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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.

Plantation Guatemala & Bélize Gran Añejo Rum

70cl, 42%
Plantation

A blended rum from the Plantation range, using rums from Guatemala & Bélize, two neighbouring countries in Central America. Following its initial maturation, it's taken to France to be finished in…  More info

Plantation Guatemala & Bélize Gran Añejo Rum
$29.53

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo's Finish Collection, which has been given a finishing period in Oloroso Sherry casks! This'll be very interesting to taste alongside the other expressions in the range,…  More info

Ron Abuelo XV - Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
$68.88

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A top quality 12 year old rum from the Nicaraguan producer, Flor de Caña. This is fine sipping rum, with flavours like toffee apple and buttery vanilla. We love it.  More info

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old
4
$41.94

Angostura 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A blend of aged rums, matured in bourbon barrels before undergoing filtration. This is a continuous-still rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company.  More info

Angostura 7 Year Old
1
$32.19

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)

75cl, 43%
St. George Spirits

This right here is the 2014 harvest of California Agricole Rum from St. George Spirits, made with sugar cane grown in Southern California. The St. George distillers take this sugar cane and extract…  More info

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)
2
$65.30

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Kraken

An excellent spiced rum, with utterly brilliant packaging! This was launched in the UK in early 2010, and it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
48
$23.80

Chamarel Premium White Rum

70cl, 42%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Single estate Mauritian white rum, made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses. Although unaged, it is regularly stirred in stainless steel vats for at least six months prior to bottling, a…  More info

Chamarel Premium White Rum
2
$27.96

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
$96.27

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A white rum which needs very little introduction, Bacardi's Carta Blanca is incredible popular indeed, seen on backbars around the world. The Bacardi brand originated in Cuba, and the first…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
$19.36

Clairin Casimir 2015

70cl, 53.4%
Douglas Casimir

This is the 2015 vintage Clairin Casimir rhum - curiously, the distiller adds lemongrass, cinnamon and ginger to the mix during fermentation. A very interesting spirit from Haiti.  More info

Clairin Casimir 2015
$46.69

Don Q Gran Añejo

70cl, 40%
Serralles

A blend of 6 to 12 year old Puerto Rican rum from the Don Q range. At the top end of their range, the Gran Añejo is very exciting stuff indeed. Enjoy neat or even over a few ice cubes on a warm…  More info

Don Q Gran Añejo
$55.55

Appleton Estate 21 Year Old

70cl, 43%
Appleton Estate

A well-aged 21 year old Jamaican rum from the Appleton Estate. Following maturation this was blended and married in casks for two years.  More info

Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
5
$144.93

R L Seale's 10 Year Old

70cl, 46%
R L Seales

An excellent rum from Barbados, aged for 10 years before bottling. A wonderfully designed bottle, containing a wonderful rum packed with juicy fruit, nutty spice and lingering floral elements. Now…  More info

R L Seale's 10 Year Old
1
$36.57

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A 12 year old rum from Barbados-based estate, St Nicholas Abbey! Top stuff from a producer with a long history of rum production and a great reputation. Dig in.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old
$121.24

Trinidad Rum 24 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

A 24 year old rum from Nicaragua, from an undisclosed distillery and drawn from a single cask. This has been bottled by the folks at Hunter Laing as part of their Kill Devil range. 350 bottles were…  More info

Trinidad Rum 24 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$119.58

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
$26.40

Bombo 40 Rum - Caramel & Coconut

70cl, 40%
Bombo

A spiced rum from the Bombo range, flavoured with coconut and caramel along fruity rum. Should be good over ice or with your favourite mixer, or alongside a sweet dessert.  More info

Bombo 40 Rum -  Caramel & Coconut
$25.88

Rhum J.M Vintage 2000 (bottled 2016)

70cl, 41.9%
Rhum J.M

This bottling of Martinican rhum agricole from Rhum J.M was made exclusively with spirits distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2016! A rather lengthy maturation for a rhum agricole, and we're very…  More info

Rhum J.M Vintage 2000 (bottled 2016)
$180.49

Dictador Insolent XO

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador Insolent XO Rum is produced in Columbia and aged in a selection of casks - ex-bourbon, ex-Sherry and Port casks were used to create this sweet, spicy, mocha-rich rum.  More info

Dictador Insolent XO
$81.11

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

Flor de Caña 18 year old is a very well-aged expression from Nicaragua. This was awarded Double Gold medals at the 2006 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  More info

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario
4
$55.32

Skipper Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Skipper

A delicious dark rum distilled in Guyana, Skipper was launched in 1930 and it still has the same label! A rich, thick spirit which works brilliantly well in cocktails, or with cola and a squeeze of…  More info

Skipper Demerara Rum
3
$19.53

Westerhall No.5 Rum

70cl, 43%
Westerhall

Replacing the Westerhall Plantation Rum (Westerhall's range underwent a redesign in mid-2016), Westerhall Rum No.5 is a great base for all manner of fruity rum cocktails.  More info

Westerhall No.5 Rum
1
$28.99

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
$37.49

Green Island Superior Light Rum

70cl, 40%
Green Island

A young, light rum from Green Island, a great producer of rum in Mauritius. This is distilled from molasses in a four column still, and the rum in the bottle is aged for between 3 and 5 years in oak.…  More info

Green Island Superior Light Rum
$25.97

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002

70cl, 63%
El Dorado

The El Dorado Rare Collection gives light to three of Guyana's most well-loved rum distilleries - Port Mourant, Enmore and Versailles. This one comes from the single wooden pot still of Versailles,…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002
$165.91

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