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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.

Matusalem 23 Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

This is Matusalem's premium expression of Solera aged rum, the 23 Gran Reserva. The company was once based in Cuba, but have since moved to the Dominican Republic. They Solera age the majority of…  More info

Matusalem 23 Gran Reserva
1
$76.73

Port Morant 1999 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 46%
Port Morant

1999 vintage Port Morant Demerara rum, distilled in Guyana and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2014 at 46% ABV. They've got a great range of independently bottled rums, and this one is definitely no…  More info

Port Morant 1999 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits
$77.30

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
$31.68

Old Salt Rum

50cl, 42%
English Vodka Company

The Old Salt Rum is one of very few rums to be produced in the United Kingdom and is made from a careful selection of molasses and raw sugar cane in Cambridge.  More info

Old Salt Rum
5
$38.76

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
$22.73

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum

70cl, 40%
J Wray and Nephew

Blackwell Black Gold Rum was created by Chris Blackwell, who also happens to be the owner of Island Records. The dark rum itself is distilled and blended by J. Wray & Nephew in Jamaica. It was made…  More info

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum
1
$23.87

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 12 year old dark rum from Ron Abuelo of Panama. They age their rum in whiskey barrels, which adds a distinct vanilla sweetnses. This 12 year old was launched in 2009, and is elegant, slightly smoky…  More info

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old
4
$39.20

Ron Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Riserva

70cl, 40%
Ron Millonario

This spirit from Ron Millonario is a beautifully packaged solera-aged rum from Peru. Distilled in column stills, it comes packaged in a woven-covered bottle and it was awarded a Gold Medal at the…  More info

Ron Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Riserva
6
$51.78

Westerhall Vintage Rum

75cl, 40%
Westerhall

This is a tasty copper pot-still dark rum from Grenada's Westerhall Estate. The rum is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years before bottling. Each bottle is hand-numbered with the batch…  More info

Westerhall Vintage Rum
3
$42.69

Plantation Jamaica 1998 - Single Barrel - Tokaji Cask Finish

70cl, 41%
Plantation

A single barrel rum from the Plantation range, using spirits from Jamaica which were distilled in 1998. To give this expression an added depth of flavour, it was finished in a cask that previously…  More info

Plantation Jamaica 1998 - Single Barrel - Tokaji Cask Finish
1
$97.42

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
$96.87

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
$24.18

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23

70cl, 40%
Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala

A firm favourite here at the Master of Malt, this is a truly superb Guatemalan rum, blended using the solera system. Sublime stuff. This was matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. The Beverage…  More info

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23
25
$63.41

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
$33.27

Pink Pigeon Original

70cl, 40%
Pink Pigeon

A fabulous rum from Mauritius, flavoured with vanilla and spices including nutmeg. It was named for the Pink Pigeon, a bird that is native to the island and recently climbed from critically…  More info

Pink Pigeon Original
6
$30.16

Rockley Still 1986 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 46%
Rockley Still

1986 vintage rum from the Rockley Still in Barbados, which has been bottled in 2012 by UK independent bottler, Bristol Spirits. Interestingly, this one has been treated to an Oloroso Sherry cask…  More info

Rockley Still 1986 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$155.62

Gosling's Family Reserve

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

The flagship from the Gosling's rage. Family Reserve is made using top quality rums from Bermuda. Each bottle is hand labelled, dipped in wax, packed into boxes, stamped, put in the post box, you'll…  More info

Gosling's Family Reserve
4
$54.28

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

Panamanian rum from Rum Nation. Not Zombie Nation. That's something different.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old
$112.45

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

Spiced rum from Saint Lucia. Impressively, it was the only spiced or flavoured rum to receive a Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2013.  More info

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum
4
$25.33

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
43
$38.62

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection

70cl, 40%
Angostura

The second release of Angostura's Cask Collection No.1 is a 16 year old rum from Trinidad which was allowed to age for 10 years in American oak casks before being transferred over to once-used French…  More info

Angostura No.1 16 Year Old Once Used French Oak Casks - Cask Collection
$111.35

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve

70cl, 40%
Plantation

This is a 5 year old Barbados rum from the Plantation range, aged in bourbon barrels before being transported to Cognac Ferrand in France for a finish in Cognac casks! Very good indeed...  More info

Plantation 5 Year Old Barbados Grande Reserve
2
$31.67

RedLeg Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
RedLeg

RedLeg is a superb spiced rum made with Caribbean spirit which was aged in old oak whilst being infused with Jamaican vanilla and ginger. Just superb and very good on a crisp Winter's evening!  More info

RedLeg Spiced Rum
13
$24.34

El Dorado 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A great 12 year old Demerara rum from El Dorado. This has won golds at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test in London 7 times in the first 10 years! There are nine stills at the distillery, and this is based…  More info

El Dorado 12 Year Old
14
$41.38

Angostura 12 Year Old "1824"

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A top quality rum hand selected by the master blender from select casks at Angostura. This is matured in American oak bourbon barrels for at least 12 years when it is blended and re-casked. It offers…  More info

Angostura 12 Year Old
6
$66.03

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