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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.

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Two - Spiced Orange

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

Spirits of Old Man's Project Two is made from three rums aged between 4 and 14 years, with the younger rum adding spice and vitality to the richer, more complex older rums.  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Two - Spiced Orange
$46.57

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)
$115.03

Trois Rivières Cuvee De L’Ocean

70cl, 42%
Trois Rivieres

This rhum agricole from Trois Rivières is a rather interesting expression. It's made with sugar cane grown in fields on the south coast of Martinique, very close to the sea, which imparts a subtle…  More info

Trois Rivières Cuvee De L’Ocean
$33.09

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
$35.59

Desilver White Rum

70cl, 40%
DeSilver

White spiced rum? Now I've seen everything! That's right, the DeSilver White Rum is made with a selection of "secret spices" from St. Barth and carries a story about the pirate named DeSilver from…  More info

Desilver White Rum
$28.90

Nicaraguan Rum 11 Year Old 2004 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

An 11 year old Nicaraguan rum from an undisclosed distillery, drawn from a single cask which was filled in 2004. It was bottled with an outturn of 337 bottles by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil…  More info

Nicaraguan Rum 11 Year Old 2004 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$59.78

East London Liquor Company Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Demerara Distillers Ltd

Released by the East London Liquor Company, this is a Guyanese Demerara Rum that has rather interestingly been distilled in a wooden Coffey still - the only surviving wooden column still in the…  More info

East London Liquor Company Demerara Rum
$26.11

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old
1
$25.29

Elements 8 Platinum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This white/platinum rum is matured for 4 years in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, blended from over 10 different rums. Element 8 is diluted with naturally filtered rainforest water.  More info

Elements 8 Platinum
$31.38

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
$23.61

Rational Spirits Cuban Inspired Rum (141 Proof)

75cl, 70.5%
Rational Spirits

A Cuban-inspired rum from the Rational Spirits folks, made with Grade A molasses, pot distillation and maturation in charred and toasted new American oak casks. This one has been bottled at 141…  More info

Rational Spirits Cuban Inspired Rum (141 Proof)
$62.54

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
$36.15

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A white rum which needs very little introduction, Bacardi's Carta Blanca is incredible popular indeed, seen on backbars around the world. The Bacardi brand originated in Cuba, and the first…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
$19.30

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
$51.57

New Grove Oak Aged Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

From the beautiful Island of Mauritius, all the way out in the Indian Ocean, comes the cracking New Grove Oak Aged Rum. A spicy, sensual blend of rums aged between 1 and 15 years. Perfect on ice for…  More info

New Grove Oak Aged Rum
$31.29

Sweden Rock Extra Old Rum - 25 Year Anniversary

70cl, 40%
Herman Jansen

A limited edition Guyanese rum released in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Sweden Rock Festival, held yearly in Norje. Very handsomely packaged, with a presentation box designed to look…  More info

Sweden Rock Extra Old Rum - 25 Year Anniversary
1
$94.69

Porfidio Triple Distilled Plata Rum

70cl, 45%
Porfidio

From the Porfidio range comes a triple distilled white rum, presented in a bottle which features a glass palm tree in the middle - just like how their triple distilled agave spirit has a glass cactus…  More info

Porfidio Triple Distilled Plata Rum
$39.78

Chamarel XO Rum

70cl, 43%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single domaine rhum agricole aged for 6 years in French oak, Charamel XO is a family favourite for the producer.  More info

Chamarel XO Rum
$72.34

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 7 year old rum from Panama made by Varela-Hermanos. Ron Abuelo is made using distillery grown sugar cane and is aged in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo 7 Year Old
2
$26.32

Chamarel VS Rum

70cl, 40%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

This is the VS expression of Chamarel rhum agricole, distilled in Mauritius using sugarcane which they cultivate themselves.  More info

Chamarel VS Rum
$42.35

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

A 7 year old rhum agricole from the J. Bally range produced on the island of Martinique. This comes in a pyramid-shaped bottle - pyramids are rather sturdy three-dimensional shapes, and are indeed…  More info

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$44.14

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hampden

Another handsome Kill Devil rum bottled by Hunter Laing, this time from Hampden Estate in Jamaica. 316 bottles were produced.  More info

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$64.00

Bacardi 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi's premium rum release, the 8 year old is blended with rums aged for between 8 and 16 years.  More info

Bacardi 8 Year Old
8
$27.35

Doorly's XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

A six year old blend of rums from Barbados, Doorly's XO is finished in an Oloroso sherry cask, which adds a lovely character.  More info

Doorly's XO Rum
14
$29.61

St Aubin Natural Spices Rhum Agricole

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

From the artisan St Aubin distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this spiced Rhum Agricole, made using sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses, which is what you would find in most other spiced…  More info

St Aubin Natural Spices Rhum Agricole
1
$26.29

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