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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.

WM Cadenhead 8 Year Old Green Label Guatemalan Rum

70cl, 46%
WM Cadenhead

An 8 year old rum from Guatemala, which has been independently bottled by the chaps from WM Cadenhead.  More info

WM Cadenhead 8 Year Old Green Label Guatemalan Rum
$42.61

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
$27.80

Clément XO Rhum Agricole

70cl, 44%
Clément

This Martinique rhum agricole from Clément is a premium release for the brand, featuring vintages that date back to the 1970s and even one that goes back to the 1950s, among other younger vintages.…  More info

Clément XO Rhum Agricole
$169.80

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
$21.40

Doorly's 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

A very tasty Bajan rum, this 5 year old from Doorly's is a balanced spirit, typical of the region, and offers plenty of tropical fruit.  More info

Doorly's 5 Year Old
2
$24.31

Captain Morgan Original Rum

70cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan is a dark rum seen on back-bars seen on back-bars around the world. This is made using a blend of Jamaican, Guyanan and Bajan rums. Great in loads of cocktails and mixed drinks -…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Rum
5
$18.06

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1986

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

A very special release from Guyana's rum experts El Dorado - the 1986 vintage 25 year old Demerara rum. A blend of rums chosen in 2011 by the late George Robinson, master blender, which were then…  More info

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1986
6
$395.97

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A great Nicaraguan rum from Flor de Caña. This 7 year old is great as a mixing rum, and it makes a fantastic cocktail. It is aged in 180 litre white oak barrels, which are only used once before…  More info

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old
4
$24.96

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve was originally just that, a rum reserved for the family! Luckily for us the Seale family, five generations of whom have produced rum at the Foursquare distillery, chose…  More info

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve 12 Year Old
1
$39.74

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
$34.99

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
$46.90

Karukera Gold

70cl, 40%
Karukera

An aged rhum agricole from Guadeloupe producer, Karukera. They suggest that this one works very well in cocktails, so this would be rather handy drink to have on your backbar.  More info

Karukera Gold
$30.89

Matusalem 10 Year Old Clasico

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A Dominican rum, distilled in continuous stills and matured for an average of a decade using the solera system, the brand was started in Cuba in 1872, though eventually it emigrated, following the…  More info

Matusalem 10 Year Old Clasico
$28.28

Mezan Jamaica Worthy Park 2005

70cl, 40%
Worthy Park

A Mezan bottling of Jamaican rum from the Worthy Park Estate, situated in the Vale of Lluidas. Distilled in 2005 and bottled at 40% ABV for the well-loved Mezan selection of independently bottled…  More info

Mezan Jamaica Worthy Park 2005
$38.77

Atlantico Private Cask

70cl, 40%
Atlantico

Atlantico Private Cask is a rich, thick blend of small batch rums, aged up to 25 years old. Oak, dark berry and toffee notes a-plenty. Also, the Atlantico brand is endorsed by the singer Enrique…  More info

Atlantico Private Cask
4
$39.47

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
$33.84

El Dorado 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A more recent part of the El Dorado range, this is aged in bourbon barrels and offers a heavier body than the 5 year old, but still not as heavy as the 12 and 15, making this a great mixing rum,…  More info

El Dorado 8 Year Old
1
$27.50

Martinique 12 Year Old - Anniversary Edition Rhum Agricole (Rum Nation)

70cl, 43%
Martinique

A beautifully presented 12 year old Martinique rhum agricole (made from cane juice) from Rum Nation. Wicked skills.  More info

Martinique 12 Year Old - Anniversary Edition Rhum Agricole (Rum Nation)
1
$90.09

Relicario Ron Dominicano Gift Pack

70cl, 40%
Relicario

Tasty, handsomely packaged Dominican rum complete with two branded tumbler glasses in this neat set. A perfect present!  More info

Relicario Ron Dominicano Gift Pack
$32.69

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

A Gold award winner at the 2003 International Rum Festival Awards. Gosling's Gold is a blend of pot still and continuous still spirits from Bermuda, aged for around five years.  More info

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum
3
$22.31

Ron Abuelo XV - Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

An interesting expression from Panamanian Rum range Ron Abuelo - a well-aged expression which has been given a finishing period in casks that previously contained Napoleon Cognac! Ought to be a…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Napoleon Cognac Cask Finish
$69.21

Monymusk 12 Year Old 2003 (cask 2) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 52.1%
Monymusk

A single cask bottling of 12 year old rum from the Monymusk distillery in Jamaica, distilled in August 2003 and bottled in February 2016 by Duncan Taylor with an outturn of 194 bottles.  More info

Monymusk 12 Year Old 2003 (cask 2) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$71.50

Plantation Nicaragua 2004

70cl, 42%
Plantation

The Plantation range of vintage rums is an exciting selection of spirits distilled and matured in different rum-producing countries, which go on to mature further in France, where Maison Ferrand (the…  More info

Plantation Nicaragua 2004
$43.78

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
$24.17

Clairin Sajous 2013

70cl, 53.5%
Distillerie Chelo

A Haitian style of rhum agricole here from the Clairin Sajous, made using sugar cane juice which has been reduced over fires of the remains of the sugar cane and fermented using wild yeasts (a bit…  More info

Clairin Sajous 2013
$46.91

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