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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. 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 Rum 23 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

From Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range comes a 23 year old rum from an undisclosed distillery in Trinidad, which was distilled in December 1991. Just 338 bottles were produced.  More info

Trinidad Rum 23 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$122.61

Bacardi Carta de Oro - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Bacardi

An old 75cl bottle of Bacardi gold rum thought to date from the 1970s. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are available, please…  More info

Bacardi Carta de Oro - 1970s
$158.72

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)

75cl, 69%
Westerhall

Overproof rum from Grenada-based producers, Westerhall Estate. Their Iron Jack is allowed to age in charred oak casks before being bottled at a generous 69% ABV - you'll want to dilute this well with…  More info

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron Rum (69%)
$40.73

Aliança Rum - 1960s

98cl, 40%
Caves Alianca

A rare Portuguese bottling of rum thought to date from the 1960s. This is a 98cl bottle, unusually. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of…  More info

Aliança Rum - 1960s
$238.09

Bardinet Negrita Dry & Light - 1990s

70cl, 38%
Bardinet Distillery

A collectible bottle of white rum produced by Bardinet back in the 1990s. Should be interesting for cocktail enthusiasts. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information…  More info

Bardinet Negrita Dry & Light - 1990s
$105.82

Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita - 1980s

75cl, 40%
Bardinet Distillery

This is a rare 1980s bottle of Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita. A collectable item. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are…  More info

Bardinet Old Nick Rhum Negrita - 1980s
$132.27

Four Bells Navy Rum 1l - 1980s

100cl, 57%
Four Bells

A rare old bottle of Four Bells Navy Rum thought to date from the 1980s, produced in Guyana. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item…  More info

Four Bells Navy Rum 1l - 1980s
$198.41

Bacardi Superior Gold - 1970s

72cl, 40%
Bacardi

An old, interestingly shaped bottle of Bacardi Superior Gold rum, produced all the way back in 1970s. It looks to have become rather dusty over the years, not unlike a relic that treasure hunters…  More info

Bacardi Superior Gold - 1970s
$158.72

Monymusk Overproof White Rum

70cl, 63%
Monymusk

An overproof white rum produced in Jamaica by the Monymusk Estate. Triple distilled and bottled at 63% ABV, this will certainly stand out in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Monymusk Overproof White Rum
$32.64

Monymusk Classic Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Monymusk

A light but spicy Jamaican rum from the Monymusk estate. Great for enjoying in cocktails, but its vibrant notes of fresh fruit and cooking spices mean it certainly can be sipped over ice.  More info

Monymusk Classic Gold Rum
$29.21

Monymusk Special Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Monymusk

The entry level expression of rum from the Jamaican Monymusk Estate, made for enjoying in cocktails. Quite light and sweet, this one.  More info

Monymusk Special Gold Rum
$24.91

Don Q 20 Year Old Reserva de la Familia Serrallés

75cl, 40%
Serralles

Released to mark Don Q's 150th anniversary, Reserva de la Familia Serralles is a blend of 20 year old rums. Back in 1994 a lot of 36 charred American oak barrels were filled, the finest 6 of which…  More info

Don Q 20 Year Old Reserva de la Familia Serrallés
$1759.14

Ron Esclavo XO Solera

70cl, 42%
Ron Esclavo

Ron Esclavo is a rum that's name makes reference to sugar cane growing's terrible past, with Esclavo being the Spanish word for 'slave'. It's said to pay homage to all those who suffered. A Solera…  More info

Ron Esclavo XO Solera
$64.75

The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. Spiced Rum

50cl, 42%
The Sweet Potato Spirit Co

A rather intriguing sip from the Sweet Potato Spirit Co. - a Spiced Rum made with a mash of sweet potato and sugar cane molasses!  More info

The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. Spiced Rum
$31.90

Bacardi Carta Blanca (70cl) - 1990s

70cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A 70cl bottling of white rum from Bacardi dating from the 1990s. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are available, please…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca (70cl) - 1990s
$105.82

Westerhall No.7 Rum

70cl, 40%
Westerhall

Westerhall Rum No.7 was unveiled in mid-2016 as part of the Westerhall Estate range redesign, taking the place of their Westerhall Dark Rum. It's been aged for 7 years, during which time its taken on…  More info

Westerhall No.7 Rum
$45.61

FAIR. 11 Year Old Rum

70cl, 50.70%
FAIR.

Ooh, the FAIR. folks have release an even older rum than their last one (the excellent 10 Year Old)! The FAIR 11 Year Old rum from Belize is made with Fair Trade certified sugar cane, and features…  More info

FAIR. 11 Year Old Rum
$64.39

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum - 1980s

75cl, 57%
Wood's

Thought to date from the 1980s, a rare and old 75cl bottle of Wood's Navy Rum. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are…  More info

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum - 1980s
$158.72

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

From the producers of Santiago de Cuba comes a treasure chest full of Cuban rum! The rum itself isn't just sloshing around in the chest - it comes presented in a vintage-looking ceramic decanter.  More info

Santiago de Cuba Isla del Tesoro
$629.76

Bacardi Superior 1l - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A 1970s one litre bottling of classic Bacardi Superior Carta Blanca white rum. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are…  More info

Bacardi Superior 1l - 1970s
$158.72

Lamb's Navy Rum 37.5cl - 1960s

38cl, 40%
Lamb's

A half-bottle of Lamb's Navy Rum produced in the 1960s. If you're assembling a collection of Navy paraphernalia, a bottle of this rum would certainly fit in well indeed. This bottle was part of a…  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum 37.5cl - 1960s
$105.82

Captain Morgan Black Label - 1980s

70cl, 73%
Captain Morgan

A rare old bottling of Captain Morgan Overproof Black Label Jamaican rum thought to date from the 1980s. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs…  More info

Captain Morgan Black Label - 1980s
$198.41

Ron Montero Plata

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Montero

A platinum rum from Rum Montero, founded in 1963 by an established sugar cane growing family in Motril, Granada.  More info

Ron Montero Plata
$22.74

Clément 8 Year Old 2005 (cask 20100201) - Single Cask

50cl, 41.60%
Clément

Single cask 8 year old Rhum Agricole from Clément, aged in a bourbon cask from October 2005 to June 2014. Only 497 bottles were release - very interesting Martinican rhum right here...  More info

Clément 8 Year Old 2005 (cask 20100201) - Single Cask
$47.43

Bacardi Carta Blanca 37.5% - 1970s

75cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A rare old bottling of classic Bacardi white rum from Funky Nassau, Bahamas. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are available,…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 37.5% - 1970s
$158.72

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