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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.

Papagayo Organic & Fair Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Papagayo

A spiced addition to the Papagayo range of organic rums from Paraguay produced to Fair Trade standards.  More info

Papagayo Organic & Fair Spiced Rum
$32.72

Port Morant 1999 (bottled 2015) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 46%
Port Morant

A 1999 vintage rum from the Port Morant estate in Guyana, bottled by the Bristol Spirits folks. This rum was initially matured in American oaks, and enjoying a finishing period of 2 years in Port…  More info

Port Morant 1999 (bottled 2015) - Bristol Spirits
$70.66

Clément 11 Year Old 2004 (cask 20030074) - Single Cask

50cl, 42.80%
Clement

A single cask rhum agricole from Martinican producers, Clément. This 11 year old rhum was drawn from cask #20030074, which was filled in April 2004 and bottled in May 2015 with an outturn of 557…  More info

Clément 11 Year Old 2004 (cask 20030074) - Single Cask
$65.47

Trois Rivieres VSOP

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

The Trois Rivieres VSOP expression is allowed to mature for at least 5 years, resulting in a well flavoured, rich rhum agricole. This comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.  More info

Trois Rivieres VSOP
$58.66

Dillion 13 Year Old - Martinique Rhum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 44%
Dillion Distillery

Agricole rhum, made from cane juice as opposed to molasses, from Martinique (which has a great flag) bottled by Compagnie Des Indes after 13 years in a single French oak barrel. It comes from Dillion…  More info

Dillion 13 Year Old - Martinique Rhum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$85.90

Barbancourt 11 Year Old - Haiti Rhum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Barbancourt

Single cask agricole rhum from Haiti! Matured for 11 years in a single French oak barrel, it was distilled at Barbancourt and bottled by Compagnie Des Indes.  More info

Barbancourt 11 Year Old - Haiti Rhum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$76.94

St Lucia 14 Year Old 2000 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

Rum distilled in 2000 on the beautiful island of St Lucia, whose motto is the reassuring "The Land, The People, The Light". After a 14 year maturation, it was bottled in the UK by Berry Bros & Rudd.  More info

St Lucia 14 Year Old 2000 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$97.10

Nicaragua 12 Year Old 2002 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

A tasty twelve year old Nicaraguan rum distilled in 2000 and bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd in the UK.  More info

Nicaragua 12 Year Old 2002 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$69.41

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum 1998 (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

A well-aged agricole rum (or rhum) from Guadeloupe, which is part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Interesting fact: World Cup and European Championship winning French footballer Lilian…  More info

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum 1998 (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$104.86

Fiji 11 Year Old 2003 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

An 11 year old rum distilled in Fiji that was bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd of St James's at 46% abv.  More info

Fiji 11 Year Old 2003 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$70.51

Alfred Lamb's Navy Rum Flagon - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Lamb's

A flagon of Lamb's Navy Rum probably dating from the 1970s and still in good condition. A very collectible antique bottling.  More info

Alfred Lamb's Navy Rum Flagon - 1970s
$174.04

Revolver Rum

70cl, 40%
Rathlee

Revolver Rum is the first release from the Rathlee Distilling Company! It's inspired by the blending of two very different cultures - the Colombian city of Bogotá (the largest city on Colombia, we'll…  More info

Revolver Rum
$46.34

Rum Nation 10 Year Old 2001 (bottled 2011)

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

From the Rum Nations selection comes a 10 year old rum which was distilled in Barbados. The Italian company suggests pairing this with a dark, delicate Ecuadorian chocolate...  More info

Rum Nation 10 Year Old 2001 (bottled 2011)
$49.86

Ron Aguere Oro

70cl, 37.50%
San Bartolomé de Tejina

Distilled from pure sugar cane juices as opposed to molasses, Ron Aguere Oro is produced and aged on the Canary Islands with delicious cocktails in mind.  More info

Ron Aguere Oro
$35.01

Barbancourt 2004 (Bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Barbancourt

A reserve 'rum' made from pure sugar cane rather than molasses (i.e. rhum) from Haiti, distilled at La société du Rhum Barbancourt in 2004 and bottled in the UK a decade later by Bristol Spirits.  More info

Barbancourt 2004 (Bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits
$67.55

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

The Carta Blanca rum from Santiago de Cuba is a molasses-based rum which is initially aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling, removing the colour but not the flavour (making it a good choice…  More info

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca
$29.82

Brugal Ron Blanco 151 - 1980s

70cl, 75.50%
Brugal

This is a 1980s bottling of high proof rum from Brugal, a very well known Dominican rum brand. This was bottled at 151 proof, otherwise known as 75.5% ABV!  More info

Brugal Ron Blanco 151 - 1980s
$145.03

Tondeña Manila Rum - 1970s

75cl, 40%
La Tondeña

An ancient bottle of Tondeña Manila Rum, which is produced in the Philippines. We believe that this rare bottle was made in the 1970s.  More info

Tondeña Manila Rum - 1970s
$174.04

Ron Don-B Superior - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Morey

While Ron Don-B might sound like a good nickname for someone called Ronald, it's actually the name of this Spanish white rum produced in the 1970s.  More info

Ron Don-B Superior  - 1970s
$217.55

Ron Artemi Etiqueta Plata - 1960s

99cl, 40%
Artemi

White rum produced in the 1960s by Spanish distillers Artemi. A rare anyique from over 40 years ago.  More info

Ron Artemi Etiqueta Plata - 1960s
$261.05

Captain Morgan Black Label 1l - 1980s

100cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

Got a collection of Captain Morgan bottles? This ought to pique your fancy - a 1 litre 1980s bottling of Captain Morgan Black Label!  More info

Captain Morgan Black Label 1l - 1980s
$145.03

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Jefferson's

Jefferson's 1785 is a rich, enjoyable and good value for money dark rum, perfect for mixing and sipping over ice. Of course, it's named after one of the American Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.  More info

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum
$27.37

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (44%) - 1970s

70cl, 44%
Bardinet Distillery

This collectible piece is a hard-to-find bottle of Bardinet's Rhum Negrita, which we believe was produced back in the 1970s.  More info

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (44%) - 1970s
$174.04

Courville Martinique Rhum - 1970s

75cl, 45%
Stock

A very rare bottle of Courville Martinique Rhum, produced for the Italian company Stock back in the 1970s. An, elegant, classy piece of rum history, right here.  More info

Courville Martinique Rhum - 1970s
$174.04

Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Seagram's

A rare 1960s bottling of Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum, made with rum from Guyana. Sadly the label has been torn at some point over the years...  More info

Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum - 1960s
$217.55

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