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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.

Clarkes Court Black Gold

75cl, 46%
Grenada Distillers

Clarkes Court Black Gold is made by infusing top-quality Grenadian rum with nutmeg, which is a very important and valued spice in Grenada - it even appears on their flag!  More info

Clarkes Court Black Gold
$68.17

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
$26.67

St Nicholas Abbey 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

18 year old rum from Barbados, produced as part of the St. Nicholas Abbey range - the Abbey itself has a long tradition of rum production, and they favour traditional methods of distillation when…  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 18 Year Old
$204.14

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
2
$204.99

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
$34.61

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
$23.93

Sunset Captain Bligh XO

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

An XO rum from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is distilled from molasses in a modern two column still, and it is diluted to 87.5% before it is aged in first fill Kentucky bourbon barrels for…  More info

Sunset Captain Bligh XO
1
$29.91

Diplomático Blanco Reserva

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

This is a white rum from Diplomático which is a blend of rums up to six years old that have been distilled in copper pot stills then filtered through charcoal. This is a truly premium product.  More info

Diplomático Blanco Reserva
$31.26

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Pampero

Deep, intense rum from Venezuelan producer Pampero. Superb sipping rum.  More info

Ron Pampero Añejo Especial
3
$21.74

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
1
$40.82

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum

70cl, 40%
The Duppy Share

In the whisky world, the angels take their share of whisky from the casks maturing it. In the Caribbean, it's the mischievous Duppy spirits that travel from island to island, taking their share of…  More info

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum
5
$30.86

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum

50cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

An interesting blend of rum made with sugar cane juice and rum made with molasses, which is then aged for 10 years in oak barrels. A Mexican spirit, the "Los Valientes" rum comes from the phrase…  More info

Los Valientes 10 Year Old Mexican Rum
$25.88

Pusser's "Yachting" Decanter

100cl, 42%
Pusser's

A Pusser's Navy Rum decanter celebrating the sport of yachting! This gorgeous decanter, containing 1 litre of Pusser's excellent rum, is decorated with a number of different yachts, which will be…  More info

Pusser's
$83.78

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve was originally just that, a rum reserved for the family! Luckily for us the Seale family, five generations of whom have produced rum at the Foursquare distillery, chose…  More info

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve 12 Year Old
1
$46.10

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate Reserve no longer carries an 8 year old age statement, but is still an excellent dark rum that offers great value.  More info

Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
3
$25.62

Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old 1990

70cl, 45%
Rum Nation

Beautifully aged rum from Italian bottler Rum Nation, finished in a Sherry cask.  More info

Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old 1990
$110.81

Sparrow's Premium Aged Rum

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distilleries

Produced in Georgetown, St Vincent, Sparrow's is a tasty dark rum made from West Indian sugar cane and aged in oak barrels. Great value for money...  More info

Sparrow's Premium Aged Rum
2
$25.50

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l

150cl, 35%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan's Spiced is a blend of Caribbean rums, flavoured with a mix of vanilla and cassia. Aged in Scotland in charred casks.  More info

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold 1.5l
3
$37.38

Atlantico Private Cask

70cl, 40%
Atlantico

Atlantico Private Cask is a rich, thick blend of small batch rums, aged up to 25 years old. Oak, dark berry and toffee notes a-plenty. Also, the Atlantico brand is endorsed by the singer Enrique…  More info

Atlantico Private Cask
4
$39.69

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
$27.65

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra 1l

100cl, 43%
Ron Zacapa

A 1 litre bottling of Ron Zacapa's Edición Negra, which was originally released for the Travel Retail market. This has been aged in double charred American oak barrels, resulting in smoky elements…  More info

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra 1l
$99.63

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Three - Dark Expression

70cl, 40%
Spirits of Old Man

The third release in the Rum Project range by German bottlers Spirits of Old Man is the Dark Expression, a blend of three Caribbean rums with a focus on rich notes of chocolate and coffee notes,…  More info

Spirits of Old Man Rum Project Three - Dark Expression
$47.20

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

An impressive, well aged Flor de Caña single estate rum. A stunning, radiant hue makes it a wonder to look at, and it tastes as good as it looks. Top shelf rum from the Nicaraguan producer.  More info

Flor de Caña 25 Year Old
1
$130.94

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum

70cl, 41.2%
Plantation

Plantation 3 Stars is a crisp, tasty white rum made by blending spirit produced in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. Some of the rums in the blend are aged, though their colour is removed via a process…  More info

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum
3
$23.19

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador 100 Months Claro Rum is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for... well... 100 months. Following this, the Claro is filtered to remove its colour but not the flavour, resulting in a…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum
$36.63

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