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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.

Reserve Rum of Nicaragua 2002 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Compania Licorera de Nicaragua

This is Bristol Spirits' Reserve Rum of Nicaragua, which was distilled in column stills at Compania Licorera de Nicaragua (the same place that Flor de Caña is produced). It was distilled in 2002 and…  More info

Reserve Rum of Nicaragua 2002 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits
$46.39

Revolver Rum

70cl, 40%
Rathlee

Revolver Rum is the first release from the Rathlee Distilling Company! It's inspired by the blending of two very different cultures - the Colombian city of Bogotá (the largest city on Colombia, we'll…  More info

Revolver Rum
$39.93

Rhum Bielle 2002 (bottled 2014)

70cl, 52%
Distillerie Bielle

A tasty 2002 vintage rhum agricole from Distillerie Bielle on the island of Marie-Galante, just south of Guadeloupe. A rather spicy expression, this...  More info

Rhum Bielle 2002 (bottled 2014)
$488.55

Rhum de Père Labat - Rhum Doré

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

Golden rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, distilled on the island of Marie-Galante, south of Guadeloupe. Made from fermented sugar cane juice, resulting in an intense flavour profile, highlighted…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat - Rhum Doré
$37.15

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a 3 year old rhum agricole, distilled for Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, using fresh sugar cane juice. Oodles of fruity, floral notes (this grapefruit, mango and…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux
$51.94

Rhum de Père Labat 40

70cl, 40%
Rhum de Père Labat

A blanc rhum agricole from Père Labat, bottled at 40% ABV. This flavoursome rhum, made with the juice of pressed sugar canes, comes from Marie-Galante, an island just south of Guadeloupe.  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 40
$22.86

Rhum de Père Labat 50

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

A 50% ABV bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, produced on the island of Marie-Galante, which is located just south of Guadeloupe. At 50% ABV, this will stand out in cocktails…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 50
$31.74

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

Distilled for the Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, just south of Guadeloupe, this rhum agricole spends 8 years maturing in oak before it is bottled. Rich, simmering spices abound!…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux
$97.42

Rhum de Père Labat Cuvée Spéciale

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

A refreshing, fruity rhum agricole from the Marie-Galante-based Rhum de Père Labat. Should be delicious on a warm evening enjoyed over ice...  More info

Rhum de Père Labat Cuvée Spéciale
$53.31

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
$40.35

Rhum J.M Vintage 2000 (bottled 2016)

70cl, 41.9%
Rhum J.M

This bottling of Martinican rhum agricole from Rhum J.M was made exclusively with spirits distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2016! A rather lengthy maturation for a rhum agricole, and we're very…  More info

Rhum J.M Vintage 2000 (bottled 2016)
$181.20

Rhum J.M Vintage 2003

70cl, 44.8%
Rhum J.M

2003 vintage rhum agricole from Martinique. Rhum J.M vintages are usually aged for around 10 years, with this release having actually been aged for 11 years in re-charred bourbon barrels.  More info

Rhum J.M Vintage 2003
$97.91

Rhum J.M White

70cl, 50%
Rhum J.M

A white Rhum Agricole from Martinique. Rhum JM offers an intense aroma of pepper, floral notes and tropical fruit, with a sweet, warming palate with loads of flavour.  More info

Rhum J.M White
$37.63

Rhum Rhum PMG (41%)

70cl, 41%
Rhum Rhum

Rhum Rhum PMG comes to us from the island of Marie Galante, which is just off the coast of Guadeloupe. A rhum agricole made using some intriguing sugar cane varieties and using traditional techniques…  More info

Rhum Rhum PMG (41%)
$41.44

Rhum St Barth Chic

70cl, 40%
St. Barth

This is a rich spicy rhum agricole from the West Indies. Enjoy neat or in an exciting cocktail concoction.  More info

Rhum St Barth Chic
$47.85

Rhum St Barth Cool

70cl, 50%
St. Barth

This white rum is bottled at 50% abv let has a smooth and deliciously sweet flavour to it that can be added to a variety of punches and cocktails.  More info

Rhum St Barth Cool
$30.79

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a rhum agricole from the Père Labat range, distilled on the small island of Marie-Galante in 1997. Bottled at 42% ABV, this ought to be rather rich and flavoursome expression, packed with the…  More info

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997
$114.98

Rives Conde De Cuba

70cl, 37.5%
Rives

A dark Caribbean rum from Spanish producer, Rives. Expet notes of caramel, vanilla toffees and a waft of floral fragrance.  More info

Rives Conde De Cuba
$24.17

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 12 year old dark rum from Ron Abuelo of Panama. They age their rum in whiskey barrels, which adds a distinct vanilla sweetnses. This 12 year old was launched in 2009, and is elegant, slightly smoky…  More info

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old
6
$33.67

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
2
$26.50

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 5 year old Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo. It is made at Varela-Hermanos, which is a third generation family distillery that grows its own sugar cane and ages its rum in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial
$24.58

Ron Abuelo XV - Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

An interesting expression from Panamanian Rum range Ron Abuelo - a well-aged expression which has been given a finishing period in casks that previously contained Napoleon Cognac! Ought to be a…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish
$69.16

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo's Finish Collection, which has been given a finishing period in Oloroso Sherry casks! This'll be very interesting to taste alongside the other expressions in the range,…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
$69.16

Ron Abuelo XV - Tawny Port Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

Port-cask finished, well-aged Panamanian rum? Yum yum yum! This comes to us via Ron Abuelo's Finish Collection, which features rums finished in Sherry and Cognac casks alongside this delicious treat.  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Tawny Port Cask Finish
$69.16

Ron Aguere Oro

70cl, 37.5%
San Bartolomé de Tejina

Distilled from pure sugar cane juices as opposed to molasses, Ron Aguere Oro is produced and aged on the Canary Islands with delicious cocktails in mind.  More info

Ron Aguere Oro
$21.72

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