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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.

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Made in Kingston, Jamaica, Appleton Estate Classic White rum is exactly that; a classic white rum. Perfect for mixing, it wouldn't go amiss in a Yellow Submarine or a traditional mojito.  More info

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%
$20.40

Old Port East Indian Rum

70cl, 40%
Amrut

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

Old Port East Indian Rum
1
$23.29

Mezan Jamaica Monymusk 2003 Rum

70cl, 40%
Monymusk

An independently bottled rum, distilled by the Monymusk distillery in Jamaica in 2003, bottled by Mezan. Look out for notes of tropical fruit, banana bread and rich, aromatic oak.  More info

Mezan Jamaica Monymusk 2003 Rum
$37.31

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole

70cl, 42%
Clément

Don't miss out on the first Clément 15 Year Old, a fine rhum agricole which a huge proportion lost to 'the angels' share'!  More info

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole
$136.41

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
$52.35

Red Bonny Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Red Bonny

Red Bonny is a blend of rums from Guyana, aged for at least 3 years. It's named after Anne Bonny, a red-headed Irish woman and famous pirate who lived an extraordinary life full of adventure…  More info

Red Bonny Dark Rum
$29.96

Pusser's "Yachting" Decanter

100cl, 42%
Pusser's

A Pusser's Navy Rum decanter celebrating the sport of yachting! This gorgeous decanter, containing 1 litre of Pusser's excellent rum, is decorated with a number of different yachts, which will be…  More info

Pusser's
$97.93

Saint James Heritage

70cl, 40%
Saint James

Saint James Heritage is a blend of rums from six different locations - Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Trinidad.  More info

Saint James Heritage
$20.17

Havana Club Ritual Cubano

70cl, 37.50%
Havana Club

Havana Club's Ritual Cubano was originally released for the Spanish market, where you'll often see dark rum being mixed with Coke. As such, this particular expression was made to be mixed with said…  More info

Havana Club Ritual Cubano
$41.59

Takamaka Bay St André 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Takamaka Bay

Distilled in the sunny Seychelles, Takamaka Bay rum is brainchild of two brothers, Richard and Bernard d’Offay. The distillery was opened in 2002 to make rum according to their grandfather's recipe.…  More info

Takamaka Bay St André  8 Year Old Rum
1
$49.44

Old Monk The Legend

100cl, 42.80%
Mohan Meakin Brewery

From the Old Monk range produced by Mohan Meakin in India comes The Legend, a well-aged blended rum presented in a bottle supposedly shaped like the head of H.G. Meakin, the company's founder. Pretty…  More info

Old Monk The Legend
1
$84.00

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
1
$27.25

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Extra Dry

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

The producers recommend Flor de Caña Extra Dry as a mixing rum. It is a well-made expression and has won ten international awards, notably a Platinum Award and Gold medal at the 2003 International…  More info

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Extra Dry
1
$27.11

St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

The St. Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old Barbados rum is the first from the range which was distilled and aged entirely on the estate! Should be an fascinating tipple...  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old
$76.68

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
$28.77

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A handsomely packaged, beautiful little rum from El Dorado (one of our all-time favourites when it comes to Rum). This 5 year old Gold rum is fruity, rich and intensely buttery, and we have a feeling…  More info

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum
1
$28.77

Sparrow's Premium Aged Rum

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distilleries

Produced in Georgetown, St Vincent, Sparrow's is a tasty dark rum made from West Indian sugar cane and aged in oak barrels. Great value for money...  More info

Sparrow's Premium Aged Rum
2
$29.81

Old Salt Rum

50cl, 42%
English Vodka Company

The Old Salt Rum is one of very few rums to be produced in the United Kingdom and is made from a careful selection of molasses and raw sugar cane in Cambridge.  More info

Old Salt Rum
5
$39.19

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate Reserve no longer carries an 8 year old age statement, but is still an excellent dark rum that offers great value.  More info

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
$29.94

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum

70cl, 38.50%
Cargo Cult

Named for Melanesian beliefs held on remote islands that John Frum, probably a corruption of "John from..." (American serviceman having visited during the second World War bringing with them goods…  More info

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum
$40.98

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
$44.76

Compagnie Des Indes Rum Caraibes

70cl, 40%
Compagnie Des Indes

A blend of rums (the French label says "rhum", but this is molasses rum) from Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados, presented by Compagnie Des Indes. These have been aged between 3 to 5 years in American…  More info

Compagnie Des Indes Rum Caraibes
$41.57

Chamarel Single Barrel 2009

70cl, 45%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Limited edition 2009 vintage single French oak barrel rhum agricole from Mauritius, made with sugar cane from the best plantation of the Chamarel estate.  More info

Chamarel Single Barrel 2009
$178.91

Bacardi Superior 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A magnum of the classic Carta Blanca white rum from Bacardi. First created by Don Facundo Bacardi, a Spaniard who travelled to Cuba as a teenager.  More info

Bacardi Superior 1.5l
4
$62.45

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

From Dictador distillers in Colombia comes a rum which has been aged for 100 months in ex-bourbon barrels before being filtered though Arabica coffee beans - one of Colombia's many well know goods.…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum
$58.74

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