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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.

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
$44.72

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
$179.14

Cockspur Five Star

70cl, 37.50%
Cockspur

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

Cockspur Five Star
3
$18.63

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
$37.31

Cor Cor Green - Okinawan Rum

70cl, 40%
Grace Rum

While Cor Cor Green is a Japanese rum made with freshly pressed sugar cane, Cor Cor Red is a classic, molasses-based rum produced on the island of Minamidaitojima, which is located to the south of…  More info

Cor Cor Green - Okinawan Rum
$78.20

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum

70cl, 40%
Grace Rum

While Cor Cor Green is a Japanese rum made with freshly pressed sugar cane, Cor Cor Red is a classic, molasses-based rum produced on the island of Minamidaitojima, south of the main islands which…  More info

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum
$62.94

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s

The Ru

A Jamaican white rum with a highly questionable character on the neck of the bottle. The rum itself should be less questionable though. Please note that the label does not state the volume or ABV…  More info

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s
$158.33

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.50%
The Rum Company

A simple white Jamaican rum from the Coruba range - good for cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum
$26.15

Courville Martinique Rhum - 1970s

75cl, 45%
Stock

A very rare bottle of Courville Martinique Rhum, produced for the Italian company Stock back in the 1970s. An, elegant, classy piece of rum history, right here.  More info

Courville Martinique Rhum - 1970s
$158.33

Cubaney Exquisito 21 Year Old 1988 - Grand Reserve X.O.

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

This is the Ron Cubaney Exquisito, a richly flavoursome rum from the Dominican Republic which has enjoyed a lengthy amount of time maturing in a Solera system. Really excellent stuff, this.  More info

Cubaney Exquisito 21 Year Old 1988 - Grand Reserve X.O.
$54.93

Cuvée Homère Clément

70cl, 44%
Clément

A stunning expression from Clément, made from well-aged, specially selected vintages of rhum argicole from the Martinique distiller's stocks. The name itself comes from the founder of the distillery,…  More info

Cuvée Homère Clément
$107.71

Dark Matter Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Dark Matter

The first release from Scotland's Dark Matter Distillers is Dark Matter Spiced Rum - very exciting stuff! Created in Banchory by two brothers, Jim and John Ewen, Dark Matter Spiced Rum is a…  More info

Dark Matter Spiced Rum
23
$37.38

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 (cask 6) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 52.30%
Darsa Distillery

A single cask rum from the Darsa distillery in Guatemala, bottled by Duncan Taylor. It was distilled in July 2007 and bottled in February 2016 with an outturn of 298 bottles.  More info

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 (cask 6) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$52.54

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 Guatemalan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Darsa Distillery

A single cask rum from the home of Ron Zacapa and Ron Botran, distilled from a fermented 'honey' made from condensed sugar cane. The outturn from this single cask was 333 bottles.  More info

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 Guatemalan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$47.10

Deadhead 6 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Deadhead Rum

Deadhead is a 6 year old rum in a bottle shaped like a shrunken head, known as a Tsantsa, a trophy kept from a defeated enemy. Unique doesn't even cut it, as far as this bottle goes. The rum itself…  More info

Deadhead 6 Year Old Rum
1
$54.37

Demerara Distillers 13 Year Old - Guyana Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Demerara Distillers Limited

Another molasses rum from French independent bottlers Compagnie Des Indes, this time distilled at Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana (the Port Mourant still) and aged for 13 years in a single…  More info

Demerara Distillers 13 Year Old - Guyana Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$68.45

Desilver White Rum

70cl, 40%
DeSilver

White spiced rum? Now I've seen everything! That's right, the DeSilver White Rum is made with a selection of "secret spices" from St. Barth and carries a story about the pirate named DeSilver from…  More info

Desilver White Rum
$30.73

Diamond Distillery 2002 (cask 6) Guyana Single Barrel Rum - The Rum Swedes (Svenska Eldvatten)

70cl, 61%
Diamond Distillery

Guyanese rum from the Diamond distillery using their Port Mourant wooden double pot still. The rum was distilled in 2002 and matured in a bourbon barrel until 2013 when it was bottled by the Rum…  More info

Diamond Distillery 2002 (cask 6) Guyana Single Barrel Rum  - The Rum Swedes (Svenska Eldvatten)
1
$86.29

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Part of the Dictador 100 Months range, this is the Amber expression, which is aged for 100 months (hence the name) in ex-bourbon barrels before it is bottled. It's a yummy Colombian rum well suited…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum
1
$38.44

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

From Dictador distillers in Colombia comes a rum which has been aged for 100 months in ex-bourbon barrels before being filtered though Arabica coffee beans - one of Colombia's many well know goods.…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum
$40.63

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador 100 Months Claro Rum is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for... well... 100 months. Following this, the Claro is filtered to remove its colour but not the flavour, resulting in a…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum
$38.44

Dictador 100 Months Aged Orange Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Interesting spiced rum from Colombian distillers, Dictador. They use an aged rum as a base, one that has been aged for 100 months (or 8.33333... years, if you prefer) in ex-bourbon casks before…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Orange Rum
1
$40.63

Dictador 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Produced in Colombia, this delicious Solera rum from Dictador, aged for between 8 and 14 years, with an average age of 12 years. The rum is diluted to bottling strength with demineralised water which…  More info

Dictador 12 Year Old
4
$38.77

Dictador Insolent XO

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador Insolent XO Rum is produced in Columbia and aged in a selection of casks - ex-bourbon, ex-Sherry and Port casks were used to create this sweet, spicy, mocha-rich rum.  More info

Dictador Insolent XO
$85.98

Dictador Solera XO Perpetual

70cl, 40%
Dictador

A premium Columbian Solera rum from Dictador, complete with their European design and Japanese bottles. This XO release is aged in the finest oak casks and brought down to 40% abv with demineralised…  More info

Dictador Solera XO Perpetual
3
$82.41

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