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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.

Panama Rum 10 Year Old 2006 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 60.5%
Hunter Laing

Single cask 10 year old rum here from an undisclosed distillery in Panama, bottled at cask strength 60.5% - another excellent release from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range. 264 bottles were produced.  More info

Panama Rum 10 Year Old 2006 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$74.91

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35.0%
Old J

Based around the vibrant flavours of Persian lime and vanilla paired with classic rum notes, Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink (technically it's not a rum, as its ABV is under 37.5%) goes great over ice…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
2
$20.27

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old

70cl, 40.0%
Flor de Caña

A great Nicaraguan rum from Flor de Caña. This 7 year old is great as a mixing rum, and it makes a fantastic cocktail. It is aged in 180 litre white oak barrels, which are only used once before…  More info

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old
1
$27.05

Atlantico Rum Platino

70cl, 40.0%
Atlantico

A Blanco bottling from Atlantico. Great in all manner of Rum cocktails.  More info

Atlantico Rum Platino
$28.86

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo

70cl, 38.0%
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
$59.03

Sunset Captain Bligh XO

75cl, 40.0%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

An XO rum from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is distilled from molasses in a modern two column still, and it is diluted to 87.5% before it is aged in first fill Kentucky bourbon barrels for…  More info

Sunset Captain Bligh XO
1
$30.95

Old Port East Indian Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Amrut

A double charcoal-filtered rum produced in India. Packaged in a distinct bell-shaped bottle.  More info

Old Port East Indian Rum
1
$20.61

Morant Bay Spiced Red Rum

70cl, 42.0%
Morant Bay

Morant Bay is a spiced rum made in copper pot stills and is distilled in the UK (through The English Spirit Distillery). Containing Caribbean molasses, the resultant spirit is then infused using a…  More info

Morant Bay Spiced Red Rum
3
$31.82

Opthimus 25 Rum

70cl, 38.0%
Oliver & Oliver

The Opthimus range is a selection of Solera-aged Dominican Republic rums from Oliver & Oliver.  More info

Opthimus 25 Rum
1
$79.77

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38.0%
Ron Mulata

The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old
$26.52

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Bleeding Heart Rum Co

A richly flavoursome rum from the Philippines, inspired by the story of Papa Isio, who played a big part in the late-19th century Philippine revolution. The rum itself is made using sugar cane grown…  More info

Don Papa Small Batch Rum
5
$34.52

Appleton Estate Signature Blend

70cl, 40.0%
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
$21.63

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer

70cl, 40.0%
Santa Teresa

The oldest rum in the Santa Teresa catalogue, Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer is made with very old Venezuelan rums. It is named in honour of Alberto J Vollmer, who founded the brand.  More info

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer
2
$136.37

Ancient Mariner 16 Year Old Navy Rum

50cl, 54.0%
Ancient Mariner

Daily Tots were issued by the Royal Navy for hundred of years, up until July 1970 when they were removed. Ancient Mariner was made with the rum used by the Royal Navy in mind. To revive the classic…  More info

Ancient Mariner 16 Year Old Navy Rum
2
$44.41

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged

70cl, 40.0%
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
$28.34

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro

70cl, 40.0%
Santiago de Cuba

From the producers of Santiago de Cuba comes a treasure chest full of Cuban rum! The rum itself isn't just sloshing around in the chest - it comes presented in a vintage-looking ceramic decanter.  More info

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro
$619.59

Sunset Light Rum SLR

75cl, 40.0%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

A white rum distilled on the island of Saint Vincent. Sunset SLR was created in 1998, and it has a light, delicate flavour that works well in cocktails.  More info

Sunset Light Rum SLR
$23.67

Rumshak Spiced

70cl, 35.0%
Rumshak

This is a blend of a variety of Caribbean rums flavoured with mulling spices. While it's not technically a rum, as it is under 37.5% abv, it's still technically delicious.  More info

Rumshak Spiced
$21.86

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo

50cl, 40.0%
Havana Club

The Havana Club Máximo is an Extra Añejo rum made from a decidedly illustrious blend of rare, old rums taken from their extensive reserves, crafted by the skilled hands of Maestro Ronero, Don José…  More info

Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo
2
$1298.56

Cadenhead's Classic Rum

70cl, 50.0%
WM Cadenhead

Though known more for their whisky bottlings (they're one of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland!), W.M. Cadenhead also bottle delicious rums, too. This is their Classic Rum, made with…  More info

Cadenhead's Classic Rum
$35.21

Ron Quorhum 12 Year Old

70cl, 40.0%
Oliver & Oliver

12 year old rum from the Dominican Republic, released under the Ron Quorhum brand by Oliver & Oliver. A sweet, subtly herbal expression, packed with notes of caramel, liquorice and oak-y resin.  More info

Ron Quorhum 12 Year Old
$40.35

Caña Brava 3 Year Old Rum

70cl, 43.0%
Las Cabras

Caña Brava is produced at the Panamanian distillery, Las Cabras, under the watchful eye of Francisco "Don Pancho" J. Fernandez. It is aged for 18 to 24 months in new American oak barrels before being…  More info

Caña Brava 3 Year Old Rum
$28.32

Ron Barceló Imperial

70cl, 38.0%
Ron Barceló

An excellent Dominican rum, Barceló Imperial was awarded a Gold Medal and also the coveted "Best In Category" title at the 2008 International Cane Spirits Festival. This is aged for between 4 and 10…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial
8
$33.43

Elements 8 Gold Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Elements 8 Rum

A very fruity, very honeyed gem from St Lucia. Elements 8 gold rum is a light-to-medium-bodied spirit which works well as both a mixer and a sipper with a few ice cubes and a splash of lime.  More info

Elements 8 Gold Rum
$32.91

Demerara Distillers 13 Year Old - Guyana Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43.0%
Demerara Distillers Limited

Another molasses rum from French independent bottlers Compagnie Des Indes, this time distilled at Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana (the Port Mourant still) and aged for 13 years in a single…  More info

Demerara Distillers 13 Year Old - Guyana Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$67.51

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