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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.

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez

70cl, 40%
Williams & Humbert

A 'double aged' rum, although it could be considered to be triple aged. Rums from Barbados and Guyana are matured for five years in the Caribbean before being transported to Jerez where they are…  More info

Dos Maderas 5+5 Pedro Ximenez
3
$45.09

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Jefferson's

Jefferson's 1785 is a rich, enjoyable and good value for money dark rum, perfect for mixing and sipping over ice. Of course, it's named after one of the American Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.  More info

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum
$34.92

Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum

75cl, 40%
Pumpkin Face

An aged edition of Pumpkin Face rum! Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum is made with a blend of rums from the Dominican Republic, some of which has been aged for quite a while indeed. Of course, it has once…  More info

Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum
$59.47

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
4
$44.03

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35%
Old J

Based around the vibrant flavours of Persian lime and vanilla paired with classic rum notes, Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink (technically it's not a rum, as its ABV is under 37.5%) goes great over ice…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
2
$20.61

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend

70cl, 43%
Ron Barceló

A limited edition bottling of Ron Barceló, created in celebration of 30 years production. Every year since 1980, Miguel Barceló has set aside private reserves of his rum for two extra years of…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend
1
$85.74

East London Liquor Company Navy Strength Demerara Rum

70cl, 57%
East London Liquor Company

A higher-strength bottling of East London Liquor Company's Demerara rum from Guyana, which is distilled in a two column Coffey still. At Navy Strength, this is sure to stand out in cocktails and…  More info

East London Liquor Company Navy Strength Demerara Rum
$61.68

Takamaka Bay White Rum

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Bay

A white rum from the Seychelles-based Takamaka Bay rum range. Crisp and subtly sweet, this'll make the perfect base for cocktails and mixed drinks...  More info

Takamaka Bay White Rum
$28.64

Opthimus 15 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

An excellent Solera-aged rum from the Opthimus range, produced by Oliver y Oliver.  More info

Opthimus 15 Rum
$49.69

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc 1l

100cl, 59%
Distillerie Bielle

A 1 litre bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum Bielle on the small island of Marie-Galante, which you'll find just south of Guadeloupe. Bottled at 59% ABV, this is an intense rhum, packed with…  More info

Bielle Rhum Agricole Blanc 1l
$48.00

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

An interesting blend of rum made with sugar cane juice and rum made with molasses, which is then aged for 10 years in oak barrels. A Mexican spirit, the "Los Valientes" rum comes from the phrase…  More info

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum
$26.33

Sailor Jerry

70cl, 40%
Sailor Jerry

A spiced rum created by the famed tattoo artist 'Sailor Jerry' Collins. This is perhaps our favourite spiced rum, makes an incredible spiced mojito! The recipe was recently changed, and made slightly…  More info

Sailor Jerry
79
$22.17

WeiRon

70cl, 50%
Svenska Eldvatten

The Svenska Eldvatten chaps have only gone and created their own rum! Not content to only bottle rum for their Rum Swedes range, they've blended their own using aged rums from the Caribbean. A…  More info

WeiRon
1
$49.55

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
$32.46

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
$21.86

The Rum Advent Calendar (2015 Edition)

72cl, 41.80%
Drinks by the Dram

You may not have given it much thought before, but imagine what would happen if you swapped Santa's hat for a pirate's hat. It would kind of suit him, wouldn't it? Now swap that prosthetic hand for…  More info

The Rum Advent Calendar (2015 Edition)
$165.28

Legendario Ron Dorado

70cl, 38%
Legendario

Great for cocktails and mixed drinks, Legendario's Ron Dorado is a subtly sweet, seductive Cuban rum. Should make for a good Palmetto, we reckon.  More info

Legendario Ron Dorado
$24.97

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
$27.49

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
$24.62

Clarkes Court #37 Limited Edition

70cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This blended Caribbean rum is the thirteenth limited release rum from Clarkes Court. The rum was designed to be supplied to exclusive social events and it has a rich and rewarding flavour thanks to…  More info

Clarkes Court #37 Limited Edition
2
$54.59

Worthy Park 10 Year Old 2005 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Worthy Park

'Kill Devil' was a term used on the Caribbean islands to describe distilled spirits in the 17th and 18th century. Whether that's because it appeared to be dark magic or whether it was supposed to…  More info

Worthy Park 10 Year Old 2005 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$59.51

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.
$55.06

Ron Botran Añejo 12

70cl, 40%
Botran

A blend of delicious Guatemalan rums between 5 and 12 years old.  More info

Ron Botran Añejo 12
$29.40

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Part of the Dictador 100 Months range, this is the Amber expression, which is aged for 100 months (hence the name) in ex-bourbon barrels before it is bottled. It's a yummy Colombian rum well suited…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Amber Rum
1
$51.29

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
9
$33.28

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