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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.

Ron Mulata Añejo 5 Years

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

5 year old Cuban rum distilled in Heriberto Duquesne, Villa Clara. They characteristically produce a lighter style of rum (which the distillery attributed to the rum being matured in 180 litre oak…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 5 Years
$27.39

Enmore Still 1988 (Bottled 2008) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Enmore

A Demerara rum distilled by Enmore in 1988, matured in used bourbon casks until it was bottled by Bristol Spirits in the UK in 2008. Warming and sweet with burnt sugar and spice, followed by a long,…  More info

Enmore Still 1988 (Bottled 2008) - Bristol Spirits
$122.18

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva Gift Pack

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A handsome gift pack of Matusalem 15 Gran Reserve Dominican rum, aged in a Solera system for an average 15 years, along with a branded glass and a spherical ice mould, lovely for keeping the sweet,…  More info

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva Gift Pack
$41.98

Cadenhead's Classic Rum

70cl, 50%
WM Cadenhead

Though known more for their whisky bottlings (they're one of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland!), W.M. Cadenhead also bottle delicious rums, too. This is their Classic Rum, made with…  More info

Cadenhead's Classic Rum
$39.61

Plantation Nicaragua 2003

70cl, 42%
Plantation

2003 vintage Nicaraguan rum, matured for 9 years before enjoying a brandy cask finish. Complex and intriguing with sweet floral touches and notes of cashew nut and tropical fruits. Part of the top…  More info

Plantation Nicaragua 2003
$41.00

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004

70cl, 43.30%
Penny Blue

This is the fourth batch of Penny Blue Rum, produced at Medine, the oldest operational distillery in Mauritius. An excellent expression, made with rums aged between 4 and 11 years old. The Penny Blue…  More info

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004
1
$48.86

Rum-Bar Overproof 1l

100cl, 65%
Worthy Park

A blend of three unaged pot still Jamaican rums distilled and bottled at Worthy Park Estate.  More info

Rum-Bar Overproof 1l
1
$57.29

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Añejo Gran Reserva is a superb Venezuelan rum aged in oak for up to 5 years. Santa Teresa recommend this in cocktails, and it is notable for its delicious aroma.  More info

Santa Teresa Añejo Gran Reserva
2
$23.48

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum

70cl, 41.20%
Plantation

Plantation 3 Stars is a crisp, tasty white rum made by blending spirit produced in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. Some of the rums in the blend are aged, though their colour is removed via a process…  More info

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum
4
$26.99

FAIR. 5 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
FAIR.

5 year old rum made exclusively using Fair Trade certified sugar cane from Belize and matured in Kentucky bourbon barrels before being shipped out to France to be bottled. Made by FAIR., whom created…  More info

FAIR. 5 Year Old Rum
4
$38.37

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project One - Caribbean Rum

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

A blend of three aged Caribbean rums, including well aged and younger rum, from German bottler Spirits of Old Man. Very well presented.  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project One - Caribbean Rum
$54.94

Appleton Estate Signature Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Formerly known as V/X and no longer carrying an age statement, Appleton's signature blend has been aptly renamed Signature Blend. A blend of rums matured in smaller barrels before being married in…  More info

Appleton Estate Signature Blend
$24.33

Foursquare 12 Year Old - Barbados Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 45%
Foursquare

A molasses rum distilled at Foursquare distillery and aged for 12 long years in a single ex-Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel!  More info

Foursquare 12 Year Old - Barbados Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$73.38

Lost Spirits - Cuban Inspired Rum (151 Proof)

75cl, 75.50%
Lost Spirits

Lost Spirits, who previously released an American single malt peated to 110ppm(!), are in the business of understanding the science behind aged spirits. This is their 'Spanish style' rum, made with…  More info

Lost Spirits - Cuban Inspired Rum (151 Proof)
$79.24

Brugal Añejo

70cl, 38%
Brugal

Brugal Anejo is a 5 year old Dominican rum. The company was founded by Andrés Brugal Montaner. The majority of the board members are actually descendants of Montaner.  More info

Brugal Añejo
13
$25.81

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
$152.41

Trois Rivières 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 42%
Trois Rivieres

A rare and delicious 8 year old Rhum Agricole from the Martinique-based Trois Rivières. Very rich and evocative.  More info

Trois Rivières 8 Year Old Rum
$87.84

Ron Cartavio Silver

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

This is the Silver expression of Peruvian rum from Ron Cartavio, matured in oak barrels for 2 years. However, as it's a clear rum, it's well suited to cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Ron Cartavio Silver
$25.73

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

Distilled for the Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, just south of Guadeloupe, this rhum agricole spends 8 years maturing in oak before it is bottled. Rich, simmering spices abound!…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux
$112.54

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

75cl, 49.50%
Smooth Ambler

A marvellously impressive rum released by the chaps at Smooth Ambler out in West Virginia, USA. They've got a good nose for great spirits (as obvious from their Old Scout whiskey), and have bottled…  More info

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum
1
$85.32

Lost Spirits - Polynesian Inspired Rum

75cl, 66%
Lost Spirits

The Lost Spirits distillers out in California made with their own lab grown dunder and low rectification distillation (like their Navy Style rums). Here the result is "possibly the highest density of…  More info

Lost Spirits - Polynesian Inspired Rum
$76.79

Clément 11 Year Old 2004 (cask 20030074) - Single Cask

50cl, 42.80%
Clément

A single cask rhum agricole from Martinican producers, Clément. This 11 year old rhum was drawn from cask #20030074, which was filled in April 2004 and bottled in May 2015 with an outturn of 557…  More info

Clément 11 Year Old 2004 (cask 20030074) - Single Cask
$63.02

Brugal Dry Spiced

70cl, 38%
Brugal

From Brugal in the Dominican Republic comes their dry spiced rum, perfect for cocktails where you want the sweeter notes of rums to step to the side (just a little bit) to allow the simmering spices…  More info

Brugal Dry Spiced
$30.42

Doorlys 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

This white rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados is perfect for a variety of rum-based cocktails.  More info

Doorlys 3 Year Old
$25.41

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

From Dictador distillers in Colombia comes a rum which has been aged for 100 months in ex-bourbon barrels before being filtered though Arabica coffee beans - one of Colombia's many well know goods.…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Cafe Rum
$58.49

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