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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.

FAIR. Acacia Cask Finish Rum

70cl, 40%
FAIR.

A rum from Belize, finished in acacia casks and bottled by FAIR., experts in spirits with Fair Trade origins. A unique and frankly fantastic expression, well worth checking out.  More info

FAIR. Acacia Cask Finish Rum
$49.21

Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish is the result of work done by Don Q master blender Jaiker Soto, who has sought to expand the brand's special releases portfolio with a host of unique, barrel-aged…  More info

Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish
$36.34

Admiral Rodney Rum - HMS Formidable

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Made using a 45-plate Coffey still and aged in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, this really rather scrumptious molasses-based rum contains liquid aged for between nine and 12 years. The Rodney…  More info

Admiral Rodney Rum - HMS Formidable
$78.77

Admiral Rodney Rum - HMS Princessa

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

The Admiral Rodney rum range from St. Lucia Distillers was inspired by the naval victory of Admiral George Rodney, who ensured British domination of the Caribbean after he defeated the French at…  More info

Admiral Rodney Rum - HMS Princessa
$51.39

Soggy Dollar Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Soggy Dollar

From the Soggy Dollar range comes a delicious dark rum, packing plenty of brown sugar, tropical fruit and simmering spice. Ought to be marvellous in your favourite rum-based cocktail. The Soggy…  More info

Soggy Dollar Dark Rum
$30.60

Clairin Sajous 2016

70cl, 54.3%
Distillerie Chelo

Clairin Sajous is an intriguing style of rhum agricole from Haiti - they press the sugar cane, and then reduce the juice over fires fuelled by the remains of the sugar cane! It's then fermented using…  More info

Clairin Sajous 2016
$57.96

New Grove Double Cask Moscatel Finish

70cl, 47%
Grays

This dark rum from New Grove was aged 7 years in oak barrel and 1 year in Moscatel barrels to create a deeply rich, unctuous and delicious rum.  More info

New Grove Double Cask Moscatel Finish
$76.58

New Grove Double Cask Merisier Finish

70cl, 47%
Grays

From the Double Cask range of dark rums produced for the New Grove selection comes an expression finished in casks made of Merisier wood. It was initially aged in oak for 7 years, before being moved…  More info

New Grove Double Cask Merisier Finish
$76.58

Mauritius Dodo Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Mauritius Dodo

A tropical, tasty silver Mauritian rum that was inspired by the sadly extinct Dodo, which had previously been native to the Indian Ocean island nation. This edition was bottled at 40% ABV and…  More info

Mauritius Dodo Silver Rum
$48.67

Bougainville VSOP Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

From the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius is a Rum VSOP that was created using the same base spirit that the brand has used to produce its white rum, which is diluted and matured…  More info

Bougainville VSOP Rum
$42.45

Bougainville Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

A Gold Rum from the Oxenham Craft Distillery in Mauritius which was matured in for a minimum of a year in Oloroso sherry casks and Pedro Ximenez barrels before it was blended and bottled. The base…  More info

Bougainville Gold Rum
$27.26

Bougainville Lemongrass Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

This flavoured rum was distilled by the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius using Bougainville's award-winning white rum as a base, which was infused with lemongrass to create a zesty…  More info

Bougainville Lemongrass Rum
$25.79

Rhum Depaz Très Vieux Agricole VSOP

70cl, 45%
Depaz

A VSOP Rhum Vieux Agricole from Depaz that was distilled in Martinique and matured in ex-bourbon and ex-Cognac oak barrels.  More info

Rhum Depaz Très Vieux Agricole VSOP
$59.42

Rhum Depaz Vieux Agricole

70cl, 45%
Depaz

This Rhum Vieux Agricole from Depaz was distilled in Martinique (using pressed sugar cane juice rather than molasses) and aged for a least three years before it was bottled at 45% ABV.  More info

Rhum Depaz Vieux Agricole
$43.21

Tunel Capitán Huk Rum - 1990s

100cl, 37.5%
Tunel

We misread the label the first time we saw this bottle, thought it was called 'Tunnel Captain Hulk' and imagined a story about the popular comic book character becoming the ruler of an underground…  More info

Tunel Capitán Huk Rum - 1990s
$177.35

Botafogo Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Botafogo

A spied rum built around spirits from Trinidad and Tobago, alongside various spices (though the producers are staying rather secretive as to what spices there are). This expression took home a Master…  More info

Botafogo Spiced Rum
1
$30.60

Morvenna White Rum

70cl, 40%
The Cornish Distilling Co.

Rum from Cornwall? Surely this is utter madness? Even in the warmest part of England it's much too chilly to grow sugar cane. Well, not only is English rum possible, it's actually downright…  More info

Morvenna White Rum
$38.26

Ron Magüey Blanco - 1960s

100cl, 40%
Ron Magüey

This white rum was distilled by Ron Magüey sometime in the 1960s, which makes it two things: 1) Very old. I don't want anyone born in the 1960s to be offended by that statement. But as a spirit,…  More info

Ron Magüey Blanco - 1960s
$315.29

Ron Cumarey Blanco - 1960s

100cl, 40%
Ron Cumarey

A 1960s bottling of Ron Cumarey Blanco. Interestingly, the label has been styled to look very similar to another very well-known rum, which continues to be produced today... Please note that the…  More info

Ron Cumarey Blanco - 1960s
$262.74

Cabeza de Vaca 6 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Cabeza de Vaca

As one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition, the Spanish explorer of the New World Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was probably known best for his work with various Native American tribes. Now…  More info

Cabeza de Vaca 6 Year Old
1
$41.54

MarlinSpike Rum

70cl, 40%
MarlinSpike

MarlinSpike Rum is made using a combination of aged rums distilled in Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados. Not only is it a wonderful spirit to use in cocktails and mixed drinks (the producers…  More info

MarlinSpike Rum
2
$40.65

Gunroom 2 Ports Rum

70cl, 40%
Gunroom

From the Gunroom range 2 Ports Rum, a blend of rum from Trinidad with an age between 2-5 years and a minor portion of unaged Jamaican pot still rum - hence two ports. It's sublime in Daiquiris...  More info

Gunroom 2 Ports Rum
$31.61

Volbeat 15 Year Old Rum

70cl, 42%
Volbeat

A Caribbean rum created in collaboration with Danish rock band Volbeat. It's produced using spirits aged for at least 15 years from the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and…  More info

Volbeat 15 Year Old Rum
$76.58

Oliver's Exquisito 1985

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

Exquisito by name, exquisito by nature. This is a 1985 vintage solera aged rum from the Dominican Republic, released by Oliver & Oliver. Expect a supremely sippable expression here, perfect for…  More info

Oliver's Exquisito 1985
$59.28

Oliver's Exquisito 1990

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

An impeccably well-balanced Dominican rum from the Oliver & Oliver Exquisito range. This one is a 1990 vintage solera rum, boasting oak warmth and fruit sweetness in equal measures. You may be…  More info

Oliver's Exquisito 1990
$52.84

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