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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.

Chairman's Reserve White Label

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

From the Chairman's Reserve range comes the White Label rum, which was actually aged in American white oak barrels for two to four years. Afterwards, it was filtered to remove the colour, but not the…  More info

Chairman's Reserve White Label
$21.11

Chamarel Premium White Rum

70cl, 42%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single estate Mauritian white rum, made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses. Although unaged, it is regularly stirred in stainless steel vats for at least six months prior to bottling, a…  More info

Chamarel Premium White Rum
2
$28.25

Chamarel Single Barrel 2009

70cl, 45%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Limited edition 2009 vintage single French oak barrel rhum agricole from Mauritius, made with sugar cane from the best plantation of the Chamarel estate.  More info

Chamarel Single Barrel 2009
$153.05

Chamarel VS Rum

70cl, 40%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

This is the VS expression of Chamarel rhum agricole, distilled in Mauritius using sugarcane which they cultivate themselves.  More info

Chamarel VS Rum
$42.92

Chamarel VSOP 4 Year Old Rum

70cl, 44%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole from south-western Mauritius, aged in oak barrels for 4 years prior to careful blending on site. Expect fresh vanilla, sweet stone fruit and dried grass notes from this…  More info

Chamarel VSOP 4 Year Old Rum
8
$47.16

Chamarel XO Rum

70cl, 43%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole aged for 6 years in French oak, Charamel XO is a family favourite for the producer.  More info

Chamarel XO Rum
$73.32

Clairin Sajous 2013

70cl, 53.5%
Distillerie Chelo

A Haitian style of rhum agricole here from the Clairin Sajous, made using sugar cane juice which has been reduced over fires of the remains of the sugar cane and fermented using wild yeasts (a bit…  More info

Clairin Sajous 2013
$47.17

Clarke's Court Pure Jab White Rum

75cl, 55%
Clarke's Court

Over proof white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada, presented in a plastic bottle. At 55% ABV, this would be well suited to use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Clarke's Court Pure Jab White Rum
$35.89

Clarke's Court Special Dark Rum

75cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This is a dark rum from Clarkes Court which is aged in ex-Bourbon casks to give it it's amber hue and oaky flavour.  More info

Clarke's Court Special Dark Rum
$30.74

Clarkes Court Black Gold

75cl, 46%
Grenada Distillers

Clarkes Court Black Gold is made by infusing top-quality Grenadian rum with nutmeg, which is a very important and valued spice in Grenada - it even appears on their flag!  More info

Clarkes Court Black Gold
$68.17

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
$41.86

Clarkes Court Superior Light Rum

75cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This is a light and mellow, gold medal winning white rum from Clarkes Court.  More info

Clarkes Court Superior Light Rum
$27.19

Clement Canne Bleue

70cl, 50%
Clément

A non-vintage ongoing release of Clément's single varietal rhum agricole from Martinique.  More info

Clement Canne Bleue
$33.40

Clément 10 Year Old

70cl, 42%
Clément

A very rich, decadent expression from the Clément collection of marvellous Martinique rhum agricole. After spending 10 years in a selectin of re-charred and virgin oak barrels, this has taken on…  More info

Clément 10 Year Old
$69.02

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole

70cl, 42%
Clément

Don't miss out on the first Clément 15 Year Old, a fine rhum agricole which a huge proportion lost to 'the angels' share'!  More info

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole
$116.69

Clément 8 Year Old 2005 (cask 20100201) - Single Cask

50cl, 41.6%
Clément

Single cask 8 year old Rhum Agricole from Clément, aged in a bourbon cask from October 2005 to June 2014. Only 497 bottles were release - very interesting Martinican rhum right here...  More info

Clément 8 Year Old 2005 (cask 20100201) - Single Cask
$45.10

Clément Blanc Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
Clément

An unaged rhum agricole produced by Martinque in Clément. Intense, herbal and works well in cocktails.  More info

Clément Blanc Rhum Agricole
$24.04

Clément Rhum Agricole - 125th Anniversary Edition by JonOne

70cl, 40%
Clément

A special edition of four year old Rhum Agricole, produced by Martinique distillers, Clément, in celebration of their 125th anniversary. The bottle was designed by famous street artist JonOne and is…  More info

Clément Rhum Agricole - 125th Anniversary Edition by JonOne
$52.01

Clément Rhum Ambré

70cl, 40%
Clément

A simple, fragrant, grassy rhum agricole from Marinique distillers, Clément. After spending 12 months in oak casks, the Rhum Ambré ready to be enjoyed in cocktails or over ice.  More info

Clément Rhum Ambré
$24.60

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel

70cl, 40%
Clément

To achieve the depth of flavour and wonderful mouth-feel for their Select Barrel Rhum Vieux Agricole, the Clément distillers in Martinique choose only the finest casks to create the expression with.…  More info

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel
$36.08

Clément VSOP

70cl, 40%
Clément

Clément VSOP is a rhum agricole, matured for a year in virgin French oak barrels, before a three maturation in re-charred bourbon barrels. This was awarded a Gold by the Beverage Tasting Institute…  More info

Clément VSOP
$42.62

Clément XO Rhum Agricole

70cl, 44%
Clément

This Martinique rhum agricole from Clément is a premium release for the brand, featuring vintages that date back to the 1970s and even one that goes back to the 1950s, among other younger vintages.…  More info

Clément XO Rhum Agricole
$170.74

Cockspur Five Star

70cl, 37.5%
Cockspur

A Bajan rum aged in American white oak barrels before blending. Cockspur is buttery and spicy.  More info

Cockspur Five Star
2
$24.54

Compagnie Des Indes Rum Caraibes

70cl, 40%
Compagnie Des Indes

A blend of rums (the French label says "rhum", but this is molasses rum) from Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados, presented by Compagnie Des Indes. These have been aged between 3 to 5 years in American…  More info

Compagnie Des Indes Rum Caraibes
$35.56

Cor Cor Green - Okinawan Rum

70cl, 40%
Grace Rum

The sugar cane which is pressed and distilled to make the rum is grown on the island of Okinawa. Plenty of up-front, intense fruit notes (think apricot, pear and melon), with classic agricole grassy…  More info

Cor Cor Green - Okinawan Rum
$74.54

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