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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.

Sunset Very Strong Rum

75cl, 84.50%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

An extremely high strength rum from Saint Vincent. This is distilled from molasses in a column still.  More info

Sunset Very Strong Rum
4
$48.24

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Herman Jansen

Holy Spirit Gold Label is an aged rum from Barbados, released by the chaps behind the Sweden Rock Festival. Plenty of creamy vanilla, tropical fruit and a touch of chocolate - enjoy in a cocktail,…  More info

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum
$47.79

Takamaka Bay Overproof Rum

70cl, 72%
Takamaka Bay

This is Takamaka bay's Overproof Rum, distilled in the Seychelles. As ever with overproof spirits, this should be well-diluted before enjoying - it ought to work wonderfully in mixed drinks and…  More info

Takamaka Bay Overproof Rum
$47.95

Takamaka Bay Spiced Rum

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Bay

A sweet, rich spiced rum from Takamaka Bay, produced in the Seychelles! You'll find plenty of vanilla and caramel notes here, so this is definitely one for those with a bit of a sweet tooth!  More info

Takamaka Bay Spiced Rum
2
$24.58

Takamaka Bay St André 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Takamaka Bay

Distilled in the sunny Seychelles, Takamaka Bay rum is brainchild of two brothers, Richard and Bernard d’Offay. The distillery was opened in 2002 to make rum according to their grandfather's recipe.…  More info

Takamaka Bay St André  8 Year Old Rum
1
$48.73

Takamaka Bay St André Rhum Vesou

70cl, 40%
Takamaka Bay

A rhum agricole from the Seychelles-based Takamaka Bay range, made with the juice of sugar cane grown on the island of Mahé. Very fresh with a touch of sweetness to it.  More info

Takamaka Bay St André Rhum Vesou
$43.98

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
$31.37

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum

70cl, 40%
The Duppy Share

In the whisky world, the angels take their share of whisky from the casks maturing it. In the Caribbean, it's the mischievous Duppy spirits that travel from island to island, taking their share of…  More info

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum
4
$35.56

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Kraken

An excellent spiced rum, with utterly brilliant packaging! This was launched in the UK in early 2010, and it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
51
$25.95

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

The 12 year old Real McCoy rum, matured in heavily charred bourbon barrels. Rich and oak-y, with bundles of Christmas cake, Demerara sugar and pipe tobacco notes. The 'Real McCoy' name is based on…  More info

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old
$52.84

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

This is a 3 year old rum from the Real McCoy range, which has been aged in American oak bourbon barrels before enjoying a filtration process to remove the colour imparted by the maturation, but not…  More info

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old
$29.29

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

5 year old rum from the Real McCoy range (which is named after what people supposedly used to call the spirits sold by Bill McCoy, legendary Prohibition-era smuggler). The rum spends its maturation…  More info

The Real McCoy 5 Year Old
$36.17

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)
$181.09

Tiburón Rum

75cl, 40%
Tiburón Rum

Tiburón Rum comes to us from Belize, and is made with a blend of aged rums which are treated to a second maturation in Kentucky oak bourbon barrels. Rich and sweet with plenty of vanilla caramel and…  More info

Tiburón Rum
5
$44.10

Tilambic 151 Overproof Rum

70cl, 75.50%
Green Island

A high strength Mauritian rum, which is aged in oak for up to 7 years before being bottled at an eye-watering 75.5% ABV. Intense with dried fruits and plenty of spice. As with all high-strength…  More info

Tilambic 151 Overproof Rum
$67.79

Tondeña Manila Rum - 1970s

75cl, 40%
La Tondeña

An ancient bottle of Tondeña Manila Rum, which is produced in the Philippines. We believe that this rare bottle was made in the 1970s.  More info

Tondeña Manila Rum - 1970s
$173.90

Toz White Gold (St. Lucia)

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

One of them fancy white rums that's actually aged and filtered so it can be used in cocktails without affecting the colour! This one is made at the St. Lucia distillery and is aged an average of…  More info

Toz White Gold (St. Lucia)
$57.84

Travellers Distillery 10 Year Old 2005 Belize Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Travellers Distillery

A single cask rum from the Travellers Distillery in Belize, bottled by Hunter Laing for their excellent Kill Devil range. It was distilled in 2005 and bottled at 10 years old, with 377 bottles…  More info

Travellers Distillery 10 Year Old 2005 Belize Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$59.75

Trinidad Original Dark Plantation Rum

70cl, 40%
Plantation

Produced in Trinidad and Tobago, this is a youthful blend of young dark rums aged in bourbon casks and bottled by the Plantation company. A light, elegant spirit.  More info

Trinidad Original Dark Plantation Rum
$31.56

Trinidad Rum 24 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

A 24 year old rum from Nicaragua, from an undisclosed distillery and drawn from a single cask. This has been bottled by the folks at Hunter Laing as part of their Kill Devil range. 350 bottles were…  More info

Trinidad Rum 24 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$139.22

Trois Rivieres VSOP

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

The Trois Rivieres VSOP expression is allowed to mature for at least 5 years, resulting in a well flavoured, rich rhum agricole. This comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.  More info

Trois Rivieres VSOP
$58.62

Trois Rivières 12 Year Old Rum

70cl, 42%
Trois Rivieres

Here's a treat. 12 year old rhum agricole from Trois Rivières in Martinique!  More info

Trois Rivières 12 Year Old Rum
$113.51

Trois Rivières 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 42%
Trois Rivieres

A rare and delicious 8 year old Rhum Agricole from the Martinique-based Trois Rivières. Very rich and evocative.  More info

Trois Rivières 8 Year Old Rum
$86.96

Trois Rivières Ambré Rum

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

A smart and very tasty gold rhum agricole from the Martinique-based Trois Rivières. This is an affable, quaffable spirit distilled from fresh sugar cane juice. Great value for money and stunning in…  More info

Trois Rivières Ambré Rum
$36.42

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum

70cl, 50%
Trois Rivieres

A tangy, punchy white rhum agricole made in Martinique by the legendary Trois Rivières. Loads of flavour here, this works really well in white rum cocktails such as a Daiquiri of a Mojito.  More info

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum
$36.53

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