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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. 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.

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
La Mauny

La Mauny 1749 Ambré is an aged Rhum Agricole from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean. 1749 Ambré is matured for at least 12 months before it is bottled.  More info

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole
$33.42

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

Virgin Gorda 1493 is a golden blend of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados, the oldest of which is eight years old. The producers describe it as 'sensual'.  More info

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum
$38.50

Lost Spirits - Polynesian Inspired Rum

75cl, 66%
Lost Spirits

The Lost Spirits distillers out in California made with their own lab grown dunder and low rectification distillation (like their Navy Style rums). Here the result is "possibly the highest density of…  More info

Lost Spirits - Polynesian Inspired Rum
$75.87

Diplomático Reserva

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A very good aged rum from Diplomático in Venezuela. This is mix of both potstill and column still rums. This was awarded a Gold Medal at the Rum Experience 2007 in London.  More info

Diplomático Reserva
$33.50

Owney's Original Rum

70cl, 40%
The Noble Experiment NYC

Owney's Original Rum comes to us from The Noble Experiment NYC, established by Bridget C. Firtle in 2012. Named in honour of Owen 'Owney' Madden, a Prohibition-era rum-runner and speak-easy…  More info

Owney's Original Rum
$51.03

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
$48.49

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004

70cl, 43.30%
Penny Blue

This is the fourth batch of Penny Blue Rum, produced at Medine, the oldest operational distillery in Mauritius. An excellent expression, made with rums aged between 4 and 11 years old. The Penny Blue…  More info

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004
1
$48.28

Bacardi Ron Superior Heritage Limited Edition

70cl, 44.50%
Bacardi

A limited edition bottling of Barcardi Superior, in a bottle styled after how the legendary rum was presented over 100 years ago. Not only that, it has been bottled at 44.5% ABV, the original…  More info

Bacardi Ron Superior Heritage Limited Edition
$58.40

Mocambo 15 Year Old

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

Produced in Mexico by Licores Veracruz, Mocambo is a delicious dark rum, matured in European white oak and bottled unblended, as a single barrel product. This is a medium-bodied, 15 year old rum.  More info

Mocambo 15 Year Old
$28.30

Admiral Benbow Navy Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Benbow

This was named after the legendary Admiral John Benbow who served in the Royal Navy from 1678 to 1702. It's a rich navy-style rum and it works very well in cocktails or with mixers.  More info

Admiral Benbow Navy Rum
3
$17.21

Angostura 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A mix of both light and full bodied rums produced in Angostura's five column still set up. It is aged for between 5 and 8 years in American Oak Bourbon barrels. The results are fruity, caramel rich…  More info

Angostura 5 Year Old
$27.10

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

An impressive, well aged Flor de Caña single estate rum, made with spirits which have been aged for at least 25 years. A stunning, radiant hue makes it a wonder to look at, and it tastes as good as…  More info

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old
$150.59

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

From the Sancti Spiritus distillery comes a 2003 vintage Cuban rum, bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2013. One of the many fine independently bottled rums from the UK bottler, rich in fruit sweetness…  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits
$57.39

J. Bally Rhum Ambre

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

Delicious gold rhum agricole made in Martinique, J Bally Ambre is brilliant on the rocks, or in a Mai Tai…  More info

J. Bally Rhum Ambre
$34.51

Brugal Dry Spiced

70cl, 38%
Brugal

From Brugal in the Dominican Republic comes their dry spiced rum, perfect for cocktails where you want the sweeter notes of rums to step to the side (just a little bit) to allow the simmering spices…  More info

Brugal Dry Spiced
$30.05

Ron Espero Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Espero

Well-aged, vibrantly fruity Dominican rum from the Ron Espero brand, matured in a solera system for four to seven years. Good for rum-based cocktails that need to be jam-packed with flavour.  More info

Ron Espero Añejo Especial
$28.80

Bacardi Superior

70cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

Let us introduce the world's most popular spirit… No backbar is complete without the classic white rum Bacardi Carta Blanca, originally produced in Cuba - at the first distillery there was a colony…  More info

Bacardi Superior
$22.14

La Mauny Extra Rubis Rhum Agricole

70cl, 42%
La Mauny

Made with a blend of 6 rums which have been aged between 8 and 30 years in a mix of new oak and ex-bourbon casks, La Mauny Extra Rubis is an extraordinary premium rum. It was produced in Martinique,…  More info

La Mauny Extra Rubis Rhum Agricole
$181.93

Smatt's Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Smatt's

Perhaps the first 'super-premium' white rum from Jamaican producer Smatt. Think Grey Goose Vodka, Junipero Gin - that kind of super-premium. Jolly nice.  More info

Smatt's Silver Rum
1
$52.83

Guyanan Rum 14 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

Guyana once had a rather bustling distillery community back in the day, but those days have sadly passed. However, don't be sad for too long, as Berry Bros. & Rudd can still get their hands on…  More info

Guyanan Rum 14 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
1
$77.67

Rhum J.M Gold

70cl, 50%
Rhum J.M

Rhum agricole from Martinique, aged in oak casks for at least 12 months.  More info

Rhum J.M Gold
$46.70

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.50%
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
$22.49

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
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
$30.07

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
$54.18

Tilambic 151 Overproof Rum

70cl, 75.50%
Green Island

A high strength Mauritian rum, which is aged in oak for up to 7 years before being bottled at an eye-watering 75.5% ABV. Intense with dried fruits and plenty of spice. As with all high-strength…  More info

Tilambic 151 Overproof Rum
$67.66

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