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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.

Ron Centenario 20

70cl, 40%
Centenario International

Costa Rican rum aged for up to 20 years in a solera system of American oak barrels. Produced by Centenario Internacional whose rums weren't available outside of Costa Rica until 2007!  More info

Ron Centenario 20
$66.28

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
$26.72

Mariënburg Rum

70cl, 81%
Suriname Alcoholic Beverages

A white rum from Suriname, the smallest country in South America and the birthplace of Dutch footballers Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf and Aron Winter! Although also bottled at an eye-watering 90%,…  More info

Mariënburg Rum
$48.33

Angostura Reserva

70cl, 37.50%
Angostura

3 year old white rum from Trinidad, this is distilled in Angostura's 5-column still, and is aged in American oak bourbon barrels.  More info

Angostura Reserva
3
$23.30

Botran Ron Añejo Reserva

70cl, 40%
Botran

A Solera-matured Guatemalan rum from the Botran range. The Solera which this treat aged in was comprised of white oak and American whiskey casks which had previously been home to Port and Sherry.…  More info

Botran Ron Añejo Reserva
$33.49

Trois Rivières 12 Year Old Rum

70cl, 42%
Trois Rivieres

Here's a treat. 12 year old rhum agricole from Trois Rivières in Martinique!  More info

Trois Rivières 12 Year Old Rum
$113.51

Cuvée Homère Clément

70cl, 44%
Clément

A stunning expression from Clément, made from well-aged, specially selected vintages of rhum argicole from the Martinique distiller's stocks. The name itself comes from the founder of the distillery,…  More info

Cuvée Homère Clément
$118.29

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
$77.86

Don Q Cristal

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The entry level expression from the Don Q rum range - the Don Q Cristal is made using multiple distillation method to achieve its desired flavour profile, and allowed to rest in American oak barrels…  More info

Don Q Cristal
$28.85

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
$44.37

Myers's Rum

70cl, 40%
Myers's Rum

A dark rum that works well in cocktails, Myer's Rum is a Jamaican rum named after Fred L Myers who created that brand in 1879. It is a blend of 9 different rums.  More info

Myers's Rum
6
$24.23

Rum Nation Barbados 12 Year Old Anniversary Edition

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

A step up from the 10 year old rum from Barbados bottled by Rum Nation, the 12 year old presented by the Italian company treads the same waters (heavily herbaceous, with a focus on mint), though with…  More info

Rum Nation Barbados 12 Year Old Anniversary Edition
$92.93

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
$39.88

Watson's Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Ian Macleod

A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.  More info

Watson's Demerara Rum
3
$22.59

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

St Aubin Agricole Rhum Vanilla is a delicious, laid back rum combined with vanilla grown on the St Aubin plantations in Mauritius. The sugary addition from the vanilla makes this an excellent rum for…  More info

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla
$32.77

Ron Cubay Añejo

70cl, 38%
Cuba Ron

Enjoyed in Cuba since the 1960s, the rest of the world is finally getting to taste the excellent Ron Cubay. Their Anejo rum is aged for 7 years before being bottled, allowing it to mellow out and…  More info

Ron Cubay Añejo
$29.29

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
$30.71

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
$47.04

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A handsomely packaged, beautiful little rum from El Dorado (one of our all-time favourites when it comes to Rum). This 5 year old Gold rum is fruity, rich and intensely buttery, and we have a feeling…  More info

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum
1
$28.36

Matugga Spiced Rum

70cl, 42%
Matugga

This is a Spiced Rum from the Matugga Rum range, which was introduced in mid-2015. The rum is made with molasses from sugar canes grown in the rich, red soil of East Africa, and distilled in the UK.…  More info

Matugga Spiced Rum
3
$48.24

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Second Edition

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

A special edition rum from St Lucia Distillers, named after the year that the Dennery Distillery was founded in St. Lucia. In 1972, the Dennery Distillery merged with another to form St. Lucia…  More info

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Second Edition
$68.23

Smatt's Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Smatt's

Perhaps the first 'super-premium' white rum from Jamaican producer Smatt. Think Grey Goose Vodka, Junipero Gin - that kind of super-premium. Jolly nice.  More info

Smatt's Silver Rum
1
$52.94

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
$36.85

Black Magic Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Sazerac

A spiced rum inspired by legends and adventured involving magic potions that can transform a person to become more gregarious, enchanting and charismatic! Dare you seek the skull?  More info

Black Magic Spiced Rum
$27.11

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Jefferson's

Jefferson's 1785 is a rich, enjoyable and good value for money dark rum, perfect for mixing and sipping over ice. Of course, it's named after one of the American Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.  More info

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum
$38.26

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