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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.

Santa Teresa Claro 1l

100cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A bigger bottle of Santa Teresa's top quality Claro white rum. This Venezuelan rum ages for around three years in American white oak casks before being filtered to remove the colour, but not the…  More info

Santa Teresa Claro 1l
$35.12

Santa Teresa Linaje

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An Extra Añejo Gran Reserva rum from Venezuelan producer Santa Teresa. Enjoy neat or is perfect over ice with mineral water or soda.  More info

Santa Teresa Linaje
$28.55

Santa Teresa Ron Selecto

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Venezuelan rum from Santa Teresa, this is a blend of rums aged for between 3 and 9 years. Ron Selecto makes a cracking Mojito…  More info

Santa Teresa Ron Selecto
$27.30

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

This is the 12 year old expression from Santiago de Cuba's range of rums. A well put-together expression from the Cuban distillers, plenty to enjoy here.  More info

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo
2
$54.16

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

Long-aged Cuban rum - yum yum yum... This is the 20 year old expression from the Santiago de Cuba range, named after the second largest city in Cuba. Not often seen on these shores, but very…  More info

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo
$136.99

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
$27.42

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

The Carta Blanca rum from Santiago de Cuba is a molasses-based rum which is initially aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling, removing the colour but not the flavour (making it a good choice…  More info

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca
$27.13

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

From the producers of Santiago de Cuba comes a treasure chest full of Cuban rum! The rum itself isn't just sloshing around in the chest - it comes presented in a vintage-looking ceramic decanter.  More info

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro
$628.22

Sarmiento Bembibre Ron Marimba Blanco - 1970s

100cl, 0%
Sarmiento Bembibre

A very hard-to-find bottle of white rum from the 1970s. This comes from Leon, Spain.  More info

Sarmiento Bembibre Ron Marimba Blanco - 1970s
$158.33

Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Seagram's

A rare 1960s bottling of Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum, made with rum from Guyana. Sadly the label has been torn at some point over the years...  More info

Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum - 1960s
$197.92

Six Saints Caribbean Rum

70cl, 41.70%
Six Saints Rum

Six Saints Caribbean Rum comes to us from Grenada after being aged in bourbon barrels and bottled at 41.7% ABV. Though Grenada is known as the 'Island of Spice', this isn't actually a spiced rum!…  More info

Six Saints Caribbean Rum
1
$43.83

Skipper Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Skipper

A delicious dark rum distilled in Guyana, Skipper was launched in 1930 and it still has the same label! A rich, thick spirit which works brilliantly well in cocktails, or with cola and a squeeze of…  More info

Skipper Demerara Rum
5
$20.70

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum

70cl, 57%
Smith and Cross

A Navy Strength edition of the classic Smith and Cross Jamaica rum, this stuff is beautiful for sipping neat, and works tremendously well with a couple of ice cubes and a squeeze of lime juice.  More info

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum
5
$35.88

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

75cl, 49.50%
Smooth Ambler

A marvellously impressive rum released by the chaps at Smooth Ambler out in West Virginia, USA. They've got a good nose for great spirits (as obvious from their Old Scout whiskey), and have bottled…  More info

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum
3
$76.91

Soldiers Bay Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Soldiers Bay

Soldiers Bay is a white rum from the last distillery remaining on the island of Antigua, in the West Indies. Suitable for all manner of rum-based cocktails, particularly the Daiquiri.  More info

Soldiers Bay Silver Rum
$29.33

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
$26.76

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project One - Caribbean Rum

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

A blend of three aged Caribbean rums, including well aged and younger rum, from German bottler Spirits of Old Man. Very well presented.  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project One - Caribbean Rum
$49.52

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Three - Dark Expression

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

The third release in the Rum Project range by German bottlers Spirits of Old Man is the Dark Expression, a blend of three Caribbean rums with a focus on rich notes of chocolate and coffee notes,…  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Three - Dark Expression
$49.52

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Two - Spiced Orange

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

Spirits of Old Man's Project Two is made from three rums aged between 4 and 14 years, with the younger rum adding spice and vitality to the richer, more complex older rums.  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Two - Spiced Orange
$49.52

St Aubin Blanc

50cl, 50%
St Aubin

St Aubin Rhum Agricole comes from Mauritius, and is made by distilling fresh sugar cane juice in the French method. St Aubin itself has been in the business of sugar production since 1819, and…  More info

St Aubin Blanc
1
$38.24

St Aubin Natural Spices Rhum Agricole

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

From the artisan St Aubin distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this spiced Rhum Agricole, made using sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses, which is what you would find in most other spiced…  More info

St Aubin Natural Spices Rhum Agricole
$27.96

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

St Aubin Agricole Rhum Vanilla is a delicious, laid back rum combined with vanilla grown on the St Aubin plantations in Mauritius. The sugary addition from the vanilla makes this an excellent rum for…  More info

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla
$29.83

St Lucia 14 Year Old 2000 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

Rum distilled in 2000 on the beautiful island of St Lucia, whose motto is the reassuring "The Land, The People, The Light". After a 14 year maturation, it was bottled in the UK by Berry Bros & Rudd.  More info

St Lucia 14 Year Old 2000 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$94.82

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Second Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

A special edition rum from St Lucia Distillers, named after the year that the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. In 1972, the Dennery Distillery merged with another to form St. Lucia…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Second Edition
$62.12

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Third Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

The third edition of fantastic St Lucian rum, released yearly to celebrate many years of rum distillation on the island. This release is named 1931 after the year the Dennery Distillery was founded.…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Third Edition
$59.90

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