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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.

Legendario Añejo

70cl, 40%
Legendario

A blend of different aged Cuban rums up to 6 years old, flavoured with a little Muscatel wine and married for 15 days in American oak barrels before finally being filtered through carbon and silica…  More info

Legendario Añejo
1
$28.93

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum

70cl, 40%
Kikusui Shuzo

When you think of rum, what's the first country that comes to mind? That's right, Japan! Well that's exactly where this Ryoma 7 year old rum is from. The sugarcane used to make the Ryoma is grown by…  More info

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum
3
$56.88

Expedition Superior Light White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
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
$14.43

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Three - Dark Expression

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

The third release in the Rum Project range by German bottlers Spirits of Old Man is the Dark Expression, a blend of three Caribbean rums with a focus on rich notes of chocolate and coffee notes,…  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Three - Dark Expression
$46.62

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
$38.72

Chamarel VSOP 4 Year Old Rum

70cl, 44%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole from south-western Mauritius, aged in oak barrels for 4 years prior to careful blending on site. Expect fresh vanilla, sweet stone fruit and dried grass notes from this…  More info

Chamarel VSOP 4 Year Old Rum
8
$46.58

Ron Pampero Aniversario

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

A delicious dark rum from Ron Pampero, this is made in continuous stills in Venezuela. It's full, rich and very fruity.  More info

Ron Pampero Aniversario
8
$31.11

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum

70cl, 57%
Smith and Cross

A Navy Strength edition of the classic Smith and Cross Jamaica rum, this stuff is beautiful for sipping neat, and works tremendously well with a couple of ice cubes and a squeeze of lime juice.  More info

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum
4
$33.77

Ron Viejo De Caldas 3 Year Old

70cl, 37.5%
Caldas

This is a 3 year old rum from the Ron Viejo De Caldas range, produced in Colombia. Good value for money, and works well in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Ron Viejo De Caldas 3 Year Old
$18.48

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
La Mauny

La Mauny 1749 Ambré is an aged Rhum Agricole from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean. 1749 Ambré is matured for at least 12 months before it is bottled.  More info

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole
$28.71

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

An indulgent 15 year old rum from Ron Mulata, produced in Cuba, exclusively making use of their top quality Cuban cane syrup. It has been aged in 180 litre oak casks, which the distillers say give it…  More info

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo
2
$56.34

Plantation Original Dark Overproof

70cl, 73%
Plantation

A staggering overproof rum sourced from Trinidad and created by the Cognac Ferrand estate. This stuff is bottled at 73% abv and is aged in young bourbon casks before bottling.  More info

Plantation Original Dark Overproof
1
$36.78

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate Reserve no longer carries an 8 year old age statement, but is still an excellent dark rum that offers great value.  More info

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
3
$25.30

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
$18.46

Papagayo Organic & Fair Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
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
$20.64

Rhum J.M Vintage 2003

70cl, 44.8%
Rhum J.M

2003 vintage rhum agricole from Martinique. Rhum J.M vintages are usually aged for around 10 years, with this release having actually been aged for 11 years in re-charred bourbon barrels.  More info

Rhum J.M Vintage 2003
$97.32

Banks 5 Island Rum

70cl, 43%
Banks

Banks 5 Island is a blend of five rums from distilleries in Trinidad, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They add a little Batavia Arrack from Java and the result is a beautiful cocktail rum. Highly…  More info

Banks 5 Island Rum
$42.27

Mocambo 15 Year Old

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

Produced in Mexico by Licores Veracruz, Mocambo is a delicious dark rum, matured in European white oak and bottled unblended, as a single barrel product. This is a medium-bodied, 15 year old rum.  More info

Mocambo 15 Year Old
$24.31

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
$29.46

El Ron Prohibido Rum

70cl, 40%
Cervecera Mexicana

El Ron Prohibido, is a Mexican rum which is made of a blend of rums of different ages, blended with used raisin wine barrels - an intriguing choice that pays off with distinctive bitter-sweet notes…  More info

El Ron Prohibido Rum
5
$27.33

Caribbean Jack Rum

50cl, 43%
Caribbean Jack

Caribbean Jack Rum is a very well presented rum from Trinidad. How well presented is it, I hear you ask? Well, take a look to the left of these words and you'll see it comes in a bottle with the…  More info

Caribbean Jack Rum
$41.35

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
$21.25

Saint James Heritage

70cl, 40%
Saint James

Saint James Heritage is a blend of rums from six different locations - Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Trinidad.  More info

Saint James Heritage
$17.04

Clément Blanc Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
Clément

An unaged rhum agricole produced by Martinque in Clément. Intense, herbal and works well in cocktails.  More info

Clément Blanc Rhum Agricole
$23.75

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
$41.35

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