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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.

XM VXO Rum 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Banks DIH

7 year old Guyanan rum, VXO offers incredible flavours of winter spice, chocolate and tropical fruit.  More info

XM VXO Rum 7 Year Old
2
$28.69

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Extra

70cl, 43%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate 12 is a blend of rums aged for between 12 and 18 years. Dave Broom describes this as "the finest aged rum from Jamaica"!  More info

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Extra
13
$39.63

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

Long-aged Cuban rum - yum yum yum... This is the 20 year old expression from the Santiago de Cuba range, named after the second largest city in Cuba. Not often seen on these shores, but very…  More info

Santiago De Cuba 20 Year Old Extra Añejo
$137.32

Don Q Gran Añejo

70cl, 40%
Serralles

A blend of 6 to 12 year old Puerto Rican rum from the Don Q range. At the top end of their range, the Gran Añejo is very exciting stuff indeed. Enjoy neat or even over a few ice cubes on a warm…  More info

Don Q Gran Añejo
$59.03

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
$133.46

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole

70cl, 42%
Clément

Don't miss out on the first Clément 15 Year Old, a fine rhum agricole which a huge proportion lost to 'the angels' share'!  More info

Clément 15 Year Old Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole
$122.73

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
$44.83

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection

70cl, 40%
Angostura

The second release of Angostura's Cask Collection No.1 is a 16 year old rum from Trinidad which was allowed to age for 10 years in American oak casks before being transferred over to once-used French…  More info

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection
$101.29

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
$22.99

Long Pond 15 Year Old 2000 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Long Pond Distillery

This single cask Jamaican rum was distilled in June 2000 and bottled over 15 years later by Hunter Laing. It's part of their fantastic looking Kill Devil range!  More info

Long Pond 15 Year Old 2000 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$71.24

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
$107.97

Ron Barceló Gran Añejo

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

A beautifully smooth, sweet Dominican rum from Ron Barceló, Gran Añejo is a perfect mixer and works tremendously well in a variety of dark rum cocktails, or you could just have it with a few ice…  More info

Ron Barceló Gran Añejo
2
$24.85

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
$25.29

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
$23.65

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
$47.05

Bacardi Reserva

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

This is a fairly rare golden rum from, veteran rum producer Bacardi. This rum has been aged in oak casks and has been charcoal filtered.  More info

Bacardi Reserva
$38.46

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

An impressive, well aged Flor de Caña single estate rum, made with spirits which have been aged for at least 25 years. A stunning, radiant hue makes it a wonder to look at, and it tastes as good as…  More info

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old
$137.72

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
$11.55

Dictador 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Produced in Colombia, this delicious Solera rum from Dictador, aged for between 8 and 14 years, with an average age of 12 years. The rum is diluted to bottling strength with demineralised water which…  More info

Dictador 12 Year Old
3
$39.95

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
$42.17

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
$45.45

Diamond Distillery 1998 - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Diamond Distillery

This is a 1998 vintage Demerara rum from Guyana's Diamond Distillery, independently bottled by Bristol Spirits in the UK. A mellow, sippable rum which works well over ice or in cocktails.  More info

Diamond Distillery 1998 - Bristol Spirits
1
$69.87

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
$19.66

St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

The St. Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old Barbados rum is the first from the range which was distilled and aged entirely on the estate! Should be an fascinating tipple...  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 5 Year Old
$68.99

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
$21.72

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