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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.

Bristol Spirits Collective Port of Bristol Honey Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Bristol Spirits Collective

Here we have a Honey Rum, courtesy of the folks over in the West Country at Bristol Spirits Collective! It marries the deliciousness of honey and rum, which we're big fans of. We assume the Rear…  More info

Bristol Spirits Collective Port of Bristol Honey Rum
3
$33.37

British West Indies - Remarkable Regional Rums (West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants)

70cl, 43%
West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants

For this expression from the West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants Remarkable Regional Rums range, they used a blend of rums from Barbados and Trinidad, two incredible well-respected rum producing…  More info

British West Indies - Remarkable Regional Rums (West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants)
$35.59

Brittains Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 37.5%
Brittains

All the way from Doncaster comes a spiced rum spirit drink produced as part of the Brittains range. Made with a combination of rums from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, combined with a selection…  More info

Brittains Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
$29.68

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar

70cl, 40%
Brugal

High-quality Dominican rum from the Brugal range, which is double distilled then matured in American oak barrels. After a lengthy maturation is the aforementioned barrels, the rum then enjoys a…  More info

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar
2
$40.87
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Brugal Añejo

70cl, 38%
Brugal

Brugal Anejo is a 5 year old Dominican rum. The company was founded by Andrés Brugal Montaner. The majority of the board members are actually descendants of Montaner.  More info

Brugal Añejo
15
$18.44
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Brugal Extra Viejo

70cl, 38%
Brugal

An extra-aged rum from very highly respected Dominican producer Brugal.  More info

Brugal Extra Viejo
6
$28.48

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial Extra Dry Rum

70cl, 40%
Brugal

Classic white rum from Dominican producers, Brugal, which is aged for at least one year to mellow out some of the overly intense qualities of rum straight from the still. This tasty rum is no…  More info

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial Extra Dry Rum
1
$20.03
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B Rum

70cl, 40%
West Midlands Distillery

A deliciously smooth and tropical white rum here, originally distilled in Guyana before arriving with the folks at the West Midlands Distillery, who re-distilled it in a pair of copper stills named…  More info

B Rum
$35.90

Bullion Rum

70cl, 40%
Bullion Rum

No, this isn't a gold bar, nor is it a Gold Bar (that classic chocolate and biscuit bar), it is in fact a bottle of spiced rum! Bullion Rum features a secret selection of herbs and spiced, alongside…  More info

Bullion Rum
24
$50.27
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Bumbu Original

70cl, 40%
Bumbu

Here we have a higher strength bottling of the Original expression from Bumbu, now bottled at 40% ABV! The aged Caribbean rum has had native spices added to it, inspired by 16th and 17th century…  More info

Bumbu Original
29
$35.95
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Bumbu XO

70cl, 40%
Bumbu

Bumbu Rum XO small batch rum is produced from molasses in a distillery in Panama that dates back more than 120 years! It spent 18 years in American white oak bourbon barrels, and was then treated to…  More info

Bumbu XO
14
$39.02
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Burla Negra Rum

70cl, 40%
Burla Negra Rum

Burla Negra Rum is made with a blend of Caribbean rums, and finished in casks that previously held Albariño wine. This one's got a subtle saltiness to it, and that's not an accident. It's in…  More info

Burla Negra Rum
3
$33.37

Burning Barn Smoked Rum

70cl, 40%
Burning Barn

An intriguingly rich rum which is aptly smoky considering the name of its producers - Burning Barn. They make this expression by cold smoking their rum with local apple wood, imparting obvious…  More info

Burning Barn Smoked Rum
8
$34.66

Burning Barn Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Burning Barn

The folks at Burning Barn set out to make a spiced rum that was... Well, spicy. As luck would have it, they succeeded in their quest! This warming tipple features ginger, Bird's Eye chilli and…  More info

Burning Barn Spiced Rum
6
$31.83

Bush Rum Mango

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A rather fruity spiced rum from the Bush Rum Co.! This one makes fabulous use of ripe mangoes, which are used to flavour the tropical spirit. The fruity influence isn't too overwhelming, with a good…  More info

Bush Rum Mango
4
$21.52

Bush Rum Original Spiced

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A classic spiced rum here from the Bush Rum Co.! The warming spirit takes a base of Caribbean rum and adds a whole host of fragrant spices. We can see this working superbly well with ginger beer...  More info

Bush Rum Original Spiced
3
$21.52

Bush Rum Passion Fruit & Guava

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A terrifically zesty expression here from the Bush Rum Co., featuring the likes of passion fruit and guava up in the mix, alongside hints of vanilla and toasty spices. Excellent if you're looking for…  More info

Bush Rum Passion Fruit & Guava
$22.54

Bush Rum Tropical Citrus

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A terrifically tropical treat from Bush Rum! The Tropical Citrus expression packs oodles of pineapple, mango, orange, and yet more citrus into the spirit, making for a drink that'll be marvellous for…  More info

Bush Rum Tropical Citrus
1
$22.54

BVB 09 Rum 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
BVB

A rather unique rum made for BVB! For the less sport-minded of you, BVB is also known as Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund (we can see why they abbreviated it), also known more simply…  More info

BVB 09 Rum 12 Year Old
$59.51

Cabal No.1513 Aged Rum

70cl, 43%
Cabal Rum

Developed through the combined input of industry experts, rum aficionados, and consumers, the folks at Cabal Rum came up with No.1513 – a fantastic expression indeed! Following extensive taste tests…  More info

Cabal No.1513 Aged Rum
1
$38.24

C.A.C.D. 13 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 60.1%
C.A.C.D.

Here we've got the second batch of rum from C.A.C.D. in Venezuela to be independently bottled up by That Boutique-y Rum Company! A marvellous multi-column still rum, matured for 13 years, and bottled…  More info

C.A.C.D. 13 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$56.43
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C.A.C.D. 17 Year Old 2004 – Rumtown

50cl, 57.7%
C.A.C.D.

An impressive Venezuelan rum here, independently bottled by Rumtown. It was distilled by C.A.C.D. back in 2004, and it spent 17 years maturing (mostly in Venezuela, partially in the Dominican…  More info

C.A.C.D. 17 Year Old 2004 – Rumtown
$92.43

Cadenhead's Classic Rum

70cl, 50%
WM Cadenhead

Though known more for their whisky bottlings (they're one of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland!), W.M. Cadenhead also bottle delicious rums, too. This is their Classic Rum, made with…  More info

Cadenhead's Classic Rum
4
$33.35

Caithness Raiders Rum

70cl, 40%
Ice & Fire

From Ice & Fire Distillery comes Caithness Raiders Rum, which has had a touch of honey, various spices and gorse (which gives a coconut flavour) added. It has also been aged in oak, imparting a…  More info

Caithness Raiders Rum
6
$39.02

Caliche Rum

70cl, 40%
Caliche Rum

Caliche Rum is awesome both inside and out, founded by none other than Rande Gerber and Roberto Serrallés. Produced at Destileria Serrallés in Puerto Rico, the five times distillied white rum is in…  More info

Caliche Rum
$34.86
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