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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.

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
$27.96

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
$30.23

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
$19.70

Mount Gay Extra Old

70cl, 43%
Mount Gay

A full bodied rum from Barbados, very enjoyable. This was awarded its 5th Gran Gold award at the Monde Selection in Brussels, as well as a trophy at the 2001 International Spirits Challenge in…  More info

Mount Gay Extra Old
26
$36.90

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
$25.95

Morant Bay Spiced Red Rum

70cl, 42%
Morant Bay

Morant Bay is a spiced rum made in copper pot stills and is distilled in the UK (through The English Spirit Distillery). Containing Caribbean molasses, the resultant spirit is then infused using a…  More info

Morant Bay Spiced Red Rum
4
$30.98

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
$29.26

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old

70cl, 37.5%
Caldas

An 8 year old rum from the Colombian brand, Ron Viejo De Caldas. It spends 8 years maturing in used bourbon barrels before it's bottled. While it has been bottled at 37.5% ABV, it still shows off a…  More info

Ron Viejo De Caldas 8 Year Old
$27.55

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick's is an old rum brand dating from 1914 with this spiced release using rums from the Caribbean, mixed spices, citrus, and other exotic fruit.  More info

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum
$31.65

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron 1l

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A Travel Retail bottling of Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron, a made with rum aged up to three years and slow filtered through coconut shell charcoal. The label calls it a "sipping rum", and it is…  More info

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro De Ron 1l
$42.39

Ron Cartavio XO

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

Very old rum from Peruvian distillers Ron Cartavio. You may not have heard of Peruvian rum before, but this might be just the introduction you're looking for. The Ron Cartavio XO is matured in…  More info

Ron Cartavio XO
2
$70.69

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum

70cl, 38.5%
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
$32.99

El Ron Prohibido Rum

70cl, 40%
Cervecera Mexicana

El Ron Prohibido, is a Mexican rum which is made of a blend of rums of different ages, blended with used raisin wine barrels - an intriguing choice that pays off with distinctive bitter-sweet notes…  More info

El Ron Prohibido Rum
2
$27.87

Ron Caney Añejo - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Ron Caney

A bottle of Ron Caney Añejo, produced in the 1960s. This brand of Cuban rum is still around today, and has been making rum for over 150 years.  More info

Ron Caney Añejo - 1960s
$253.38

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
3
$42.01

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Zacapa

The stunning special release from Zacapa. This Guatemalan classic won Gold at the International Rum Festival, and won the Platinum award in the Super-Premium category in 2002. This is an incredible…  More info

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Solera Gran Reserva Especial
11
$87.72

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

This was first produced in Santiago de Cuba over 130 years ago. It is aged using the Solera process, so on average the rums contained herein are 15 years old.  More info

Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva
4
$28.63

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
5
$45.11

Alnwick Rum

70cl, 43%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick is a bold, spicy dark rum, perfect for making a big impression in cocktails and mixed drinks. Based on a recipe which was first created over 90 years ago in Northumberland, Alnwick rum is…  More info

Alnwick Rum
$27.92

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
$27.42

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

An añejo Cuban rum and a silver medal winner at the 1996 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. This 3 year old Havana Club is a key part of good, refreshing daiquiri.  More info

Havana Club Añejo 3 Year Old
4
$19.84

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
$29.51

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
$21.11

Six Saints Caribbean Rum

70cl, 41.7%
Six Saints Rum

Six Saints Caribbean Rum comes to us from Grenada after being aged in bourbon barrels and bottled at 41.7% ABV. Though Grenada is known as the 'Island of Spice', this isn't actually a spiced rum!…  More info

Six Saints Caribbean Rum
1
$42.09

Cacique Ron Añejo Superior

70cl, 37.5%
Cacique

A popular Venezuelan rum brand, Cacique means 'chief of the tribe'. The Añejo is a blend of seven aged molasses rums.  More info

Cacique Ron Añejo Superior
$23.79

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