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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, 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.

Panamá-Pacific Reserva 9

70cl, 47.3%
Panamá-Pacific

From the San Carlos Distillery in Panama, a nine year old rum distilled from Cuban style sugar cane molasses. This spends three years in ex-bourbon casks, before moving over for a generous six year…  More info

Panamá-Pacific Reserva 9
$51.88

Port Morant 2008 (bottled 2019) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Port Morant

A marvellous Guyanese Demerera rum from Port Morant. Distilled in 2008, this expression was matured until 2019, when it was bottled up by Bristol Spirits, to join its impressive range of…  More info

Port Morant 2008 (bottled 2019) - Bristol Spirits
$98.63

Compagnie des Indes Boulet de Canon No.8

70cl, 46%
Compagnie Des Indes

The eighth edition of Boulet de Canon from French independent bottler Compagnie des Indes. You might not even need a translation tool to work out what the name means, well you definitely don't…  More info

Compagnie des Indes Boulet de Canon No.8
$56.03

Diamond 23 Year Old 1998 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 48.5%
Diamond Distillery

Produced in the column still of Guyana's Diamond Distillery back in 1998, this splendid single cask rum spent the next 23 years maturing in a single cask. Finally, the folks at indie bottler Hunter…  More info

Diamond 23 Year Old 1998 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$175.54

4x50 R.N.P. Rum

70cl, 40.5%
4X50

Created by the same team behind the Reisetbauer spirit range, 4x50 R.N.P. Rum goes through a particularly complex production to achieve an outstanding flavour profile. The majority of the spirit is…  More info

4x50 R.N.P. Rum
$150.61

Panama 2006 (bottled 2021) (cask 48) - Berry Bros. & Rudd

70cl, 55.6%
Berry Bros. & Rudd

Panamanian rum here from the Berry Bros. & Rudd independent bottling range! This expression was distilled in 2006, and given a good ol' rest in a single barrel, before being bottled up in 2021 with…  More info

Panama 2006 (bottled 2021) (cask 48) - Berry Bros. & Rudd
$96.86

Labourdonnais Classic Spiced Gold

70cl, 40%
Labourdonnais

A wonderful spiced rum from Labourdonnais in Mauritius, boasting a whole host of warming, toasty elements alongside bold notes of vibrant, vegetal rum. More than suitable for sipping neat, though…  More info

Labourdonnais Classic Spiced Gold
$31.11

St Aubin 10 Year Old – Harvest 2003

70cl, 43%
St Aubin

A terrific ten year old rum all the way from Mauritius, produced by the St Aubin Distillery. This expression was made from the 2003 sugar cane harvest, and distilled in a copper pot still before…  More info

St Aubin 10 Year Old – Harvest 2003
$152.65

Reserve Rum of Belize 2005 - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 46%
Bristol Spirits

Brilliant rum from Belize, distilled in 2005 and shipped over to the folks at Bristol Spirits. It remained in the cask until 2016, when it was bottled up for all to enjoy! Ideal if you're a fan of…  More info

Reserve Rum of Belize 2005  - Bristol Spirits
$91.36

Dominican Republic - Rum Explorer

70cl, 41%
Rum Explorer

An independent bottling of rum all the way from the Dominican Republic, released as part of the Rum Explorer range. This particular expression was given a finishing period in casks that previously…  More info

Dominican Republic - Rum Explorer
$46.69

Ripping Yarns Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Ripping Yarns

Rum might not be the first spirit you think of when someone mentions tasty drinks coming from Surrey, but the Ripping Yarns team is trying to change that with it's excellent Silver Rum! Made from…  More info

Ripping Yarns Silver Rum
$39.43

Compagnie des Indes Mauritius 9 Year Old

70cl, 42%
Compagnie Des Indes

Distilled in Mauritius, this marvellous nine year old rum found its way to the fine folks at French indie bottler, Compagnie des Indes, who bottled it up for us all to enjoy! Boasting a wealth of…  More info

Compagnie des Indes Mauritius 9 Year Old
$67.47

NAUD Hidden Loot Dark Reserve

70cl, 41%
NAUD

The team at NAUD has dialed things up a notch for this expression of its Hidden Loot spiced rum. Combining ten fruits and spices with column distilled Panamanian rum, the carefully curated selection…  More info

NAUD Hidden Loot Dark Reserve
$40.46

Compagnie des Indes Fiji 10 Year Old

70cl, 44%
Compagnie Des Indes

A characterful rum from Fiji, independently bottled by Compagnie des Indes. Column distilled, this molasses-based rum spent a decade maturing in a single cask before bottling. Brimming with ripe…  More info

Compagnie des Indes Fiji 10 Year Old
$76.82

Compagnie des Indes Boulet de Canon No.11

70cl, 46%
Compagnie Des Indes

French independent bottler Compagnie des Indes explores various ways to impart smoky character to delicious rum in its Boulet de Canon series. This, the eleventh release, sees a blend of rums from…  More info

Compagnie des Indes Boulet de Canon No.11
$57.08

Providence Dunder & Syrup

70cl, 56%
Providence

The second release from the Providence range, produced at the Port-au-Prince Distillery in Haiti. This rum has been named Dunder & Syrup, having been made from sugar cane syrup as well as dunder from…  More info

Providence Dunder & Syrup
$50.84

Ron Cabezon The Accord

70cl, 40%
Ron Cabezon

The Accord from Ron Cabezon takes the team's delicious botanical rum and sees it enjoy a stay in Speyside whisky casks, helping to develop its flavour profile and impart helpings of vanilla and…  More info

Ron Cabezon The Accord
$43.58

The Custom Spirit Co. Special Breakfast Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
The Custom Spirit Co.

This splendid spiced rum from The Custom Spirit Co. combines a delightful array of ingredients, inspired by breakfast time! Coffee, cacao nib, banana, and tonka bean create a delightfully rich and…  More info

The Custom Spirit Co. Special Breakfast Spiced Rum
$36.36

Habitation Saint-Étienne Rhum VSOP Port Cask Finish

70cl, 45%
Habitation Saint-Etienne

Magnificent Martiniquan rhum agricole from Habitation Saint-Étienne! This aged VSOP expression has been treated to a finishing period in Port casks, imparting a marvellous red berry twist to the…  More info

Habitation Saint-Étienne Rhum VSOP Port Cask Finish
$80.97

The Last Drop 1976 Very Old Jamaica Rum

75cl, 68.5%
The Last Drop

The Last Drop has gone and bottled up a tremendous rum all the way from Jamaica! This expression was distilled back in 1976, and was aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 43 years, with part of that…  More info

The Last Drop 1976 Very Old Jamaica Rum
$3,116.23

Copperfish Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Copperfish Distillery

A grand Gold Rum from the Copperfish Distillery in Looe, Cornwall. Enjoyably flavoursome, with fruity notes blending well with warming, spicy hints of oak. We might have been temped to call it…  More info

Copperfish Gold Rum
$41.55

Flat Cap Rum - Dash of Honey

70cl, 40%
Flat Cap Drinks Company

Combining a base of white rum from the West Indies and a gentle infusion of honey comes this tasty treat from Flat Cap! A silky, softly sweet sipper, this is fab served neat over ice, and ought to…  More info

Flat Cap Rum - Dash of Honey
$33.24

Flat Cap Rum - Mixed Spice

70cl, 40%
Flat Cap Drinks Company

A tasty spiced rum from the folks at Flat Cap! For this expression, base of West Indian rum is delicately infused with the likes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, orange, vanilla, and ginger. This…  More info

Flat Cap Rum - Mixed Spice
$33.24

Wardington's Ludlow Spiced Botanical Rum No.2

70cl, 42%
Wardington's

From Wardington's Ludlow Rum range comes a Spiced Botanical Rum, made with a blend of old and young Caribbean rums, alongside a host of ingredients to bolster its flavour profile. Specifically, the…  More info

Wardington's Ludlow Spiced Botanical Rum No.2
$43.58

St Aubin VSOP Rum

70cl, 42%
St Aubin

From the St Aubin Distillery in Mauritius comes this magnificently flavourful rum! Combining a blend of pot-distilled pure sugar cane rums, which have been matured for at least four years in a…  More info

St Aubin VSOP Rum
$51.89

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