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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, 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.

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

75cl, 49.50%
Smooth Ambler

A marvellously impressive rum released by the chaps at Smooth Ambler out in West Virginia, USA. They've got a good nose for great spirits (as obvious from their Old Scout whiskey), and have bottled…  More info

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum
3
$76.43

Presidente Marti 15

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

A rather classy rum from the Dominican Republic, created in the style of Cuban rum. It was matured in a Solera, resulting in a well-oaked though pleasantly sweet tipple. It's made by Dominican…  More info

Presidente Marti 15
2
$40.88

Bacardi Reserva Limitada

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A rather rare sight on these shores, Bacardi Reserva Limitada rum was originally only available from the distillery's gift shop! It's made with a blend of well-aged Puerto Rican rums, resulting in a…  More info

Bacardi Reserva Limitada
$217.43

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve

70cl, 40%
Zafra

This is the Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve rum, an absolutely ace Panamanian rum which was aged in bourbon barrels for just over two decades. Considering is was blended by a former Maestro Ronero…  More info

Zafra 21 Year Old Master Reserve
1
$74.09

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
$32.60

Ron de Jeremy

70cl, 40%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

For those of you aren’t familiar with his work, Ron Jeremy is a long-standing leading man in some of the more #ahem# ‘artistic’ films in the gentleman’s section of your local video store. Ron…  More info

Ron de Jeremy
44
$34.82

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
2
$28.83

Mocambo 10 Year Old Mexican Rum Bucaneer Pistol

20cl, 40%
Licores Veracruz

A glass buccaner's pistol full of Mocambo Mexican rum! Produced in Cordoba, this is the perfect gift for the pirate in your life.  More info

Mocambo 10 Year Old Mexican Rum Bucaneer Pistol
$25.66

Monymusk Special Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Monymusk

The entry level expression of rum from the Jamaican Monymusk Estate, made for enjoying in cocktails. Quite light and sweet, this one.  More info

Monymusk Special Gold Rum
$24.69

Rebellion Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Rebellion

A beautiful Trinidadian rum from a distillery founded in 1824. The producers recommend Rebellion Spiced be served long with cola and ice (and a squeeze of fresh lime juice).  More info

Rebellion Spiced Rum
$21.70

Bushtea Spiced Rum

70cl, 42%
British Island Rum Co.

An English spiced rum which takes inspiration from the bush teas of the Caribbean. This vibrant, refreshing rum features infusions of spicy root ginger, citrus and a waft of hibiscus. Enjoy over ice…  More info

Bushtea Spiced Rum
2
$42.59

New Grove Old Tradition 8 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

8 year old Mauritian rum from the New Grove brand. Suited to slow sipping in the evening, with an ice cube or two if you're lucky enough to be enjoying this in Mauritius.  More info

New Grove Old Tradition 8 Year Old Rum
$46.23

Plantation Original Dark Overproof

70cl, 73%
Plantation

A staggering overproof rum sourced from Trinidad and created by the Cognac Ferrand estate. This stuff is bottled at 73% abv and is aged in young bourbon casks before bottling.  More info

Plantation Original Dark Overproof
1
$38.82

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
$67.70

Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Casks

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Sit down, gentle reader, and we shall tell you a tale. On the 2nd May 2007 a great fire ravaged St Lucia Distillers distillery, destroying much of the storage buildings. "Good heavens!" You might…  More info

Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Casks
2
$35.87

Samaroli Barbados Rum 1998 (bottled 2015) (cask 11)

70cl, 45%
Samaroli

Single cask Bajan molasses rum distilled in 1998 and bottled by Samaroli in 2015. The outturn was 250 bottles.  More info

Samaroli Barbados Rum 1998 (bottled 2015) (cask 11)
$137.70

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
12
$29.93

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
$24.57

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

The Carta Blanca rum from Santiago de Cuba is a molasses-based rum which is initially aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling, removing the colour but not the flavour (making it a good choice…  More info

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca
$26.96

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 5 year old Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo. It is made at Varela-Hermanos, which is a third generation family distillery that grows its own sugar cane and ages its rum in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial
$25.79

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum

70cl, 75.50%
Old J

A high-strength edition of Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum, which features plenty of vanilla and a touch of lime peel flavours at its core. The Tiki Fire bottling is presented at an intense 75.5%…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum
1
$39.28

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum

70cl, 40%
Kikusui Shuzo

When you think of rum, what's the first country that comes to mind? That's right, Japan! Well that's exactly where this Ryoma 7 year old rum is from. The sugarcane used to make the Ryoma is grown by…  More info

Ryoma 7 Year Old Japanese Rum
4
$60.04

New Grove Solera 25 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

Solera-aged rum from Mauritius, distilled for the New Grove brand of tasty rums. This limited edition bottling is made using rums aged for at least 25 years, expertly blended to produce a rich,…  More info

New Grove Solera 25 Year Old Rum
1
$174.46

Ron de Jeremy XO

70cl, 40%
Ron de Jeremy

The Ron de Jeremy range of rums continues to grow. Ron de Jeremy XO is made using a blend of well-aged pot and column distilled rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, matured in American bourbon…  More info

Ron de Jeremy XO
$43.57

Uitvlught 18 Year Old 1997 (cask 13) Duncan Taylor

70cl, 53.50%
Uitvlugt

Guyanese rum bottled by Duncan Taylor, best known for their independent whisky releases. An excellent opportunity to experience single cask pot still rum! The outturn of this cask was 304 bottles at…  More info

Uitvlught 18 Year Old 1997 (cask 13) Duncan Taylor
$90.31

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