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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.

Mezan Jamaica XO Gift Pack with 2x Glasses

70cl, 40%
Mezan

A tasty Jamaican rum from the Mezan range, presented in a set which would make for a delicious gift! This include a full 70cl bottle of Mezan Jamaica XO and two glasses.  More info

Mezan Jamaica XO Gift Pack with 2x Glasses
$41.07

Caribbean Jack Rum

50cl, 43%
Caribbean Jack

Caribbean Jack Rum is a very well presented rum from Trinidad. How well presented is it, I hear you ask? Well, take a look to the left of these words and you'll see it comes in a bottle with the…  More info

Caribbean Jack Rum
$43.92

Old Salt Rum

50cl, 42%
English Vodka Company

The Old Salt Rum is one of very few rums to be produced in the United Kingdom and is made from a careful selection of molasses and raw sugar cane in Cambridge.  More info

Old Salt Rum
5
$35.18

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
$36.31

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
$27.42

FAIR. 11 Year Old Rum

70cl, 50.70%
FAIR.

Ooh, the FAIR. folks have release an even older rum than their last one (the excellent 10 Year Old)! The FAIR 11 Year Old rum from Belize is made with Fair Trade certified sugar cane, and features…  More info

FAIR. 11 Year Old Rum
$64.23

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
$136.99

English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

A well-aged Antiguan rum, blended from rums aged between 10 and 25 years. This was matured in bourbon barrels.  More info

English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old
2
$77.83

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Cuba Ron

Matured for three years, the Carta Blanca is the youngest rum from the Cuban producers, Ron Cubay. Made exclusively using Cuban molasses, it's a top quality rum for cocktails or even enjoyed neat.  More info

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca
$24.13

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
$21.81

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
$33.20

St Nicholas Abbey 15 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey in Barbados won Best Distillery at Rumfest 2012, whilst this rare single cask 15 year old offering won a Gold at the Rum Masters.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 15 Year Old
$162.73

Plantation Guatemala & Bélize Gran Añejo Rum

70cl, 42%
Plantation

A blended rum from the Plantation range, using rums from Guatemala & Bélize, two neighbouring countries in Central America. Following its initial maturation, it's taken to France to be finished in…  More info

Plantation Guatemala & Bélize Gran Añejo Rum
$31.30

Ron Abuelo Centuria

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A rare rum blend made in Panama, Ron Abuelo Centuria is aged in Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels in the solera method. Some of the rums are as old as 30 years, and the flavour is astonishingly rich and…  More info

Ron Abuelo Centuria
8
$134.98

Old Port East Indian Rum

70cl, 40%
Amrut

A double charcoal-filtered rum produced in India. Packaged in a distinct bell-shaped bottle.  More info

Old Port East Indian Rum
1
$20.90

Chamarel Premium White Rum

70cl, 42%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single estate Mauritian white rum, made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses. Although unaged, it is regularly stirred in stainless steel vats for at least six months prior to bottling, a…  More info

Chamarel Premium White Rum
2
$29.63

St Lucia 14 Year Old 2000 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

Rum distilled in 2000 on the beautiful island of St Lucia, whose motto is the reassuring "The Land, The People, The Light". After a 14 year maturation, it was bottled in the UK by Berry Bros & Rudd.  More info

St Lucia 14 Year Old 2000 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$94.82

Matusalem 23 Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

This is Matusalem's premium expression of Solera aged rum, the 23 Gran Reserva. The company was once based in Cuba, but have since moved to the Dominican Republic. They Solera age the majority of…  More info

Matusalem 23 Gran Reserva
1
$60.42

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
$37.84

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
4
$38.77

J. Bally 12 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

12 year old rhum agricole from Martinique in the Bally brand's famous pyramid-shaped bottle!  More info

J. Bally 12 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$59.96

Green Island Spiced Gold Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Green Island

A lovely spiced rum from Mauritius, Green Island Gold is fabulous in a Dirty Mojito!  More info

Green Island Spiced Gold Rum
2
$28.75

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
80
$22.23

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

A well-aged agricole rum (or rhum) from Guadeloupe, which is part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Interesting fact: World Cup and European Championship winning French footballer Lilian…  More info

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$102.05

Francisco Montero 50th Anniversary Rum

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

A rich expression from Ron Francisco Montero, who have been producing rum since 1963. It was released in 2013, marking their 50th anniversary. The rum features spirits aged for at least 10 years.  More info

Francisco Montero 50th Anniversary Rum
$83.51

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