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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.

Doorly's XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

A six year old blend of rums from Barbados, Doorly's XO is finished in an Oloroso sherry cask, which adds a lovely character.  More info

Doorly's XO Rum
14
$31.56

Doorlys 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

This white rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados is perfect for a variety of rum-based cocktails.  More info

Doorlys 3 Year Old
$24.62

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
$27.49

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
$24.97

The Rum Advent Calendar (2015 Edition)

72cl, 41.80%
Drinks by the Dram

You may not have given it much thought before, but imagine what would happen if you swapped Santa's hat for a pirate's hat. It would kind of suit him, wouldn't it? Now swap that prosthetic hand for…  More info

The Rum Advent Calendar (2015 Edition)
$165.28

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Añejo Gran Reserva is a superb Venezuelan rum aged in oak for up to 5 years. Santa Teresa recommend this in cocktails, and it is notable for its delicious aroma.  More info

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva
2
$21.86

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
1
$49.55

Sailor Jerry

70cl, 40%
Sailor Jerry

A spiced rum created by the famed tattoo artist 'Sailor Jerry' Collins. This is perhaps our favourite spiced rum, makes an incredible spiced mojito! The recipe was recently changed, and made slightly…  More info

Sailor Jerry
79
$22.17

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
$26.33

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc 1l

100cl, 59%
Distillerie Bielle

A 1 litre bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum Bielle on the small island of Marie-Galante, which you'll find just south of Guadeloupe. Bottled at 59% ABV, this is an intense rhum, packed with…  More info

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc 1l
$48.00

Opthimus 15 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

An excellent Solera-aged rum from the Opthimus range, produced by Oliver y Oliver.  More info

Opthimus 15 Rum
$49.69

Takamaka Bay White Rum

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Bay

A white rum from the Seychelles-based Takamaka Bay rum range. Crisp and subtly sweet, this'll make the perfect base for cocktails and mixed drinks...  More info

Takamaka Bay White Rum
$28.64

East London Liquor Company Navy Strength Demerara Rum

70cl, 57%
East London Liquor Company

A higher-strength bottling of East London Liquor Company's Demerara rum from Guyana, which is distilled in a two column Coffey still. At Navy Strength, this is sure to stand out in cocktails and…  More info

East London Liquor Company Navy Strength Demerara Rum
$61.68

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend

70cl, 43%
Ron Barceló

A limited edition bottling of Ron Barceló, created in celebration of 30 years production. Every year since 1980, Miguel Barceló has set aside private reserves of his rum for two extra years of…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend
1
$85.74

Matugga Golden Rum

70cl, 42%
Matugga

Matugga Golden Rum is made using sugar cane molasses produced in East Africa, using canes grown in rich, red soils. The rum is distilled in copper pot stills in the UK, and enjoys its maturation in…  More info

Matugga Golden Rum
4
$44.03

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
$59.47

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Jefferson's

Jefferson's 1785 is a rich, enjoyable and good value for money dark rum, perfect for mixing and sipping over ice. Of course, it's named after one of the American Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.  More info

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum
$34.92

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez

70cl, 40%
Williams & Humbert

A 'double aged' rum, although it could be considered to be triple aged. Rums from Barbados and Guyana are matured for five years in the Caribbean before being transported to Jerez where they are…  More info

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez
3
$45.09

Clément Canne Bleue 2014

70cl, 50%
Clément

A single varietal rhum agricole - not something you see every day, is it? This is the 2014 vintage, made by Clément in Martinique using juice exclusively with a variety of sugar cane known as Canne…  More info

Clément Canne Bleue 2014
$38.09

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 7 year old rum from Panama made by Varela-Hermanos. Ron Abuelo is made using distillery grown sugar cane and is aged in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old
3
$28.05

Westerhall No.3 Rum

70cl, 40%
Westerhall

The entry-level expression from Westerhall Estate's range, which was redesigned in mid-2016, is their Westerhall Rum No.3 (which replaces the Westerhall Superb Light). An elegant, sweet rum from…  More info

Westerhall No.3 Rum
$28.35

Angostura 12 Year Old "1824"

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A top quality rum hand selected by the master blender from select casks at Angostura. This is matured in American oak bourbon barrels for at least 12 years when it is blended and re-casked. It offers…  More info

Angostura 12 Year Old
6
$60.06

Desilver White Rum

70cl, 40%
DeSilver

White spiced rum? Now I've seen everything! That's right, the DeSilver White Rum is made with a selection of "secret spices" from St. Barth and carries a story about the pirate named DeSilver from…  More info

Desilver White Rum
$30.81

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
$26.94

Clément 8 Year Old (cask 20100200) - Single Cask

50cl, 41.60%
Clément

A splendid single cask bottling of Clément rhum agricole, matured in a bourbon cask for 8 years, from October 2005 to June 2014. It was bottled at 41.6% ABV with an outturn of just 507 bottles. Top…  More info

Clément 8 Year Old (cask 20100200) - Single Cask
$52.86

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