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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.

Providence Estate 1990 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 46%
Providence Estate

A fine Trinidadian rum, distilled in 1990 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2012, finished in Sherrywood. Nice.  More info

Providence Estate 1990 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$108.45

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)
$70.17

Rumshak Spiced

70cl, 35%
Rumshak

This is a blend of a variety of Caribbean rums flavoured with mulling spices. While it's not technically a rum, as it is under 37.5% abv, it's still technically delicious.  More info

Rumshak Spiced
$22.22

Mezan Guyana Diamond 2005 Rum

70cl, 40%
Diamond Distillery

A 2005 vintage rum from the well-known Diamond distillery in Guyana, independently bottled by Mezan. Full of yummy herbaceous notes alongside light hints of banana and a touch of oak spice.  More info

Mezan Guyana Diamond 2005 Rum
$38.09

Cockspur Five Star

70cl, 37.50%
Cockspur

A Bajan rum aged in American white oak barrels before blending. Cockspur is buttery and spicy.  More info

Cockspur Five Star
3
$18.68

Stroh Inländer 40

70cl, 40%
Stroh Inländer

Made in Austria, Stroh is a popular spiced rum and a brand which was created in Klagenfurt in 1832. Great when used in a variety of cocktails, such as a Jagertee or a Punch, Stroh 40 is flavoured…  More info

Stroh Inländer 40
$25.08

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum

70cl, 50%
Trois Rivieres

A tangy, punchy white rhum agricole made in Martinique by the legendary Trois Rivières. Loads of flavour here, this works really well in white rum cocktails such as a Daiquiri of a Mojito.  More info

Trois Rivières Blanc Rum
$33.35

Demerara Distillers 13 Year Old - Guyana Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Demerara Distillers Limited

Another molasses rum from French independent bottlers Compagnie Des Indes, this time distilled at Demerara Distillers Limited in Guyana (the Port Mourant still) and aged for 13 years in a single…  More info

Demerara Distillers 13 Year Old - Guyana Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$68.62

Clément Rhum Agricole - 125th Anniversary Edition by JonOne

70cl, 40%
Clément

A special edition of four year old Rhum Agricole, produced by Martinique distillers, Clément, in celebration of their 125th anniversary. The bottle was designed by famous street artist JonOne and is…  More info

Clément Rhum Agricole - 125th Anniversary Edition by JonOne
$54.71

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
$44.03

Lamb's Navy Rum 1.5l

150cl, 40%
Lamb's

Lamb's is a classic rum blended from 18 different pot still rums from the Caribbean. The result is a rich, oaky Navy rum.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum 1.5l
$50.55

Expedition Superior Light White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Hall and Bramley

A white rum which has been distilled in Guyana and Barbados, then bottled by Hall & Bramley. Just the ticket for cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Expedition Superior Light White Rum
$15.37

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l

150cl, 35%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan's Spiced is a blend of Caribbean rums, flavoured with a mix of vanilla and cassia. Aged in Scotland in charred casks.  More info

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l
2
$39.31

Ron Calados Dark Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Calados

Made from Caribbean rum, Ron Calados dark rum is a value for money mixing product.  More info

Ron Calados Dark Rum
$16.11

FAIR. 10 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
FAIR.

A limited edition release from the FAIR. range, this 10 year old rum is a Fairtrade Certified made with sugar cane from Belize, matured in American oak casks for a whole decade.  More info

FAIR. 10 Year Old Rum
$57.43

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick's is an old rum brand dating from 1914 with this spiced release using rums from the Caribbean, mixed spices, citrus, and other exotic fruit.  More info

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum
$33.04

Foursquare 14 Year Old 2001 Bajan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Foursquare

A single cask rum bottling from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range, distilled in 2001 the outturn was 353 bottles.  More info

Foursquare 14 Year Old 2001 Bajan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$61.86

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

Virgin Gorda 1493 is a golden blend of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados, the oldest of which is eight years old. The producers describe it as 'sensual'.  More info

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum
$35.21

Monymusk 12 Year Old 2003 (cask 18) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 51.80%
Monymusk

Single cask rum from the Monymusk distillery, bottled by Duncan Taylor! This was distilled in August 2003 and aged in a cask until February 2016, when it was bottled with an outturn of 157 bottles.  More info

Monymusk 12 Year Old 2003 (cask 18) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$71.72

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

A Gold award winner at the 2003 International Rum Festival Awards. Gosling's Gold is a blend of pot still and continuous still spirits from Bermuda, aged for around five years.  More info

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum
4
$22.63

Plantation Trinidad 2001

70cl, 42%
Plantation

2001 vintage rum from Trinidad, which was blended, bottled and presented as part of the Plantation range by its owners, Cognac Ferrand. Heaps of fruit notes throughout this one - think ripe, exciting…  More info

Plantation Trinidad 2001
$41.69

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

The oldest rum in the Santa Teresa catalogue, Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer is made with very old Venezuelan rums. It is named in honour of Alberto J Vollmer, who founded the brand.  More info

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer
3
$138.61

New Grove Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Grays

Superbly spiced rum from the island of Mauritius, which sits in the Indian Ocean. New Grove have struck a fine balance between classic sweet rum notes of citrus and honey and the hot notes driven by…  More info

New Grove Spiced Rum
$27.53

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (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 (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$102.30

Bermudez 1852 Aniversario

70cl, 40%
Bermudez

A fantastic Dominican rum aged for 12 years and only bottled once a year! The packaging harks back to a previous age, like an old Cognac, whilst the rum itself is a rich and deep amber colour…  More info

Bermudez 1852 Aniversario
$43.49

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