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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.

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)
$141.23

Nicaraguan Rum 11 Year Old 2004 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

An 11 year old Nicaraguan rum from an undisclosed distillery, drawn from a single cask which was filled in 2004. It was bottled with an outturn of 337 bottles by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil…  More info

Nicaraguan Rum 11 Year Old 2004 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$64.49

Worthy Park 10 Year Old 2005 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Worthy Park

'Kill Devil' was a term used on the Caribbean islands to describe distilled spirits in the 17th and 18th century. Whether that's because it appeared to be dark magic or whether it was supposed to…  More info

Worthy Park 10 Year Old 2005 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$66.14

Saint Aubin History Collection Mauritius Cuvée Grande Réserve

70cl, 40%
Saint Aubin

A blend of St Aubin pot still rhum agricole aged 3 to 7 years in American and French oak.  More info

Saint Aubin History Collection Mauritius Cuvée Grande Réserve
$52.83

New Grove 2007 Single Cask Rum (cask 174)

70cl, 49.90%
Grays

Half of this rum matured in new French oak and half was matured in ex-Cognac French oak beofre they were brought together at a natural strength of 65%. Over the following 3 years it was then slowly…  More info

New Grove 2007 Single Cask Rum (cask 174)
$85.26

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
$141.65

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
$33.31

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
$27.02

J. Bally 3 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

A 3 year old rhum agricole matured in Limousin oak casks. The iconic pyramid bottle was first used by Jacques Bally around 1930, although the rum is distilled at Saint James today.  More info

J. Bally 3 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$43.84

J. Bally 12 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

12 year old rhum agricole from Martinique in the Bally brand's famous pyramid-shaped bottle!  More info

J. Bally 12 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$66.80

Facundo Paraiso XA

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A blend of rums up to 23 years old, with a higher proportion of older rums than any others in the Facundo range. Finished in XO Cognac casks it comes in a decanter bottle engraved with the Bacardi…  More info

Facundo Paraiso XA
$312.39

Facundo NEO

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A comforting premium rum from Bacardi's Facundo range, named after the company's founder. Rums aged up to 8 years are blended and then charcoal filtered to remove the colour for aged notes in a…  More info

Facundo NEO
$64.23

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
$146.95

Facundo Eximo 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A 10 year old blend of rums that was blended before it went into the barrel (with a couple of the rums used already being 1-2 years old at the time). This is an incredibly difficult art, and the…  More info

Facundo Eximo 10 Year Old
$85.09

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
$247.91

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

Single cask rum from Cuba, distilled in 2003 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2012. Yum!  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$52.32

Trois Rivieres VSOP

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

The Trois Rivieres VSOP expression is allowed to mature for at least 5 years, resulting in a well flavoured, rich rhum agricole. This comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.  More info

Trois Rivieres VSOP
$59.46

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)
$70.36

Fiji 11 Year Old 2003 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

An 11 year old rum distilled in Fiji that was bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd of St James's at 46% abv.  More info

Fiji 11 Year Old 2003 Rum (Berry Bros & Rudd)
$71.47

Opthimus 18 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

Dominican rum matured in an 18 year old Solera system form Oliver & Oliver's Opthimus range.  More info

Opthimus 18 Rum
1
$65.05

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

A 7 year old rhum agricole from the J. Bally range produced on the island of Martinique. This comes in a pyramid-shaped bottle - pyramids are rather sturdy three-dimensional shapes, and are indeed…  More info

J. Bally 7 Year Old Rhum Vieux
$52.29

Hee Joy Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Hee Joy

Hee Joy Spiced Rum is made with a combination of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Guyana, blended together in Cognac, France, and allowed to finish in oak casks. Enjoy over ice or in tropical…  More info

Hee Joy Spiced Rum
$32.40

Revolver Rum

70cl, 40%
Rathlee

Revolver Rum is the first release from the Rathlee Distilling Company! It's inspired by the blending of two very different cultures - the Colombian city of Bogotá (the largest city on Colombia, we'll…  More info

Revolver Rum
$46.97

Rum Nation 10 Year Old 2001 (bottled 2011)

70cl, 40%
Rum Nation

From the Rum Nations selection comes a 10 year old rum which was distilled in Barbados. The Italian company suggests pairing this with a dark, delicate Ecuadorian chocolate...  More info

Rum Nation 10 Year Old 2001 (bottled 2011)
$50.54

Ron Aguere Oro

70cl, 37.50%
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
$25.55

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