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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.

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
3
$20.47

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection

70cl, 40%
Angostura

The second release of Angostura's Cask Collection No.1 is a 16 year old rum from Trinidad which was allowed to age for 10 years in American oak casks before being transferred over to once-used French…  More info

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection
$100.57

Pumpkin Face 23

75cl, 40%
Pumpkin Face

Well aged rum from the Dominican Republic, released as part of the Pumpkin Face! It was distilled in 1980, aged in oak casks for 23 years and also spent 10 years resting in stainless steel vats…  More info

Pumpkin Face 23
$71.08

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A Magnum bottling of very well-aged rum from Peruvian producer, Ron Millonario. If you've not tried Peruvian rum before, well, this would be a very good place to start. Masses of sweet, well-rounded…  More info

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)
1
$223.82

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

An award winning rum; this took a silver at the 2006 and 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competitions. This also attained a Gold at the International Review of Spirits. A great mixing rum, very…  More info

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum
3
$22.64

Don Q Cristal

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The entry level expression from the Don Q rum range - the Don Q Cristal is made using multiple distillation method to achieve its desired flavour profile, and allowed to rest in American oak barrels…  More info

Don Q Cristal
$26.15

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
$27.29

Balcones Texas Rum

75cl, 63.90%
Balcones

The Balcones distillers in Waco, Texas, have only gone and made their own rum! It's a molasses-based rum which has been double distilled and aged in a variety of casks with differing toast levels and…  More info

Balcones Texas Rum
2
$109.38

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A 1.5 litre bottling of the one of the world's best-selling spirits! Bacardi was first created in Cuba but moved to Puerto Rico rather than face nationalisation. Thanks to its stint in Cuba, the…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l
$52.90

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 Guatemalan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Darsa Distillery

A single cask rum from the home of Ron Zacapa and Ron Botran, distilled from a fermented 'honey' made from condensed sugar cane. The outturn from this single cask was 333 bottles.  More info

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 Guatemalan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$46.88

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
$69.57

Bellevue 17 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Bellevue

A Compagnie Des Indes bottling of 17 year old rum from the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe. It was distilled in March 1998 and bottled in June 2015, with 298 bottles. These Compagnie Des Indes…  More info

Bellevue 17 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$71.37

Ron Cubay 10 Year Old - Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Cuba Ron

Wonderful Cuban rum which has enjoyed a rather lengthy maturation (for a rum). 10 years in the cask has given this beauty bags of character, flavour and an glorious mahogany hue.  More info

Ron Cubay 10 Year Old - Reserva Especial
2
$42.63

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old

70cl, 37.50%
Caldas

An 8 year old rum from the Colombian brand, Ron Viejo De Caldas. It spends 8 years maturing in used bourbon barrels before it's bottled. While it has been bottled at 37.5% ABV, it still shows off a…  More info

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old
$32.66

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
13
$20.89

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum

70cl, 50%
Trois Rivieres

A tangy, punchy white rhum agricole made in Martinique by the legendary Trois Rivières. Loads of flavour here, this works really well in white rum cocktails such as a Daiquiri of a Mojito.  More info

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum
$33.11

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
$47.67

Doorlys 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

This white rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados is perfect for a variety of rum-based cocktails.  More info

Doorlys 3 Year Old
$24.44

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend

70cl, 43%
Ron Barceló

A limited edition bottling of Ron Barceló, created in celebration of 30 years production. Every year since 1980, Miguel Barceló has set aside private reserves of his rum for two extra years of…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend
1
$85.12

Havana Club Blanco 3 Year Old - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Havana Club

3 year old Havana Club Blanco rum, produced over 30 years ago. Aged blanco rums are excellent for cocktails, as they bring intense, rich flavour profiles but don't change the hue of your drinks -…  More info

Havana Club Blanco 3 Year Old - 1970s
$157.59

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
3
$28.89

Rhum de Père Labat 50

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

A 50% ABV bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, produced on the island of Marie-Galante, which is located just south of Guadeloupe. At 50% ABV, this will stand out in cocktails…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 50
$32.25

Caroni 10 Year Old Reserve Rum of Trinidad - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Caroni

A blend of Caroni rums from Trinidad aged for at least ten years. One of many excellent rums bottled by Bristol Spirits.  More info

Caroni 10 Year Old Reserve Rum of Trinidad - Bristol Spirits
$64.52

WeiRon

70cl, 50%
Svenska Eldvatten

The Svenska Eldvatten chaps have only gone and created their own rum! Not content to only bottle rum for their Rum Swedes range, they've blended their own using aged rums from the Caribbean. A…  More info

WeiRon
1
$49.19

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum

70cl, 57%
Smith and Cross

A Navy Strength edition of the classic Smith and Cross Jamaica rum, this stuff is beautiful for sipping neat, and works tremendously well with a couple of ice cubes and a squeeze of lime juice.  More info

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum
5
$35.71

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