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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.

Plantation Trinidad 2001

70cl, 42%
Plantation

2001 vintage rum from Trinidad, which was blended, bottled and presented as part of the Plantation range by its owners, Cognac Ferrand. Heaps of fruit notes throughout this one - think ripe, exciting…  More info

Plantation Trinidad 2001
$46.09

Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum

75cl, 40%
Pumpkin Face

An aged edition of Pumpkin Face rum! Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum is made with a blend of rums from the Dominican Republic, some of which has been aged for quite a while indeed. Of course, it has once…  More info

Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum
$65.74

Desilver White Rum

70cl, 40%
DeSilver

White spiced rum? Now I've seen everything! That's right, the DeSilver White Rum is made with a selection of "secret spices" from St. Barth and carries a story about the pirate named DeSilver from…  More info

Desilver White Rum
$34.05

Diplomático Reserva

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A very good aged rum from Diplomático in Venezuela. This is mix of both potstill and column still rums. This was awarded a Gold Medal at the Rum Experience 2007 in London.  More info

Diplomático Reserva
$33.86

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old

50cl, 43%
Licores Veracruz

Named for the heroes of the Mexican revolution, with 'Los Valientes' meaning 'the valiant' or 'the brave', this is the oldest release in the series at 20 years old. The rum itself is unusually made…  More info

Ron Los Valientes 20 Year Old
$54.51

Wood's Old Navy Rum

70cl, 57%
Wood's

A Demerara rum distilled from sugar cane grown in Guyana, blended in the style of old navy rums. Woods is a pot still rum and the packaging has been the same for fifty years.  More info

Wood's Old Navy Rum
19
$28.89

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

The oldest rum in the Santa Teresa catalogue, Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer is made with very old Venezuelan rums. It is named in honour of Alberto J Vollmer, who founded the brand.  More info

Santa Teresa Bicentenario A.J. Vollmer
3
$153.22

Santa Teresa Linaje

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

An Extra Añejo Gran Reserva rum from Venezuelan producer Santa Teresa. Enjoy neat or is perfect over ice with mineral water or soda.  More info

Santa Teresa Linaje
$31.64

Samaroli Trinidad Rum 1999 (cask 11) - 2nd Release

70cl, 45%
Samaroli

A rather handsome bottling of single cask 1999 vintage rum from the Island of Trinidad, bottled by Italian indie bottler, Samaroli.  More info

Samaroli Trinidad Rum 1999 (cask 11) - 2nd Release
$140.90

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

A well-aged agricole rum (or rhum) from Guadeloupe, which is part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Interesting fact: World Cup and European Championship winning French footballer Lilian…  More info

Guadeloupe 16 Year Old Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$105.72

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

The distillers behind Ron Mulata only use Cuban sugar cane syrup to produce their fantastic rum. They also only use 180 litre white oak barrels to age it. This expression, for example, spent 7 long…  More info

Ron Mulata Añejo 7 Year Old
$29.80

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1986

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

A very special release from Guyana's rum experts El Dorado - the 1986 vintage 25 year old Demerara rum. A blend of rums chosen in 2011 by the late George Robinson, master blender, which were then…  More info

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1986
3
$462.96

Chamarel Premium Gold Rum

70cl, 42%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

Aged for 18 months in oak barrels, this Mauritian gold rum from the Rhumerie de Chamarel is made from pure cane juice, using sugar cane grown in the fields surrounding the distillery. The quality of…  More info

Chamarel Premium Gold Rum
7
$36.50

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A great Nicaraguan rum from Flor de Caña. This 7 year old is great as a mixing rum, and it makes a fantastic cocktail. It is aged in 180 litre white oak barrels, which are only used once before…  More info

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old
1
$30.40

Bristol Black Spiced Rum (Bristol Spirits)

70cl, 42%
Bristol Spirits

Made with a blend of aged rums, as well as touches of fruit and spice, Bristol Black Spiced Rum is not as sweet as your usual spiced rum. Of course, there's still plenty of Christmas cake and brown…  More info

Bristol Black Spiced Rum (Bristol Spirits)
$45.02

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged

70cl, 40%
Plantation

The Original Dark expression from Plantation has had a little bit of a revamp! It's now made with aged rum from Trinidad and Jamaica, which then blended together and aged further in Cognac casks,…  More info

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged
$31.85

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar

70cl, 40%
Brugal

A very special old rum from Brugal. This was twice distilled and aged in American oak before a finish in Spanish oak sherry casks. A delicious dark rum from the Dominican Republic.  More info

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar
4
$48.49

Doorly's 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

An 8 year old rum from Barbados joins the wonderful Doorly's range! As ever, it's got a tropical bird on the label and the bottle is filled with top-notch rum - dig in!  More info

Doorly's 8 Year Old
$37.18

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum

70cl, 38.50%
Cargo Cult

Named for Melanesian beliefs held on remote islands that John Frum, probably a corruption of "John from..." (American serviceman having visited during the second World War bringing with them goods…  More info

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum
$40.77

XM Royal 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Banks DIH

This is a delicious Guyana rum from Banks DIH, made by ageing spirit in bourbon casks for at least a decade. The rum is then finished in sherry casks for six months before bottling.  More info

XM Royal 10 Year Old
1
$60.73

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

A 7 year old Cuban rum, awarded gold medals at the Chicago World Spirits Championship in both 1995 and 1997. This was "añejo" the first Havana Club expression intended for sipping. Also makes a…  More info

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old
19
$29.01

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
$44.04

Ron Quorhum 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Oliver & Oliver

12 year old rum from the Dominican Republic, released under the Ron Quorhum brand by Oliver & Oliver. A sweet, subtly herbal expression, packed with notes of caramel, liquorice and oak-y resin.  More info

Ron Quorhum 12 Year Old
$45.34

Bellevue 17 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Bellevue

A Compagnie Des Indes bottling of 17 year old rum from the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe. It was distilled in March 1998 and bottled in June 2015, with 298 bottles. These Compagnie Des Indes…  More info

Bellevue 17 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$79.47

Rebellion Premium Black Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Rebellion

A delicious blend of rums from the Caribbean, Rebellion Premium Black is bottled in The Netherlands. This is a lovely dark rum with a superb cocoa-rich palate.  More info

Rebellion Premium Black Rum
$24.20

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