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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.

Ron Aguere White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
San Bartolomé de Tejina

Blanco sugar cane rhum from the Canary Islands "a rum for people who live life passionately", we're told.  More info

Ron Aguere White Rum
$21.11

Bielle Canne Grise

50cl, 59%
Distillerie Bielle

Agricole rhum made with rustic grise cane from Caribbean island of Marie-Galante.  More info

Bielle Canne Grise
$32.92

J. Bally Rhum Paille

70cl, 40%
J. Bally

"Paille" refers to the straw colour of this young gold rhum agricole from Martinique. An interesting choice for many mixed drinks.  More info

J. Bally Rhum Paille
$27.86

Facundo Exquisito

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A blend of rums aged 7 to 23 years old from Bacardi's premium Fagundo label, named after the founder of the company. It has been finished for at least a month in Sherry casks.  More info

Facundo Exquisito
$121.15

Bielle 2001 High Proof

70cl, 45%
Distillerie Bielle

A blend of 14 year old sugar cane juice rhums from Guadeloupe matured in 8 ex-bourbon barrels.  More info

Bielle 2001 High Proof
$213.29

Nicaragua 12 Year Old 2002 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

A tasty twelve year old Nicaraguan rum distilled in 2000 and bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd in the UK.  More info

Nicaragua 12 Year Old 2002 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$66.11

Ron Aguere Oro

70cl, 37.5%
San Bartolomé de Tejina

Distilled from pure sugar cane juices as opposed to molasses, Ron Aguere Oro is produced and aged on the Canary Islands with delicious cocktails in mind.  More info

Ron Aguere Oro
$21.98

Brugal Ron Blanco 151 - 1980s

70cl, 75.5%
Brugal

This is a 1980s bottling of high proof rum from Brugal, a very well known Dominican rum brand. This was bottled at 151 proof, otherwise known as 75.5% ABV!  More info

Brugal Ron Blanco 151 - 1980s
1
$126.48

Ron Don-B Superior - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Morey

While Ron Don-B might sound like a good nickname for someone called Ronald, it's actually the name of this Spanish white rum produced in the 1970s.  More info

Ron Don-B Superior  - 1970s
$189.72

Ron Artemi Etiqueta Plata - 1960s

99cl, 40%
Artemi

White rum produced in the 1960s by Spanish distillers Artemi. A rare anyique from over 40 years ago.  More info

Ron Artemi Etiqueta Plata - 1960s
$227.66

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (44%) - 1970s

70cl, 44%
Bardinet Distillery

This collectible piece is a hard-to-find bottle of Bardinet's Rhum Negrita, which we believe was produced back in the 1970s.  More info

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (44%) - 1970s
$151.77

Courville Martinique Rhum - 1970s

75cl, 45%
Stock

A very rare bottle of Courville Martinique Rhum, produced for the Italian company Stock back in the 1970s. An, elegant, classy piece of rum history, right here.  More info

Courville Martinique Rhum - 1970s
$151.77

Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum - 1960s

75cl, 40%
Seagram's

A rare 1960s bottling of Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum, made with rum from Guyana. Sadly the label has been torn at some point over the years...  More info

Seagram's 'White Label Tropicana' Rum - 1960s
$189.72

Lamb's Navy Rum - 1980s

75cl, 40%
Lamb's

The 1980s gave us a lot - 2 Star Wars films, cassette tapes, and this bottle of Lamb's Navy Rum! Rather collectible indeed.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum - 1980s
$126.48

Doorly's 3 Year Old - 1990s

70cl, 37.5%
Doorly's

A half bottle of Doorly's 3 Year Old Rum from the 1990s - quite collectible, particularly for those that love the brand, which is still going today. And yes, it still has a tropical bird on the label…  More info

Doorly's 3 Year Old - 1990s
$50.59

Karukera Gold

70cl, 40%
Karukera

An aged rhum agricole from Guadeloupe producer, Karukera. They suggest that this one works very well in cocktails, so this would be rather handy drink to have on your backbar.  More info

Karukera Gold
$31.24

Santa Teresa Claro 1l

100cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A bigger bottle of Santa Teresa's top quality Claro white rum. This Venezuelan rum ages for around three years in American white oak casks before being filtered to remove the colour, but not the…  More info

Santa Teresa Claro 1l
$33.67

Ronrico White Label - 1960s

76cl, 40%
Ronrico

White Label white rum from the Ronrico brand, produced in Puerto Rico in the 1960s. The label has suffered a fair bit of damage, but this remains very collectible indeed.  More info

Ronrico White Label - 1960s
$189.72

Myers’s Planters’ Punch Rum - 1980s

100cl, 40%
Myers's Rum

Myers's Planters' Punch, a classic blend of dark rums from Jamaica and downright delicious over ice. If you're a fan of the brand, you might be interested in this collectible bottle of the dark rum…  More info

Myers’s Planters’ Punch Rum - 1980s
$151.77

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (70° Proof) - 1970s

70cl, 40%
Bardinet Distillery

An 1970s bottle of Bardinet Rhum Negrita, a blend of West and East Indies rums bottled by the French distillers. Rare, collectible and in good condition.  More info

Bardinet Rhum Negrita (70° Proof) - 1970s
$151.77

Filippo Franelli White Australian Rum - 1949-59

100cl, 70%
Filippo Zanelli

An old, rare bottle of Australian Rum, produced by Filippo Zanelli all the way back between 1949 and 1959. However, it was produced in Italy, Bologna to be exact, which is quite far away from…  More info

Filippo Franelli White Australian Rum - 1949-59
$252.96

Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Lopez Hermanos

This is a bottle of Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani, a white rum which was produced in the 1970s in Malaga, Spain. I've been to Malaga. It's very nice. Didn't see any of this rum, though. Maybe if I went…  More info

Lopez Hermanos Ron Guarani - 1970s
$189.72

Ron Don Antañón - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Don Antanon

Yarr, it be a bottle o' Ron Don Antañón from the 1970s, it be! 100cl of old Spanish rum featuring what looks to be Horatio McCallister, the Sea Captain from The Simpsons, on the label.  More info

Ron Don Antañón - 1970s
$189.72

Ron Montero Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

The Ron Montero distillery sits on the south coast of Granada, where it has been making Spanish rum since 1963. This is their Gran Reserva expression, which sits on the "Spicier" side of aged rums…  More info

Ron Montero Gran Reserva
$34.73

Ron Guajiro - 1970s

75cl, 0%
Cocal

A tall bottle of Ron Guajiro white rum from the 1970s, made by Cocal in the Canary Islands. We can't find an abv listen on the label, which is a bit scratched, but you try not having any scrapes…  More info

Ron Guajiro - 1970s
$151.77

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