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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.

Ron Los Valientes 15 Year Old

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A fascinating 15 year old rum made up of a blend of 70% double pot-distilled sugar cane juice and 30% column still molasses rum. It was aged in old American oak barrels and named after the heroes of…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 15 Year Old
$36.75

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old

50cl, 43%
Licores Veracruz

Named for the heroes of the Mexican revolution, with 'Los Valientes' meaning 'the valiant' or 'the brave', this is the oldest release in the series at 20 years old. The rum itself is unusually made…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old
$48.88

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
$46.69

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A Magnum bottling of very well-aged rum from Peruvian producer, Ron Millonario. If you've not tried Peruvian rum before, well, this would be a very good place to start. Masses of sweet, well-rounded…  More info

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)
1
$223.48

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A superb old rum from Peru, Ron Millonario made this XO from molasses and distil it in column stills before maturation in American white oak barrels. The result is a smooth, sweet, creamy sippin' rum.  More info

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial
7
$92.20

Ron Montero Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

The Ron Montero distillery sits on the south coast of Granada, where it has been making Spanish rum since 1963. This is their Gran Reserva expression, which sits on the "Spicier" side of aged rums…  More info

Ron Montero Gran Reserva
$36.00

Ron Montero Plata

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Montero

A platinum rum from Rum Montero, founded in 1963 by an established sugar cane growing family in Motril, Granada.  More info

Ron Montero Plata
$22.54

Ron Mulata Añejo 5 Years

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

5 year old Cuban rum distilled in Heriberto Duquesne, Villa Clara. They characteristically produce a lighter style of rum (which the distillery attributed to the rum being matured in 180 litre oak…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 5 Years
1
$24.53

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old
$26.72

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

Sugar cane rhum from Ron Palma Mulata de Cuba aged for three whole years in American oak before being bottled as a blanco 'reserva'.  More info

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old
$22.43

Ron Pampero Aniversario

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

A delicious dark rum from Ron Pampero, this is made in continuous stills in Venezuela. It's full, rich and very fruity.  More info

Ron Pampero Aniversario
9
$32.99

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

Deep, intense rum from Venezuelan producer Pampero. Superb sipping rum.  More info

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial
4
$22.67

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Pampero

A crisp, fruity white rum produced in Venezuela by Ron Pampero. Aged for at least 2 years (as is the law in the country for all rum), this is a smooth, premium spirit which works well in cocktails,…  More info

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum
$19.88

Ron Quorhum 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

12 year old rum from the Dominican Republic, released under the Ron Quorhum brand by Oliver & Oliver. A sweet, subtly herbal expression, packed with notes of caramel, liquorice and oak-y resin.  More info

Ron Quorhum 12 Year Old
$40.66

Ron Quorhum 30 Anniversario

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

Solera aged in bourbon barrels, this is a luxurious pot still Dominican rum.  More info

Ron Quorhum 30 Anniversario
$72.06

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old

70cl, 37.50%
Caldas

An 8 year old rum from the Colombian brand, Ron Viejo De Caldas. It spends 8 years maturing in used bourbon barrels before it's bottled. While it has been bottled at 37.5% ABV, it still shows off a…  More info

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old
$32.61

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años

70cl, 40%
Ron Vigia

18 year old Cuban rum from the Ron Vigia range. Rich and inviting with notes of thick molasses, tobacco leaf and dark chocolate.  More info

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años
$80.37

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23

70cl, 40%
Ron Zacapa

A firm favourite here at the Master of Malt, this is a truly superb Guatemalan rum, blended using the solera system. Sublime stuff. This was matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. The Beverage…  More info

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23
30
$57.18

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra 1l

100cl, 43%
Ron Zacapa

A 1 litre bottling of Ron Zacapa's Edición Negra, which was originally released for the Travel Retail market. This has been aged in double charred American oak barrels, resulting in smoky elements…  More info

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra 1l
$103.87

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Zacapa

The stunning special release from Zacapa. This Guatemalan classic won Gold at the International Rum Festival, and won the Platinum award in the Super-Premium category in 2002. This is an incredible…  More info

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial
12
$90.79

Ronrico White Label - 1960s

76cl, 40%
Ronrico

White Label white rum from the Ronrico brand, produced in Puerto Rico in the 1960s. The label has suffered a fair bit of damage, but this remains very collectible indeed.  More info

Ronrico White Label - 1960s
$196.68

Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old 1990

70cl, 45%
Rum Nation

Beautifully aged rum from Italian bottler Rum Nation, finished in a Sherry cask.  More info

Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old 1990
$115.53

Rum Nation Panama 18 Year Old (2014 Release)

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

An 18 year old rum from Panama, bottled by the Italian company Rum Nation. A complex rum, rich with tannic notes from the cask, dried fruits and an elegant nuttiness.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 18 Year Old (2014 Release)
$60.08

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

Panamanian rum from Rum Nation. Not Zombie Nation. That's something different.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old
$101.41

Rumbullion!

70cl, 42.60%
Ableforth's

A sure-fire hit from Ableforth's, Rumbullion! is a cockle-warming spiced concoction, based on the kind of rich, full-bodied rums the seafaring fraternity would have enjoyed centuries ago.At the core…  More info

Rumbullion!
40
$39.28

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