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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.

Pumpkin Face 23

75cl, 40%
Pumpkin Face

Well aged rum from the Dominican Republic, released as part of the Pumpkin Face! It was distilled in 1980, aged in oak casks for 23 years and also spent 10 years resting in stainless steel vats…  More info

Pumpkin Face 23
$67.06

NV Caribbean Rhum

70cl, 40%
NV Spirits

The Envy & NV range expanded in 2016 from one Absinthe to a number of different spirits, including this Caribbean white molasses rhum!  More info

NV Caribbean Rhum
$18.95

Doorly's 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

An 8 year old rum from Barbados joins the wonderful Doorly's range! As ever, it's got a tropical bird on the label and the bottle is filled with top-notch rum - dig in!  More info

Doorly's 8 Year Old
$31.50

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
$27.24

Matusalem Solera 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A seven year old 'Solera' rum from Dominican producer Matusalem. Great in cocktails, but more than good enough to be sipped.  More info

Matusalem Solera 7 Year Old
1
$23.22

Trinidad Rum 23 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

From Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range comes a 23 year old rum from an undisclosed distillery in Trinidad, which was distilled in December 1991. Just 338 bottles were produced.  More info

Trinidad Rum 23 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$114.84

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
$41.24

Westerhall No.10 Rum

70cl, 40%
Westerhall

From Grenadian producer Westerhall Estate comes their Rum No.10, launched in mid-2016 to replace their Westerhall Vintage Rum as part of a range redesign. A great rum for enjoying neat or giving your…  More info

Westerhall No.10 Rum
$37.12

Santa Teresa Ron Selecto

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

Venezuelan rum from Santa Teresa, this is a blend of rums aged for between 3 and 9 years. Ron Selecto makes a cracking Mojito…  More info

Santa Teresa Ron Selecto
$25.63

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
$56.73

Facundo Exquisito

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A blend of rums aged 7 to 23 years old from Bacardi's premium Fagundo label, named after the founder of the company. It has been finished for at least a month in Sherry casks.  More info

Facundo Exquisito
$118.67

Westerhall No.5 Rum

70cl, 43%
Westerhall

Replacing the Westerhall Plantation Rum (Westerhall's range underwent a redesign in mid-2016), Westerhall Rum No.5 is a great base for all manner of fruity rum cocktails.  More info

Westerhall No.5 Rum
1
$28.85

Panama Rum 10 Year Old 2006 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 60.5%
Hunter Laing

Single cask 10 year old rum here from an undisclosed distillery in Panama, bottled at cask strength 60.5% - another excellent release from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range. 264 bottles were produced.  More info

Panama Rum 10 Year Old 2006 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$71.31

Plantation Guyana 2005

70cl, 45%
Plantation

Distilled in the Demerara region of Guyana, this is a 2005 vintage pot-still, bourbon barrel-matured rum from Plantation Rum. A deep, earthy expression, featuring notes of cigar box and vanilla on…  More info

Plantation Guyana 2005
1
$43.83

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
$46.41

Origenes Reserva Especial 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

An excellent 18 year old rum, which was created by Francisco 'Don Pancho' Fernandez Perez. Top stuff from an man with many years of experience in crafted high quality rum under his belt.  More info

Origenes Reserva Especial 18 Year Old
$57.25

Worthy Park Gold 1l

100cl, 40%
Worthy Park

A golden rum from Worthy Park Estate in St. Catherine, Jamaica.  More info

Worthy Park Gold 1l
$38.83

Diplomático Añejo

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A supple, medium bodied rum from Diplomático, this Añejo is a blend of both continuous and pot still rums and is aged for around 4 years.  More info

Diplomático Añejo
$23.59

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Spices

70cl, 40%
Bombo

From the Bombo Rum range made in Cornwall, bottled at 40% ABV and flavoured with caramel and a secret combination of tropical spices. Also, got a particularly angry looking skull on it, as opposed to…  More info

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Spices
$25.76

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
$22.84

Brugal XV

70cl, 38%
Brugal

A well aged, well blended rum from top Dominican producers, Brugal. To create the XV, they use a selection of ex-bourbon casks and casks which have previously held Pedro Ximénez Sherry, aged between…  More info

Brugal XV
2
$27.34

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A 12 year old rum from Barbados-based estate, St Nicholas Abbey! Top stuff from a producer with a long history of rum production and a great reputation. Dig in.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old
$120.66

Dictador 100 Months Aged Orange Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Interesting spiced rum from Colombian distillers, Dictador. They use an aged rum as a base, one that has been aged for 100 months (or 8.33333... years, if you prefer) in ex-bourbon casks before…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Orange Rum
1
$38.14

Bacardi Ron Superior Heritage Limited Edition

70cl, 44.5%
Bacardi

A limited edition bottling of Barcardi Superior, in a bottle styled after how the legendary rum was presented over 100 years ago. Not only that, it has been bottled at 44.5% ABV, the original…  More info

Bacardi Ron Superior Heritage Limited Edition
$50.02

Dictador Insolent XO

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador Insolent XO Rum is produced in Columbia and aged in a selection of casks - ex-bourbon, ex-Sherry and Port casks were used to create this sweet, spicy, mocha-rich rum.  More info

Dictador Insolent XO
$80.72

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