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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.

Trinidad 1991 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 66.2%
Trinidad

Produced by Trinidad Distillers Limited, this impressive bottle of molasses rum was distilled in December 1991 in a continuous column still (which was commissioned by Angostura Ltd in the late…  More info

Trinidad 1991 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$285.85

Conde de Cuba 11 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Conde de Cuba

An 11 year old rum from Conde de Cuba, produced at the Ron Sevilla Factory in southeastern Cuba. It's made entirely from local sugar cane, and the ageing process has imparted some rich, woody notes…  More info

Conde de Cuba 11 Year Old
$49.71

Bacardi Carta Negra

70cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A classic dark rum from Bacardi, Carta Negra is charcoal-filtered for smoothness before mellowing in oak barrels. Perfect for any cocktail that calls for a dark rum.  More info

Bacardi Carta Negra
$25.36

Hampden 35 Year Old 1983 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 58.1%
Hampden

Another addition to Hunter Laing's fabulous Kill Devil bottling series, and this is a rather special release of 35 year old Jamaican rum. It began its life in 1983 at the Hampden Estate distillery…  More info

Hampden 35 Year Old 1983 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$734.46

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old Single Blended Rum

70cl, 46%
Foursquare

Excellen rum from the Barbados-based Foursquare distillery, produced in both copper pot and column stills and matured in heavily-charred bourbon barrels for 12 years. Released as part of the Real…  More info

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old Single Blended Rum
$64.54

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1976

70cl, 40%
Malecon

A 1976 vintage rum from Panama's Malecon and its Seleccion Esplendida range. Malecon take plenty of influence from Cuban rum production methods, so don't be surprised to find similarities between…  More info

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1976
$444.73

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1982

70cl, 40%
Malecon

Well-matured Panamanian rum from Malecon's Seleccion Esplendida - a range that shows off various vintages of rum produced in the Central American country, inspired by production methods from Cuba.…  More info

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1982
$158.78

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1985

70cl, 40%
Malecon

In the year 1985, this Malecon Seleccion Esplendida was distilled in Panama and then left to rest in oak barrels. Three decades later in 2015, it was finally bottled! Inspired by traditional Cuban…  More info

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1985
$145.01

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1987

70cl, 40%
Malecon

From the year 1987 comes this Seleccion Esplendida rum from Malecon. The rum, produced at an undisclosed distillery in Panama, is made using traditional Cuban methods of production. It then spent…  More info

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1987
$135.48

Malecon 20 Year Old 1996 - Rare Proof

70cl, 48.4%
Malecon

From the Malecon Rare Proof range comes a 20 year old Panamanian rum distilled in 1996, and bottled at 48.4% ABV. The range features the rum from an undisclosed distillery in the Central American…  More info

Malecon 20 Year Old 1996 - Rare Proof
$77.24

Malecon 25 Year Old Reserva Imperial

70cl, 40%
Malecon

An excellent Panamanian rum from Malecon, aged for quarter of a century! After 25 years of maturation, this rum boasts heavy notes of oak and tobacco, punctuated by lip-smacking fruit and a whiff of…  More info

Malecon 25 Year Old Reserva Imperial
1
$96.30

Malecon 18 Year Old Reserva Imperial

70cl, 40%
Malecon

The 18 Year Old Reserva Imperial from Rum Malecon brings rich notes of dark chocolate and tropical fruit to the table, balanced by a soft salinity developing in the background. The whole range is…  More info

Malecon 18 Year Old Reserva Imperial
$48.65

Malecon 15 Year Old Reserva Superior

70cl, 40%
Malecon

After 15 years of maturation, the Panamanian rum from Malecon have developed a flavour profile rich in toffee, festive spices and crushed walnut. Excellent stuff from this brand, which takes plenty…  More info

Malecon 15 Year Old Reserva Superior
$39.12

Malecon 12 Year Old Reserva Superior

70cl, 40%
Malecon

This is the 12 year old expression from Rum Malecon, made in Panama taking inspiration from Cuban production methods. The result is wonderful dark rum suitable for pouring over ice and simply sipping…  More info

Malecon 12 Year Old Reserva Superior
$35.95

Malecon 10 Year Old Reserva Superior

70cl, 40%
Malecon

10 year old Panamanian rum from the Malecon range, produced using methods inspired by traditional Cuban rum. Great for sipping neat, but more than suitable for adding extra depth and character to…  More info

Malecon 10 Year Old Reserva Superior
$31.72

William George Rum

70cl, 43%
William George

William George Rum is the creation of bartender Andrew Nicholls, named to honour his two grandfathers, William and George. The rum was distilled in Jamaican pot stills and Trinidadian column stills,…  More info

William George Rum
$46.01

Spanish Rum 18 Year Old 1999 (Single Cask Nation)

75cl, 49%
Single Cask Nation

Described as a 'whisky drinker's rum', this expression was distilled in May 1999 and spent the next 18 years resting in a first fill bourbon barrel. It was then bottled at cask strength by the Jewish…  More info

Spanish Rum 18 Year Old 1999 (Single Cask Nation)
$211.72

Caroni 1997 (cask 73) - Sinob (Creative Whisky)

70cl, 57.9%
Caroni

Distilled in 1997, this rum is from the Caroni Distillery in Trinidad and Tobago which closed in 2002. Creative Whisky Co. bottled the liquid in 2015 from a single cask, and the bottle is decorated…  More info

Caroni 1997 (cask 73) - Sinob (Creative Whisky)
$370.62

Caroni 17 Year Old 1997 (cask 29) - Rum for Runners

75cl, 50%
Caroni

A 17 year old bottle of Caroni dark rum bottled for the Taiwan Single Malt Whisky Tasting Association. The Caroni Distillery in Trinidad and Tobago was established in 1918, but unfortunately the…  More info

Caroni 17 Year Old 1997 (cask 29) - Rum for Runners
$529.45

Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita - 1960s

75cl, 0%
Bardinet

A bottle of Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita, a Caribbean blend from French producer Bardinet bottled back in the 1960s. This bottle was part of a private collection - if you'd like more detailed…  More info

Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita - 1960s
$190.60

Havana Club Silver Dry - 1990s

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

A collectible bottle of Havana Club Silver Dry rum, produced in Cuba sometime back in the 1990s. Silver Dry was replaced by Silver in the early 2000s. This bottle was part of a private collection…  More info

Havana Club Silver Dry - 1990s
$79.42

Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita 'Old Genuine' - 1960s

75cl, 0%
Bardinet

An old and collectible Old Genuine expression of Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita rum produced in the 1960s. This bottle was part of a private collection - if you'd like more detailed photos just…  More info

Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita 'Old Genuine' - 1960s
$190.60

J. Morera Ron Manzanillo - 1960s

75cl, 0%
J. Morera

An old bottle of rum from Las Destilerias Hijo de J. Morero in the 1960s. It's wrapped in some kind of straw ribbon, which is apparently so the bottle didn't slip from your hands in hot climates. Now…  More info

J. Morera Ron Manzanillo - 1960s
$211.78

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (1L) - 1980s

100cl, 44%
Bardinet

A rare and collectible one litre bottling of Bardinet Rhum Negrita from the Caribbean in the 1980s. This bottle was part of a private collection - if you'd like more detailed photos just get in…  More info

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (1L) - 1980s
$127.07

Angostura Old Oak Gold - 1980s

75cl, 43%
Angostura

A bottled of aged rum from Angostura bottled under their Old Oak label during the 1980s, produced in Trinidad, West Indies. Old but gold. That should have been the tagline for this rum. Someone get…  More info

Angostura Old Oak Gold - 1980s
$100.60

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