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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.

Santa Teresa Ron Selecto

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Venezuelan rum from Santa Teresa, this is a blend of rums aged for between 3 and 9 years. Ron Selecto makes a cracking Mojito…  More info

Santa Teresa Ron Selecto
$27.13

Karukera Cuvée Christophe Colomb 1493

70cl, 45%
Karukera

A Hors d'Aug Rhum Agricole from the Karukera range, which has been named after Christopher Colombus and his 1493 trip, when he became the first European to land on Guadeloupe. At the top end of…  More info

Karukera Cuvée Christophe Colomb 1493
$132.30

Clément VSOP

70cl, 40%
Clément

Clément VSOP is a rhum agricole, matured for a year in virgin French oak barrels, before a three maturation in re-charred bourbon barrels. This was awarded a Gold by the Beverage Tasting Institute…  More info

Clément VSOP
$44.44

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial Extra Dry Rum

70cl, 40%
Brugal

Classic white rum from Dominican producers, Brugal, which is aged for at least one year to mellow out some of the overly intense qualities of rum straight from the still. This tasty rum is no…  More info

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial Extra Dry Rum
$22.79

Cuvée Homère Clément

70cl, 44%
Clément

A stunning expression from Clément, made from well-aged, specially selected vintages of rhum argicole from the Martinique distiller's stocks. The name itself comes from the founder of the distillery,…  More info

Cuvée Homère Clément
$107.03

Mount Gay Black Barrel

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

Released in the UK in 2014, the Mount Gay Black Barrel rum is made from single column and double pot distilled rum, though using a higher proportion of double pot distillates than their other…  More info

Mount Gay Black Barrel
7
$34.37

New Grove Dark Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Grays

A richly delicious dark rum from New Grove in Mauritius. Made following an old family recipe, it's both spicy and sweet, perfect for cocktails that need a boost of flavour or just enjoyed over ice.  More info

New Grove Dark Rum
$23.44

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

A 7 year old rhum agricole from the J. Bally range produced on the island of Martinique. This comes in a pyramid-shaped bottle - pyramids are rather sturdy three-dimensional shapes, and are indeed…  More info

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$46.64

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 35cl

35cl, 40%
William Grant

A blend of Demerara rums, intended for mixing purposes.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 35cl
2
$11.45

Medford Rum

75cl, 40%
GrandTen Distilling

New England used to be rather renowned for its rum, with rum from Medford being well regarded to the point of it becoming somewhat of a "thing". Though this was a long time ago, GrandTen Distilling…  More info

Medford Rum
$41.80

Virgin Gorda Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

When you hear a name like The Poshmakers, you can't help but be worried there's a top hat or an ironic joke about the upper class on the way. Luckily for everyone involved, they're actually a…  More info

Virgin Gorda Rum
$45.05

Santa Teresa Claro

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A Venezuelan rum aged in American white oak for around 3 years before being filtered to remove the colour. Santa Teresa Claro offers plenty of fruity notes, and is great in cocktails.  More info

Santa Teresa Claro
$19.48

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum

70cl, 40%
J Wray and Nephew

Blackwell Black Gold Rum was created by Chris Blackwell, who also happens to be the owner of Island Records. The dark rum itself is distilled and blended by J. Wray & Nephew in Jamaica. It was made…  More info

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum
1
$21.53

Zaya 12 Year Old Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Zaya

12 year old rum from Trinidad, bottled for the Zaya range. Made with a carefully crafted blend of rums, all of which have aged for at least 12 years, Zaya is a rich, oily, nutty expression. Good…  More info

Zaya 12 Year Old Gran Reserva
2
$67.00

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)

75cl, 43%
St. George Spirits

This right here is the 2014 harvest of California Agricole Rum from St. George Spirits, made with sugar cane grown in Southern California. The St. George distillers take this sugar cane and extract…  More info

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)
1
$68.78

Opthimus 21 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

A long-aged rum from the Dominican Republic released for the Opthimus range. This was aged in a Solera system, resulting in well-rounded, juicy fruit and balancing, drying dark chocolate notes…  More info

Opthimus 21 Rum
$69.95

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
$41.89

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Second Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

A special edition rum from St Lucia Distillers, named after the year that the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. In 1972, the Dennery Distillery merged with another to form St. Lucia…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Second Edition
$61.73

Owney's Original Rum

70cl, 40%
The Noble Experiment NYC

Owney's Original Rum comes to us from The Noble Experiment NYC, established by Bridget C. Firtle in 2012. Named in honour of Owen 'Owney' Madden, a Prohibition-era rum-runner and speak-easy…  More info

Owney's Original Rum
$46.26

Desilver White Rum

70cl, 40%
DeSilver

White spiced rum? Now I've seen everything! That's right, the DeSilver White Rum is made with a selection of "secret spices" from St. Barth and carries a story about the pirate named DeSilver from…  More info

Desilver White Rum
$30.54

Angostura 12 Year Old "1824"

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A top quality rum hand selected by the master blender from select casks at Angostura. This is matured in American oak bourbon barrels for at least 12 years when it is blended and re-casked. It offers…  More info

Angostura 12 Year Old
6
$59.54

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 7 year old rum from Panama made by Varela-Hermanos. Ron Abuelo is made using distillery grown sugar cane and is aged in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old
3
$27.81

Clément Canne Bleue 2014

70cl, 50%
Clément

A single varietal rhum agricole - not something you see every day, is it? This is the 2014 vintage, made by Clément in Martinique using juice exclusively with a variety of sugar cane known as Canne…  More info

Clément Canne Bleue 2014
$37.76

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum

70cl, 40%
Grace Rum

While Cor Cor Green is a Japanese rum made with freshly pressed sugar cane, Cor Cor Red is a classic, molasses-based rum produced on the island of Minamidaitojima, south of the main islands which…  More info

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum
$62.54

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez

70cl, 40%
Williams & Humbert

A 'double aged' rum, although it could be considered to be triple aged. Rums from Barbados and Guyana are matured for five years in the Caribbean before being transported to Jerez where they are…  More info

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez
3
$44.70

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