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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.

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
$49.64

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A magnum of the classic Carta Blanca white rum from Bacardi. First created by Don Facundo Bacardi, a Spaniard who travelled to Cuba as a teenager.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l
4
$56.19

Legendario Añejo

70cl, 40%
Legendario

A blend of different aged Cuban rums up to 6 years old, flavoured with a little Muscatel wine and married for 15 days in American oak barrels before finally being filtered through carbon and silica…  More info

Legendario Añejo
1
$30.81

Doorly's 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

The 12 year old Doorly's Rum has finally made it to our shores! Top stuff from a top range, expect masses of tropical fruit, chewy caramel, leafy tobacco and fragrant oak notes throughout gorgeous…  More info

Doorly's 12 Year Old
3
$39.84

Blended Caribbean Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 40%
Hunter Laing

A blended Caribbean rum from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range, which also contains a number of single cask releases. This will be an ongoing release, and it's rather good.  More info

Blended Caribbean Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$25.29

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

The 12 year old Real McCoy rum, matured in heavily charred bourbon barrels. Rich and oak-y, with bundles of Christmas cake, Demerara sugar and pipe tobacco notes. The 'Real McCoy' name is based on…  More info

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old
$48.23

Dos Maderas Luxus

70cl, 40%
Williams & Humbert

Similar to the Dos Maderas 5+3, except this would be called 'Dos Maderas 10+5' under that naming convention (Bajan and Gyanese rums aged for ten years in the Caribbean before being transported to…  More info

Dos Maderas Luxus
$130.80

Plantation Panama 2004

70cl, 42%
Plantation

An independent bottling of rich, spicy 2004 vintage rum from Panama, presented as part of the Plantation Rum range. Enjoy neat or over ice to enjoy the full-bodied flavour profile, which pairs sweet…  More info

Plantation Panama 2004
$40.50

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
$28.82

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
$27.83

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Fourth Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

Back in 1931, the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. This year is honoured by St. Lucia Distillers (who were formed by the merger of the Dennery Distillery and other distillery in 1972)…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Fourth Edition
$68.29

Ron Cubay 10 Year Old - Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Cuba Ron

Wonderful Cuban rum which has enjoyed a rather lengthy maturation (for a rum). 10 years in the cask has given this beauty bags of character, flavour and an glorious mahogany hue.  More info

Ron Cubay 10 Year Old - Reserva Especial
2
$42.93

Ron Mulata Añejo 5 Years

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

5 year old Cuban rum distilled in Heriberto Duquesne, Villa Clara. They characteristically produce a lighter style of rum (which the distillery attributed to the rum being matured in 180 litre oak…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 5 Years
1
$24.75

Elements 8 Cacao Rum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

A premium St. Lucian rum infused with criollo cacao beans, which would work well in a variety of cocktails.  More info

Elements 8 Cacao Rum
$33.05

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

A Magnum bottling of very well-aged rum from Peruvian producer, Ron Millonario. If you've not tried Peruvian rum before, well, this would be a very good place to start. Masses of sweet, well-rounded…  More info

Ron Millonario XO - Magnum (1.5L)
1
$225.44

Trois Rivieres VSOP

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

The Trois Rivieres VSOP expression is allowed to mature for at least 5 years, resulting in a well flavoured, rich rhum agricole. This comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.  More info

Trois Rivieres VSOP
$53.50

SangSom

70cl, 40%
SangSom

SangSom is a Thai rum that gained great popularity in the 1980's, thankfully it is once again beginning to get a lot more attention internationally. SangSom is made from sugar cane molasses and is…  More info

SangSom
4
$17.47

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
$71.60

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron 1l

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A Travel Retail bottling of Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron, a made with rum aged up to three years and slow filtered through coconut shell charcoal. The label calls it a "sipping rum", and it is…  More info

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron 1l
$44.26

Appleton Estate Signature Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Formerly known as V/X and no longer carrying an age statement, Appleton's signature blend has been aptly renamed Signature Blend. A blend of rums matured in smaller barrels before being married in…  More info

Appleton Estate Signature Blend
$21.98

Dictador Solera XO Perpetual

70cl, 40%
Dictador

A premium Columbian Solera rum from Dictador, complete with their European design and Japanese bottles. This XO release is aged in the finest oak casks and brought down to 40% abv with demineralised…  More info

Dictador Solera XO Perpetual
3
$93.45

Caribbean Blended Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 46%
Duncan Taylor

A blended rum from 2001 - bottled by Duncan Taylor.  More info

Caribbean Blended Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$66.03

Mezan Trinidad Caroni 1999 Rum

70cl, 40%
Caroni

All the way from gorgeous Trinidad comes this 1999 vintage rum, distilled by Caroni and bottled by Mezan. Independently bottled rum isn't a regular sight on these shores, so it's always a treat when…  More info

Mezan Trinidad Caroni 1999 Rum
$40.84

Monymusk Overproof White Rum

70cl, 63%
Monymusk

An overproof white rum produced in Jamaica by the Monymusk Estate. Triple distilled and bottled at 63% ABV, this will certainly stand out in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Monymusk Overproof White Rum
$32.64

Diplomático Ambassador

70cl, 47%
Diplomático

Diplomatico's flagship, the Ambassador was created by Tito Cordero, Golden Barrel Award's 2011 Master Rum Blender of the Year. Expect huge juicy sweetness and flavour thanks to its maturation in…  More info

Diplomático Ambassador
3
$215.60

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