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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.

Isfjord Premium Arctic Rum

70cl, 44%
Isfjord

Isfjord Premium Arctic Rum combines Scandinavian and Caribbean spirit-making know-how in an attempt to create a rum that would perfectly combine the heat from the Caribbean and the cold from the…  More info

Isfjord Premium Arctic Rum
$60.60

Havana Club Silver Dry (1L) - 1990s

100cl, 37.5%
Havana Club

A 1 litre bottle of Havana Club Silver Dry rum, produced in Cuba back in the 1990s. Rare and collecctible. Also likely to be very interesting for rum geeks looking to explore the flavour profiles of…  More info

Havana Club Silver Dry (1L) - 1990s
$178.67

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
$317.64

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
$264.70

Ron Mentidero

70cl, 40%
Ron Mentidero

A stylish Spanish rum from the Madrid-based Urban Distillery Santamaní, Ron Mentidero was hand-crafted in small batches with natural ingredients. It was aged in French oak barrels for at least a year…  More info

Ron Mentidero
$35.84

Marauda Rum

70cl, 40%
Marauda

The multi-award winning Marauda Rum is created using rum from three different countries. The base is a column still rum made in Trinidad, which is combined with a column still Demerara rum from…  More info

Marauda Rum
$49.58

Shack Orange

70cl, 40%
Shack

The Shack range of rums feature spirits distilled in Barbados, Guatemala and Trinidad, with additional ingredients inspired by the flavours of Haiti. This expression sees aged rums combined with…  More info

Shack Orange
$50.13

Embargo Añejo Exquisito

70cl, 40%
Embargo

From the Embargo range comes the Añejo Exquisito rum, which is crafted using a combination of rums (and a rhum agricole) from Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Martinique and Cuba. A lighter, subtly…  More info

Embargo Añejo Exquisito
$31.92

Embargo Añejo Blanco

70cl, 40%
Embargo

The white rum from the Embargo range is actually briefly aged, leading to a very pale golden hue and a touch of warming oak-y spice on the palate. It's made using a blend of rum and rhum agricole…  More info

Embargo Añejo Blanco
$29.73

HAVN Overproof Rum

70cl, 55%
HAVN

A premium small-batch Belgian rum created to be used by bartenders, HAVN Overproof Rum was distilled with a white rum base and a touch of peat aroma to ensure it won't get lost in cocktails - which…  More info

HAVN Overproof Rum
$55.08

Over The World 2017 Edition - Samaroli

70cl, 45%
Samaroli

A blended rum from Italian bottler Samaroli, released in 2017. As ever, Samaroli have given this expression a fantastic label, which goes very well with the fantastic spirit within the bottle.  More info

Over The World 2017 Edition - Samaroli
$220.52

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum - 1980s

70cl, 57%
Wood's

A 70cl bottling of Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum from the 1980s. A classic brand that features a chap with an incredibly stylish beard on the label. He genuinely wouldn't look out of place in some of the…  More info

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum - 1980s
$198.53

Bacardi Carta Blanca (1.13L) - 1970s

113cl, 40%
Bacardi

This is a large (and awkwardly specifically sized) bottle of Bacardi Carta Blanca, produced all the way back in the 1970s, holding 1.13 litres of the classic white rum. This bottle was part of a…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca (1.13L) - 1970s
$297.79

South Pacific 13 Year Old 2004 (cask 13) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 46%
South Pacific Distillery

All the way from Fiji comes this 13 year old single cask rum, independently bottled by Duncan Taylor! It was distilled in December 2004 and bottled in April 2018, with just 72 bottles produced.  More info

South Pacific 13 Year Old 2004 (cask 13) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$48.35

Fine Cuban Rum 2003 - Sherry Finish (Bristol Spirits)

70cl, 43%
Bristol Spirits

A 2003 vintage rum all the way from Cuba, independently bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2016 after a finishing period in sherry casks. We do love these Bristol Spirits rums indeed!  More info

Fine Cuban Rum 2003 - Sherry Finish (Bristol Spirits)
$128.99

Westerhall No.2 Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Westerhall

A great value-for-money white rum from the Westerhall Estate in Grenada, tying into their number-based expression style bottlings. Suitable for use in all manner of cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Westerhall No.2 Rum
$24.84

Ron Botran Añejo 8

70cl, 40%
Botran

An entry-level expression from the Ron Botran Añejo range, produced in Guatemala and aged in a Solera system, resulting in a richly flavoursome expression.  More info

Ron Botran Añejo 8
$29.73

A.H. Riise Non Plus Ultra Sauternes Cask

70cl, 42%
A. H. Riise

This is a super premium rum from A. H. Riise, which was produced in strictly limited quantities of only 12,000 bottles per year. It honours the Roman term 'Non Plus Ultra' which loosely translated…  More info

A.H. Riise Non Plus Ultra Sauternes Cask
$94.52

A.H. Riise Non Plus Ultra Black Edition

70cl, 42%
A. H. Riise

A.H. Riise continues doing the decent thing of making really delicious rum with a particularly stylish and tasty release here: the Non Plus Ultra Black Edition. A Caribbean-style rum with plenty of…  More info

A.H. Riise Non Plus Ultra Black Edition
$99.69

Last Ward 2007 - Habitation Velier

70cl, 59%
Mount Gay

An intriguing release Italian indie bottler Velier, featuring rum distilled in 2007 at Mount Gay - but not originally for the Mount Gay brand. It was going to be part of Mount Gilboa series of…  More info

Last Ward 2007 - Habitation Velier
$126.83

Trois Rivières Millesime 1980

70cl, 45%
Trois Rivieres

Very, very old Martinican rhum agricole from Trois Rivières, distilled all the way back in 1980! To mark the occasion (properly old rhum agricole deserves a celebration!), they enlisted famed French…  More info

Trois Rivières Millesime 1980
$2,205.77

Rhum Bologne (35cl) - 1980s

35cl, 50%
Distillerie Rhum Bologne

From the Bologna distillery in Guadeloupe comes a rhum agricole produced sometime in the 1980s. It features a rather lovely little ship on the label. Pleasing. This bottle was part of a private…  More info

Rhum Bologne (35cl) - 1980s
$79.41

Nicaragua 17 Year Old 2000 - The Nectar of the Daily Drams

70cl, 48.2%
The Nectar

17 year old rum from Nicaragua, bottled by Belgian bottler The Nectar. This was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2017 at 48.2% ABV.  More info

Nicaragua 17 Year Old 2000 - The Nectar of the Daily Drams
$112.44

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof - 1970s

75cl, 0%
J Wray and Nephew

Overproof white rum from J Wray and Nephew in Jamaica, produced back in the 1970s. A very cool collectible bottle for spirits enthusiasts, which also shows off how the label design for J Wray and…  More info

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof - 1970s
$238.23

Cockspur Five Star Rum - 1990s

75cl, 43%
Cockspur

Cockspur Five Star Rum, produced in Barbados back in the 1990s. At first glace, it looks like the chicken on the label is wearing cowboy boots with spurs on them, which would be a wonderful…  More info

Cockspur Five Star Rum - 1990s
$132.35

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