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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.

Faith & Sons Pink Rum

50cl, 37.5%
Faith and Sons

From the Faith & Sons Microdistillery in Manchester comes a delightful pink rum. You read that right. It's not pink gin. It's pink rum. This tipple has been flavoured with strawberry and raspberry,…  More info

Faith & Sons Pink Rum
$32.48

Caroni Navy Rum Extra Strong - 100th Anniversary

70cl, 51.4%
Caroni

A very cool bottling of rum from the closed Caroni distillery in Trinidad, celebrating the 100th anniversary of its opening back in 1918. The aged rum has been bottled at 90° proof as a team effort…  More info

Caroni Navy Rum Extra Strong - 100th Anniversary
$325.24

Travellers Distillery 2006 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 64.7%
Travellers Distillery

A 2006 vintage rum from the Travellers Distillery in Belize, which has been bottled by 1423 in Denmark. The rum was distilled using column stills back in 2006 and matured until 2018, when it was…  More info

Travellers Distillery 2006 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$108.37

C.A.C.D. 2004 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 58.9%
C.A.C.D.

A single cask Venezuelan rum, bottled by Danish bottler, 1423. This expression was distilled by Venezuela's C.A.C.D. back in 2004 and allowed to mature 2018, when it was bottled at cask strength.…  More info

C.A.C.D. 2004 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$119.21

Jamaica 2005 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 58.6%
1423

Independently bottled rum from an undisclosed Jamaican distillery, released for the Single Barrel Selection by Danish bottlers 1423. It's a pot still rum that was distilled back in 2005 and bottled…  More info

Jamaica 2005 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$108.37

Foursquare 2008 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 55%
Foursquare

A rather intriguing bottling of rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados. The spirit was distilled in 2008 and was given a 12-month finishing period in casks that previously aged Marsala wine.…  More info

Foursquare 2008 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$97.53

Cuba Rum Cane Island

70cl, 40%
Cane Island

A blend of Cuban rums here from the Cane Island range. Want to know which Cuban distilleries the rums came from? Too bad, the Cane Island folks are keeping quiet about that. However, the rum remains…  More info

Cuba Rum Cane Island
$35.73

Travellers Distillery 9 Year Old - Cane Island

70cl, 43%
Travellers Distillery

On the eastern coast of Central America, you'll find Belize - and within Belize you'll find the Travellers Distillery, which is where this 9 year old rum came from. The spirit come from column stills…  More info

Travellers Distillery 9 Year Old - Cane Island
$49.42

Bonne Mère 3 Year Old - Cane Island

70cl, 43%
Bonne Mère

An independent bottling of 3 year old rum from the little-known Bonne Mère in Guadeloupe. After being matured in a combination of bourbon barrels and French oak casks, this rum was bottle by Cane…  More info

Bonne Mère 3 Year Old - Cane Island
$42.24

Foursquare 8 Year Old - Cane Island

70cl, 43%
Foursquare

Another tasty indie bottling of rum from far off lands by Cane Island. This time they've sourced a rum from Foursquare in Barbados, which was made with spirit from the distillery's column and pot…  More info

Foursquare 8 Year Old - Cane Island
$49.42

Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos 5 Year Old - Cane Island

70cl, 43%
Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos

Cane Island, an independent bottler of rum, sourced this edition from the Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos in the Dominican Republic. It was made with a base of sugar-cane juice and was distilled in a…  More info

Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos 5 Year Old - Cane Island
$42.24

Distillerie De Paris Galabé Rum

50cl, 43%
Distillerie De Paris

From the first distillery to open in Paris in over a century comes a handcrafted rhum made from galabé. This is sugar cane juice from the island of Reunion, which has been distilled in Paris.  More info

Distillerie De Paris Galabé Rum
1
$63.93

Ron Elixir Orange - Compañero (1423)

70cl, 40%
1423

A lip-smacking expression from 1423's Compañero range, based around rum from Trinidad and flavoured with plenty of orange alongside various tropical deliciousness. Well suited to enjoying alongside…  More info

Ron Elixir Orange - Compañero (1423)
$48.74

Ron Gran Reserva - Compañero (1423)

70cl, 40%
1423

A combination of aged rums from Jamaica and Trinidad, produced by Danish bottler 1423 for its Compañero range. The Jamaican rums in the blend come from pot stills, while the rums from Trinidad were…  More info

Ron Gran Reserva - Compañero (1423)
$48.74

Böhler Inländer Rum - 1960s

100cl, 80%
Bohler

A 1960s bottle of high strength (and we mean it) Austrian rum, produced by Böhler. This stuff was bottled at a massive 80% ABV, presumably in the style of another popular Austrian rum... This…  More info

Böhler Inländer Rum - 1960s
$260.23

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
$35.99

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
$78.02

Clairin Casimir 2016

70cl, 48.3%
Douglas Casimir

This is the 2015 vintage Clairin Casimir rhum - curiously, the distiller adds lemongrass, cinnamon and ginger to the mix during fermentation. A very interesting spirit from Haiti.  More info

Clairin Casimir 2016
$53.67

Oxenham 85th Anniversary Rhum

70cl, 42%
Bougainville

A celebratory rhum agricole from Mauritian producer, Oxenham. This handsome decanter was produced in honour of the company's 85th anniversary, and features a spirit made from pure sugar cane juice…  More info

Oxenham 85th Anniversary Rhum
$165.43

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
$75.84

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
$75.84

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
$42.04

Bougainville White Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

From the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this white rum that was crafted from Mauritian molasses fermented at low temperatures for 14 to 20 days before being double…  More info

Bougainville White Rum
$25.19

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
$58.85

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
$42.79

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