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Rum

Popular Rum Types: Dark Rum | White Rum | Spiced 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.

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Ron Pampero

A crisp, fruity white rum produced in Venezuela by Ron Pampero. Aged for at least 2 years (as is the law in the country for all rum), this is a smooth, premium spirit which works well in cocktails,…  More info

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum
$18.59

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a rhum agricole from the Père Labat range, distilled on the small island of Marie-Galante in 1997. Bottled at 42% ABV, this ought to be rather rich and flavoursome expression, packed with the…  More info

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997
$112.85

English Spirit Spiced English Rum

50cl, 42%
English Vodka Company

A vibrant English Spiced rum from the chaps behind Dr. J's Gin, made in "exceedingly small" batches using their Old Salt Rum as well as fresh lemon zest, cardamom, chilli, ginger and English honey.…  More info

English Spirit Spiced English Rum
$30.61

Rum Nation Panama Solera (2015 Release)

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

A rum from Panama aged in a Solera system including / as well as time in ex-bourbon and wine barrels. It's slightly unclear, but this is a well-aged rum release from Italian company Rum Nation, who…  More info

Rum Nation Panama Solera (2015 Release)
$49.64

St. Aubin History Collection Mauritius Cuvée Grande Réserve

70cl, 40%
St Aubin

A blend of St Aubin pot still rhum agricole aged 3 to 7 years in American and French oak.  More info

St. Aubin History Collection Mauritius Cuvée Grande Réserve
$44.08

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

This is a 3 year old rum from the Real McCoy range, which has been aged in American oak bourbon barrels before enjoying a filtration process to remove the colour imparted by the maturation, but not…  More info

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old
$24.79

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

50cl, 41.6%
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
$43.98

Mezan Jamaica Worthy Park 2005

70cl, 40%
Worthy Park

A Mezan bottling of Jamaican rum from the Worthy Park Estate, situated in the Vale of Lluidas. Distilled in 2005 and bottled at 40% ABV for the well-loved Mezan selection of independently bottled…  More info

Mezan Jamaica Worthy Park 2005
$33.75

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum

70cl, 40%
The Duppy Share

In the whisky world, the angels take their share of whisky from the casks maturing it. In the Caribbean, it's the mischievous Duppy spirits that travel from island to island, taking their share of…  More info

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum
5
$30.10

J. Bally Rhum Agricole Blanc

70cl, 50%
J. Bally

A white rum from the Martinique. This J Bally Blanc was distilled from fresh sugar cane juice in the rhum agricole style.  More info

J. Bally Rhum Agricole Blanc
$29.78

Rhum de Père Labat 40

70cl, 40%
Rhum de Père Labat

A blanc rhum agricole from Père Labat, bottled at 40% ABV. This flavoursome rhum, made with the juice of pressed sugar canes, comes from Marie-Galante, an island just south of Guadeloupe.  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 40
$22.43

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

Sugar cane rhum from Ron Palma Mulata de Cuba aged for three whole years in American oak before being bottled as a blanco 'reserva'.  More info

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old
$20.99

Papa's Pilar 3 Blonde Rum

75cl, 42%
Papa's Pilar

Papa's Pilar 3 Blonde Rum is made with a blend of pot and column still rums from Florida, Central America and the Caribbean, which has been solera aged in bourbon and Port casks, and has been…  More info

Papa's Pilar 3 Blonde Rum
$43.90

Matugga Golden Rum

70cl, 42%
Matugga

Matugga Golden Rum is made using sugar cane molasses produced in East Africa, using canes grown in rich, red soils. The rum is distilled in copper pot stills in the UK, and enjoys its maturation in…  More info

Matugga Golden Rum
3
$40.83

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
$21.32

Lamb's Demerara Navy Rum - 1970s

76cl, 40%
Lamb's

Produced by Lamb's in the 1970s, this is a delicious and very rare Navy-style rum based on oak-aged spirit distilled in Guyana, home to the famous Demerara river.  More info

Lamb's Demerara Navy Rum - 1970s
$147.18

Forsyths White 2015 - Habitation Velier

70cl, 57%
Worthy Park

An independently bottled Jamaican white rum from the Habitation Velier range. This was distilled by Worthy park using their Forsyths still, and has been bottled at 57% ABV.  More info

Forsyths White 2015 - Habitation Velier
$54.18

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
3
$36.45

Plantation Trinidad 2003

70cl, 42%
Plantation

2003 vintage rum from Trinidad, bottled for the excellent Plantation Rum range. This was distilled in column stills and aged in white oak casks before being bottled at 42% ABV.  More info

Plantation Trinidad 2003
$38.23

Plantation Guatemala & Bélize Gran Añejo Rum

70cl, 42%
Plantation

A blended rum from the Plantation range, using rums from Guatemala & Bélize, two neighbouring countries in Central America. Following its initial maturation, it's taken to France to be finished in…  More info

Plantation Guatemala & Bélize Gran Añejo Rum
$29.09

Ron Cartavio Solera 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

A Solera-aged Peruvian rum from Ron Cartavio. This expression was matured for an average of 12 years before being bottled. If you've yet to experience rum from Peru, this warming, coffee-rich delight…  More info

Ron Cartavio Solera 12 Year Old
$42.57

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Cuba Ron

Matured for three years, the Carta Blanca is the youngest rum from the Cuban producers, Ron Cubay. Made exclusively using Cuban molasses, it's a top quality rum for cocktails or even enjoyed neat.  More info

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca
$22.43

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi's classic white rum, just the ticket for those Daiquiris you've been wanting to make. This bottle was produced in the 1970s.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s
$147.18

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve

70cl, 40%
Zafra

This is the Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve rum, an absolutely ace Panamanian rum which was aged in bourbon barrels for just over two decades. Considering is was blended by a former Maestro Ronero…  More info

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve
2
$69.31

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
$43.63

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