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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.

Rhum J.M XO

70cl, 45%
Rhum J.M

Rhum agricole from Martinique, Rhum JM XO is made on the north of the island, in the foothills of Montagne Pelee, a volcano. The rum is distilled in column distilled and aged in oak for over 10 years.  More info

Rhum J.M XO
$73.28

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%)
$42.99

Rhum Rhum PMG (56%)

70cl, 56%
Rhum Rhum

A higher-ABV edition of Rhum Rhum PMG, produced on the small island of Marie Galante (just off the coast of Guadeloupe) by Distillerie Bielle. Really impressive stuff, well worth a look for rhum…  More info

Rhum Rhum PMG (56%)
$49.20

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
$71.62

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
$61.60

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
$119.30

Rives Conde De Cuba

70cl, 37.50%
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
$25.08

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
5
$34.93

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
$27.50

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
$25.50

Ron Abuelo Centuria

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A rare rum blend made in Panama, Ron Abuelo Centuria is aged in Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels in the solera method. Some of the rums are as old as 30 years, and the flavour is astonishingly rich and…  More info

Ron Abuelo Centuria
8
$132.64

Ron Aguere Oro

70cl, 37.50%
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
$22.53

Ron Aguere White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
San Bartolomé de Tejina

Blanco sugar cane rhum from the Canary Islands "a rum for people who live life passionately", we're told.  More info

Ron Aguere White Rum
$21.64

Ron Arecha Extra de Jose Arechabala - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Jose Arechabala

This is a rare bottle of Ron Arecha Extra de Jose Arechabala, produced in the 1960s. If the name Jose Arechabala is familiar to you, that is because it is the name behind Havana Club! Please be…  More info

Ron Arecha Extra de Jose Arechabala - 1960s
$233.38

Ron Artemi Etiqueta Plata - 1960s

99cl, 40%
Artemi

White rum produced in the 1960s by Spanish distillers Artemi. A rare anyique from over 40 years ago.  More info

Ron Artemi Etiqueta Plata - 1960s
$233.38

Ron Barceló Añejo

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

Lovely golden/dark rum from the Dominican Republic, Ron Barceló Añejo works well in cocktails, or on the rocks.  More info

Ron Barceló Añejo
1
$22.42

Ron Barceló Blanco

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

A white rum from the Ron Barceló range, produced in the Dominican Republic. It spends one year in oak barrels, before it is barrelled, allowing it to develop some more character and flavour.  More info

Ron Barceló Blanco
$23.68

Ron Barceló Gran Platinum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

The Gran Platinum rum from Dominican Republic producer Ron Barceló is made with rum aged in bourbon barrels, which is then filtered to remove the colour, but not the flavour. The result is rich in…  More info

Ron Barceló Gran Platinum
$21.55

Ron Barceló Imperial

70cl, 38%
Ron Barceló

An excellent Dominican rum, Barceló Imperial was awarded a Gold Medal and also the coveted "Best In Category" title at the 2008 International Cane Spirits Festival. This is aged for between 4 and 10…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial
10
$33.31

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
$84.04

Ron Botran Añejo 12

70cl, 40%
Botran

A blend of delicious Guatemalan rums between 5 and 12 years old.  More info

Ron Botran Añejo 12
$28.82

Ron Botran Solera 1893 18

70cl, 40%
Botran

A rich, warming Guatemalan rum from the Ron Botran selection. Sitting at the top of their range, this features rum aged up to 18 years in a Solera system with American oak, Sherry and Port casks.  More info

Ron Botran Solera 1893 18
$41.33

Ron Calados Dark Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Calados

Made from Caribbean rum, Ron Calados dark rum is a value for money mixing product.  More info

Ron Calados Dark Rum
$15.79

Ron Calados White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Calados

A white rum from the Caribbean, Ron Calados is a cheap and cheerful white rum which is intended for mixing with strongly flavoured drinks like finest cola…  More info

Ron Calados White Rum
$17.67

Ron Caney Añejo - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Ron Caney

A bottle of Ron Caney Añejo, produced in the 1960s. This brand of Cuban rum is still around today, and has been making rum for over 150 years.  More info

Ron Caney Añejo - 1960s
$259.31

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