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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.

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
$131.69

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
$23.32

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
$36.84

Brugal Añejo

70cl, 38%
Brugal

Brugal Anejo is a 5 year old Dominican rum. The company was founded by Andrés Brugal Montaner. The majority of the board members are actually descendants of Montaner.  More info

Brugal Añejo
9
$20.12

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
$25.56

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof

70cl, 63%
J Wray and Nephew

The best-selling high proof rum in the world. 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are of Wray and Nephew. Overproof is a very potent spirit indeed!  More info

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof
27
$26.36

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
$123.19

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004

70cl, 43.3%
Penny Blue

This is the fourth batch of Penny Blue Rum, produced at Medine, the oldest operational distillery in Mauritius. An excellent expression, made with rums aged between 4 and 11 years old. The Penny Blue…  More info

Penny Blue XO - Batch #004
1
$42.22

Plantation Barbados 2001

70cl, 42%
Plantation

The 2001 vintage Barbados rum is first aged in bourbon and Sherry casks for nine years, before being finished in Cognac casks for a further three years. Oodles of spice and fruit, with some rather…  More info

Plantation Barbados 2001
$51.10

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
3
$56.21

Green Island Spiced Gold Rum

70cl, 37.5%
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
$27.56

FAIR. 5 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
FAIR.

5 year old rum made exclusively using Fair Trade certified sugar cane from Belize and matured in Kentucky bourbon barrels before being shipped out to France to be bottled. Made by FAIR., whom created…  More info

FAIR. 5 Year Old Rum
3
$33.15

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

An indulgent 15 year old rum from Ron Mulata, produced in Cuba, exclusively making use of their top quality Cuban cane syrup. It has been aged in 180 litre oak casks, which the distillers say give it…  More info

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo
2
$57.37

Captain Morgan Original Rum

70cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan is a dark rum seen on back-bars seen on back-bars around the world. This is made using a blend of Jamaican, Guyanan and Bajan rums. Great in loads of cocktails and mixed drinks -…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Rum
5
$18.76

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
5
$59.79

Appleton Estate Signature Blend

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Formerly known as V/X and no longer carrying an age statement, Appleton's signature blend has been aptly renamed Signature Blend. A blend of rums matured in smaller barrels before being married in…  More info

Appleton Estate Signature Blend
$21.02

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
$37.45

Elements 8 Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This tasty spiced rum was launched during the Summer for 2010. Elements 8 combines top quality dark rum with lovely Caribbean spices, as well as fruit and honey. This stuff is aged in bourbon…  More info

Elements 8 Spiced Rum
1
$31.99

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
$27.88

Brugal XV

70cl, 38%
Brugal

A well aged, well blended rum from top Dominican producers, Brugal. To create the XV, they use a selection of ex-bourbon casks and casks which have previously held Pedro Ximénez Sherry, aged between…  More info

Brugal XV
2
$27.91

Doorly's XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

A six year old blend of rums from Barbados, Doorly's XO is finished in an Oloroso sherry cask, which adds a lovely character.  More info

Doorly's XO Rum
13
$30.18

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
$20.77

Ron Barceló Imperial

70cl, 38%
Ron Barceló

An excellent Dominican rum, Barceló Imperial was awarded a Gold Medal and also the coveted "Best In Category" title at the 2008 International Cane Spirits Festival. This is aged for between 4 and 10…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial
8
$32.49

Ron Abuelo Centuria

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A rare rum blend made in Panama, Ron Abuelo Centuria is aged in Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels in the solera method. Some of the rums are as old as 30 years, and the flavour is astonishingly rich and…  More info

Ron Abuelo Centuria
5
$129.39

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
$25.90

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