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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.

Pirate's Grog No.13

70cl, 40%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

Pirate's Grog No. 13 is a marvellous rum that's well suited to enjoying neat or over ice. It's also got a drop-dead grogeous gorgeous bottle with an handsome shiny label...  More info

Pirate's Grog No.13
2
$75.17
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Secret Distillery #1 9 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 58%
That Boutique-y Rum Company

One of the initial rums from the launch of That Boutique-y Rum Company! This one was produced by an undisclosed distillery in Jamaica, matured for 9 years before being bottled by those Boutique-y…  More info

Secret Distillery #1 9 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
1
$51.53
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Caroni 21 Year Old 1996 Trinidad Rum

70cl, 57.2%
Caroni

An impressive 21 year old rum from Caroni in Trinidad, bottled by Italian company, Velier. This was distilled in 1996 and aged for 21 years before being bottled at cask strength - a hearty 57.2% ABV.…  More info

Caroni 21 Year Old 1996 Trinidad Rum
1
$257.92

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
4
$64.43

Admiral Vernon's Old J Gold Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Old J

Old J Gold Spiced rum bottled at 40%, flavoured with Persian lime and vanilla. Enjoy over ice with ginger beer and a slice of lime.  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Gold Spiced Rum
3
$25.25

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
2
$38.64
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Old Grog

75cl, 40%
Old Grog

Old Grog takes it's name for from the rum shipped from Grenada to England for King George III. This rum was labelled Georgius Rex Old Grenada and the abbreviation was taken to name this golden rum.  More info

Old Grog
3
$39.90
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Veritas Rum

70cl, 47%
Foursquare

Veritas (which is the Latin for 'truth', and was the name of the Roman goddess of truth) is an intriguing and delightful rum was created from a collaboration by the wonderful Foursquare and Hampden,…  More info

Veritas Rum
$36.48

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
$133.89

Dictador 20 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Aged in a Solera system for between 14 and 24 years, this delicious Colombian rum was made by the Dictador company. It is brought down to bottling strength with demineralised water slowly - drop by…  More info

Dictador 20 Year Old
7
$52.53
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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
13
$21.97
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Hampden Estate Rum (46%)

70cl, 46%
Hampden

The Hamden Estate in Jamaica has long produced excellent aged rum, much of which goes into blends, making it a bit hard to come by (indie bottlers do sometimes get their hands on a few casks, mind).…  More info

Hampden Estate Rum (46%)
$64.43

Diplomático Mantuano

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

From the fantastic Diplomático Rum selection, produced in Venezuela, comes their Mantuano expression.  More info

Diplomático Mantuano
1
$31.12
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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
1
$35.86
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Blended Rum #1 9 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 55%
That Boutique-y Rum Company

The first blended rum from That Boutique-y Rum Company! This is a 9 year old expression created with a selection of both pot a column still rums from multiple distilleries in Jamaica. No hints as to…  More info

Blended Rum #1 9 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$52.60
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Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend

70cl, 43%
Appleton Estate

Previously known as "12 Year Old Extra", Appleton's Rare Blend is a top rum aged in American oak barrels.  More info

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend
9
$38.20
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Doorly's 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

The 12 year old Doorly's Rum has finally made it to our shores! Top stuff from a top range, expect masses of tropical fruit, chewy caramel, leafy tobacco and fragrant oak notes throughout gorgeous…  More info

Doorly's 12 Year Old
7
$41.86
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Balla Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Cockspur

Spiced rum from the folks behind the Cockspur rum range, built around spiced from the Caribbean. They recommend serving it in a Zombie cocktail, or simply mixed with cola and a good wedge of lime for…  More info

Balla Black Spiced Rum
3
$26.31

Uitvlugt (Port Mourant Still) 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 53.2%
Uitvlugt

26 year old rum from Uitvlugt's Port Mourant still. The distillery has since sadly closed, though indie bottlers like That Boutique-y Rum Company somehow manage to get their hands on rare rums like…  More info

Uitvlugt (Port Mourant Still) 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$218.10
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Skipper Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Skipper

A delicious dark rum distilled in Guyana, Skipper was launched in 1930 and it still has the same label! A rich, thick spirit which works brilliantly well in cocktails, or with cola and a squeeze of…  More info

Skipper Demerara Rum
3
$22.52
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Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

An añejo Cuban rum and a silver medal winner at the 1996 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. This 3 year old Havana Club is a key part of good, refreshing daiquiri.  More info

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old
10
$20.80

Snakepit Venom Rum

70cl, 65%
Snakepit

A high-strength spiced rum from North West Spirits, made with a blend of aged Caribbean rums blended with a selection of secret spices. Ought to be able to make quite an impression in your mixed…  More info

Snakepit Venom Rum
1
$56.94

RedLeg Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
RedLeg

RedLeg is a superb spiced rum made with Caribbean spirit which was aged in old oak whilst being infused with Jamaican vanilla and ginger. Just superb and very good on a crisp Winter's evening!  More info

RedLeg Spiced Rum
24
$23.25
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English Harbour 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

English Harbour is a rum from Antigua. This 5 year old was a Double Gold winner at the 2005 San Francisco Competition.  More info

English Harbour 5 Year Old
2
$28.09
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Enmore (Versailles Still) 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 51.2%
Enmore

A 27 year old Guyanese rum from the long-closed Enmore distillery, independently bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company. It was produced using the Versailles single wooden pot still during its brief…  More info

Enmore (Versailles Still) 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$214.87
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