interesting expression from Panamanian Rum range Ron Abuelo - a well-aged expression which has been given a finishing period in casks that previously contained Napoleon Cognac! Ought to be a…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish
$71.67

Mount Gay Black Barrel

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

Released in the UK in 2014, the Mount Gay Black Barrel rum is made from single column and double pot distilled rum, though using a higher proportion of double pot distillates than their other…  More info

Mount Gay Black Barrel
13
$33.94

Rational Spirits Cuban Inspired Rum (141 Proof)

75cl, 70.5%
Rational Spirits

A Cuban-inspired rum from the Rational Spirits folks, made with Grade A molasses, pot distillation and maturation in charred and toasted new American oak casks. This one has been bottled at 141…  More info

Rational Spirits Cuban Inspired Rum (141 Proof)
$65.27

English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

A well-aged Antiguan rum, blended from rums aged between 10 and 25 years. This was matured in bourbon barrels.  More info

English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old
3
$87.19

Enmore 24 Year Old 1992 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Enmore

A single cask bottling of Guyanese rum from the Enmore distillery, bottled by Hunter Laing as part of the rather brilliant Kill Devil range (cracking bottle and label design on these). This was…  More info

Enmore 24 Year Old 1992 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$154.31

El Ron Prohibido Rum

70cl, 40%
Cervecera Mexicana

El Ron Prohibido, is a Mexican rum which is made of a blend of rums of different ages, blended with used raisin wine barrels - an intriguing choice that pays off with distinctive bitter-sweet notes…  More info

El Ron Prohibido Rum
5
$28.49

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
$37.44

Monymusk Overproof White Rum

70cl, 63%
Monymusk

An overproof white rum produced in Jamaica by the Monymusk Estate. Triple distilled and bottled at 63% ABV, this will certainly stand out in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Monymusk Overproof White Rum
1
$31.96

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