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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, 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.

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
$49.52

Takamaka Bay Overproof Rum

70cl, 72%
Takamaka Bay

This is Takamaka bay's Overproof Rum, distilled in the Seychelles. As ever with overproof spirits, this should be well-diluted before enjoying - it ought to work wonderfully in mixed drinks and…  More info

Takamaka Bay Overproof Rum
$43.66

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A handsomely packaged, beautiful little rum from El Dorado (one of our all-time favourites when it comes to Rum). This 5 year old Gold rum is fruity, rich and intensely buttery, and we have a feeling…  More info

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum
1
$25.82

Travellers Distillery 10 Year Old 2005 Belize Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Travellers Distillery

A single cask rum from the Travellers Distillery in Belize, bottled by Hunter Laing for their excellent Kill Devil range. It was distilled in 2005 and bottled at 10 years old, with 377 bottles…  More info

Travellers Distillery 10 Year Old 2005 Belize Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$60.00

Santa Teresa Linaje

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An Extra Añejo Gran Reserva rum from Venezuelan producer Santa Teresa. Enjoy neat or is perfect over ice with mineral water or soda.  More info

Santa Teresa Linaje
$28.55

Westerhall No.3 Rum

70cl, 40%
Westerhall

The entry-level expression from Westerhall Estate's range, which was redesigned in mid-2016, is their Westerhall Rum No.3 (which replaces the Westerhall Superb Light). An elegant, sweet rum from…  More info

Westerhall No.3 Rum
$28.28

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
$24.33

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Extra Dry

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

The producers recommend Flor de Caña Extra Dry as a mixing rum. It is a well-made expression and has won ten international awards, notably a Platinum Award and Gold medal at the 2003 International…  More info

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Extra Dry
1
$24.33

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old

50cl, 43%
Licores Veracruz

Named for the heroes of the Mexican revolution, with 'Los Valientes' meaning 'the valiant' or 'the brave', this is the oldest release in the series at 20 years old. The rum itself is unusually made…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old
$49.19

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
$28.62

Havana Club Ritual Cubano

70cl, 37.50%
Havana Club

Havana Club's Ritual Cubano was originally released for the Spanish market, where you'll often see dark rum being mixed with Coke. As such, this particular expression was made to be mixed with said…  More info

Havana Club Ritual Cubano
$37.33

Florida Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Florida Distillers

Made with Florida sugar cane and distilled in Florida, this rum does what it says on the tin! It's rested in American oak barrels before the final filtration. Perfect for mojitos.  More info

Florida Rum
$18.84

Ron Botran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Botran

Botran Reserva is a delicious Guatemalan rum aged for between 5 and 14 years. Made from the best virgin sugar honey, this rum is aged in a Solera system in a mix of bourbon, port and sherry casks.  More info

Ron Botran Reserva
4
$40.06

Banks 7 Island Rum

70cl, 43%
Banks

This is a follow-up to the successful Banks 5 Island Rum which is a blend of rums from five Caribbean islands, the Banks 7 Islands is unsurprisingly a blend of rums from seven Caribbean islands.…  More info

Banks 7 Island Rum
$48.96

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
$54.57

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
1
$26.88

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
$43.38

St Aubin Blanc

50cl, 50%
St Aubin

St Aubin Rhum Agricole comes from Mauritius, and is made by distilling fresh sugar cane juice in the French method. St Aubin itself has been in the business of sugar production since 1819, and…  More info

St Aubin Blanc
1
$38.24

St Nicholas Abbey 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St Nicholas Abbey

18 year old rum from Barbados, produced as part of the St. Nicholas Abbey range - the Abbey itself has a long tradition of rum production, and they favour traditional methods of distillation when…  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 18 Year Old
$214.19

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a 3 year old rhum agricole, distilled for Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, using fresh sugar cane juice. Oodles of fruity, floral notes (this grapefruit, mango and…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux
$54.84

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
$44.04

Ron Dominicano Relicario

70cl, 40%
Ron Dominicano

Superb rum from the Dominican Republic, with a very handsome bottle and wonderfully full-bodied flavour profile.  More info

Ron Dominicano Relicario
$34.49

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

The Carta Blanca rum from Santiago de Cuba is a molasses-based rum which is initially aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling, removing the colour but not the flavour (making it a good choice…  More info

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca
$27.13

Cubaney Exquisito 21 Year Old 1988 - Grand Reserve X.O.

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

This is the Ron Cubaney Exquisito, a richly flavoursome rum from the Dominican Republic which has enjoyed a lengthy amount of time maturing in a Solera system. Really excellent stuff, this.  More info

Cubaney Exquisito 21 Year Old 1988 - Grand Reserve X.O.
$54.93

Ron Esclavo XO Solera

70cl, 42%
Ron Esclavo

Ron Esclavo is a rum that's name makes reference to sugar cane growing's terrible past, with Esclavo being the Spanish word for 'slave'. It's said to pay homage to all those who suffered. A Solera…  More info

Ron Esclavo XO Solera
$64.59

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