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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.

Clément Très Vieux 6 Year Old Rhum Agricole

70cl, 44%
Clément

A 6 year old expression of rhum agricole from Clément in Martinique. After the sugar cane is pressed and distilled, it is matured in new and re-charred barrels which impart a subtle peppery notes and…  More info

Clément Très Vieux 6 Year Old Rhum Agricole
$103.12

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s

The Ru

A Jamaican white rum with a highly questionable character on the neck of the bottle. The rum itself should be less questionable though. Please note that the label does not state the volume or ABV…  More info

Coruba Blanca White Rum - 1970s
$173.90

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
$173.90

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 (cask 6) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 52.30%
Darsa Distillery

A single cask rum from the Darsa distillery in Guatemala, bottled by Duncan Taylor. It was distilled in July 2007 and bottled in February 2016 with an outturn of 298 bottles.  More info

Darsa 8 Year Old 2007 (cask 6) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$57.71

Diamond Distillery 12 Year Old 2002 (cask 131) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 53.40%
Diamond Distillery

We love single cask rum bottlings from Duncan Taylor - always exciting to find out more about the rum distilleries around the world. This particular one was distilled in January 2002 by the Diamond…  More info

Diamond Distillery 12 Year Old 2002 (cask 131) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$60.05

Don Q Gold - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Serralles

This is a bottle of Don Q Gold, produced in the 1970s. The Don Q brand is owned by the Serrallés, whom have been producing rum in Puerto Rico since 1865.  More info

Don Q Gold - 1970s
$173.90

Dos Maderas Luxus

70cl, 40%
Williams & Humbert

Similar to the Dos Maderas 5+3, except this would be called 'Dos Maderas 10+5' under that naming convention (Bajan and Gyanese rums aged for ten years in the Caribbean before being transported to…  More info

Dos Maderas Luxus
$143.31

Dualist Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Dualist

Dualist Spiced Rum was created by a pair of Irish brothers - tasty in a mixed drink, cocktail or simply sipped over ice.  More info

Dualist Spiced Rum
$45.17

Dynasty White Rum 1l

100cl, 37.50%
Dynasty

A German white rum, good for use in cocktails and punches. It's got a pair of boats on the label. Picturesque.  More info

Dynasty White Rum 1l
$27.59

El Dorado Rare Collection - Enmore 1993

70cl, 56.50%
El Dorado

The Enmore from El Dorado's Rare collection, distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2015. The Rare Collection shows off rum from three of Guyana's well-loved rum distilleries - Enmore, Versailles and Port…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Enmore 1993
$217.31

El Dorado Rare Collection - Port Mourant 1999

70cl, 61.40%
El Dorado

One of a trio of rums from El Dorado's Rare Collection, launched in 2016. Each one features rum from one of three renowned Guyanese rum distilleries - this one comes from the double wooden pot still…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Port Mourant 1999
$240.25

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002

70cl, 63%
El Dorado

The El Dorado Rare Collection gives light to three of Guyana's most well-loved rum distilleries - Port Mourant, Enmore and Versailles. This one comes from the single wooden pot still of Versailles,…  More info

El Dorado Rare Collection - Versailles 2002
$193.16

Doorly's 3 Year Old - 1990s

70cl, 37.50%
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
$57.97

Epris 16 Year Old 1999 (cask 3) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 47.50%
Epris

A single cask bottling of rum from the Epris distillery in Brazil, distilled in 1999 and bottled 16 years later by Duncan Taylor.  More info

Epris 16 Year Old 1999 (cask 3) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$76.07

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
$83.88

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
$144.86

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
$63.31

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
$307.94

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)
$70.46

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
$289.83

Haitian Rum 9 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

An independent bottling of 9 year old Haitian rum, presented by Berry Brothers & Rudd, who are rather well known for their independent bottlings of whisky, as well as for being top wine merchants…  More info

Haitian Rum 9 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
$76.40

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
$59.72

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
$43.21

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
$51.55

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
$26.64

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