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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.

Sunset Captain Bligh XO

75cl, 40%
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
$31.24

Sancti Spiritus 17 Year Old 1998 Cuban Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Sancti Spiritus

Single cask Cuban rum from Sancti Spiritus bottled by Hunter Laing for their awesome Kill Devil range.  More info

Sancti Spiritus 17 Year Old 1998 Cuban Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$69.01

St Nicholas Abbey White Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A white rum from the St Nicholas Abbey distillery in Barbados. Winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, the highest medal awarded in its category.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey White Rum
$44.05

Havana Club Añejo Blanco

70cl, 37.50%
Havana Club

Añejo Blanco is a splendid mixing rum. The spirit was aged for 18 months in 180 litre barrels. Described by Havana Club's Primer Maestro Romero, Don José Navarro, as "The whitest of all aged rums,…  More info

Havana Club Añejo Blanco
5
$20.06

Mauritius Club Rum

70cl, 40%
Gold of Mauritius

Get a taste of fantastic Mauritian rum with the very handsomely presented Mauritius Club Rum. An enjoyably rich, decadent expression, bursting with dark fruit, fresh spice and creamy vanilla notes.  More info

Mauritius Club Rum
$34.97

Elements 8 Platinum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This white/platinum rum is matured for 4 years in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, blended from over 10 different rums. Element 8 is diluted with naturally filtered rainforest water.  More info

Elements 8 Platinum
$33.22

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold

70cl, 35%
Captain Morgan

A rounded, medium bodied spiced spirit drink (to be classified as a rum, it needs to be 37.5% abv) known the world over. Captain Morgan's Spiced is great value for money, and needs little…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold
25
$18.27

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)

75cl, 69%
Westerhall

Overproof rum from Grenada-based producers, Westerhall Estate. Their Iron Jack is allowed to age in charred oak casks before being bottled at a generous 69% ABV - you'll want to dilute this well with…  More info

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)
$40.45

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
7
$21.76

Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum

75cl, 40%
Pumpkin Face

An aged edition of Pumpkin Face rum! Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum is made with a blend of rums from the Dominican Republic, some of which has been aged for quite a while indeed. Of course, it has once…  More info

Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum
$59.07

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35%
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
$20.47

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
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
$26.77

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

An interesting blend of rum made with sugar cane juice and rum made with molasses, which is then aged for 10 years in oak barrels. A Mexican spirit, the "Los Valientes" rum comes from the phrase…  More info

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum
$26.16

Bacardi 151 Rum

100cl, 75.50%
Bacardi

Perhaps the world's most famous "151" rum - a rum with an abv of 75.5%, Bacardi's 151 is a sweet, intensely spicy affair and a must-have for various rum-based cocktails.  More info

Bacardi 151 Rum
1
$81.47

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

5 year old rum from the Real McCoy range (which is named after what people supposedly used to call the spirits sold by Bill McCoy, legendary Prohibition-era smuggler). The rum spends its maturation…  More info

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old
$32.79

Origenes Reserva Especial 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

An excellent 18 year old rum, which was created by Francisco 'Don Pancho' Fernandez Perez. Top stuff from an man with many years of experience in crafted high quality rum under his belt.  More info

Origenes Reserva Especial 18 Year Old
$60.71

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
$46.48

Legendario Ron Dorado

70cl, 38%
Legendario

Great for cocktails and mixed drinks, Legendario's Ron Dorado is a subtly sweet, seductive Cuban rum. Should make for a good Palmetto, we reckon.  More info

Legendario Ron Dorado
$24.80

Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old 1990

70cl, 45%
Rum Nation

Beautifully aged rum from Italian bottler Rum Nation, finished in a Sherry cask.  More info

Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old 1990
$115.75

XM Special 12 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Banks DIH

A 12 year old rum blended and bottled in Guyana by Banks D'Aguiar Industries & Holdings.  More info

XM Special 12 Year Old Rum
$38.22

Ron Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Riserva

70cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

This spirit from Ron Millonario is a beautifully packaged solera-aged rum from Peru. Distilled in column stills, it comes packaged in a woven-covered bottle and it was awarded a Gold Medal at the…  More info

Ron Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Riserva
7
$46.78

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
$38.82

Clarkes Court Spicy Rum

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

Bottled at a high proof, this is a delicious spiced rum which was produced in Grenada by the Clarkes Court company. Very good indeed.  More info

Clarkes Court Spicy Rum
5
$43.73

East London Liquor Company Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Demerara Distillers Ltd

Released by the East London Liquor Company, this is a Guyanese Demerara Rum that has rather interestingly been distilled in a wooden Coffey still - the only surviving wooden column still in the…  More info

East London Liquor Company Demerara Rum
$27.64

Opthimus 25 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

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

Opthimus 25 Rum
1
$80.53

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