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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.

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum

35cl, 45%
Sweetdram

A cracking collaborative effort between East London-based distilling collective Sweetdram and the East London Liquor Company! This is made with a base of Demerara rum, which is combined with a…  More info

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum
$25.18

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

A 12 year old rum from Barbados-based estate, St Nicholas Abbey! Top stuff from a producer with a long history of rum production and a great reputation. Dig in.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year Old
$124.45

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A great Nicaraguan rum from Flor de Caña. This 7 year old is great as a mixing rum, and it makes a fantastic cocktail. It is aged in 180 litre white oak barrels, which are only used once before…  More info

Flor de Caña 7 Year Old
4
$25.50

Sunset Captain Bligh XO

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

An XO rum from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is distilled from molasses in a modern two column still, and it is diluted to 87.5% before it is aged in first fill Kentucky bourbon barrels for…  More info

Sunset Captain Bligh XO
2
$30.91

RedLeg Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
RedLeg

RedLeg is a superb spiced rum made with Caribbean spirit which was aged in old oak whilst being infused with Jamaican vanilla and ginger. Just superb and very good on a crisp Winter's evening!  More info

RedLeg Spiced Rum
16
$22.72

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

This is the 12 year old expression from Santiago de Cuba's range of rums. A well put-together expression from the Cuban distillers, plenty to enjoy here.  More info

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo
1
$52.45

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)
$122.75

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
$20.48

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
$31.92

Don Q 151°

70cl, 75.5%
Serralles

A blend of aged Puerto Rican rum from Don Q, bottled at 75.5% ABV. Useful for cocktails and mixed drinks when used sparingly.  More info

Don Q 151°
$44.88

Don Papa Small Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Bleeding Heart Rum Co

A richly flavoursome rum from the Philippines, inspired by the story of Papa Isio, who played a big part in the late-19th century Philippine revolution. The rum itself is made using sugar cane grown…  More info

Don Papa Small Batch Rum
6
$34.42

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A top quality 12 year old rum from the Nicaraguan producer, Flor de Caña. This is fine sipping rum, with flavours like toffee apple and buttery vanilla. We love it.  More info

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old
4
$37.22

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend

70cl, 43%
Ron Barceló

A limited edition bottling of Ron Barceló, created in celebration of 30 years production. Every year since 1980, Miguel Barceló has set aside private reserves of his rum for two extra years of…  More info

Ron Barceló Imperial Premium Blend
1
$82.82

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

The 12 year old Real McCoy rum, matured in heavily charred bourbon barrels. Rich and oak-y, with bundles of Christmas cake, Demerara sugar and pipe tobacco notes. The 'Real McCoy' name is based on…  More info

The Real McCoy 12 Year Old
$46.58

Doorly's 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

The 12 year old Doorly's Rum has finally made it to our shores! Top stuff from a top range, expect masses of tropical fruit, chewy caramel, leafy tobacco and fragrant oak notes throughout gorgeous…  More info

Doorly's 12 Year Old
3
$38.48

Elements 8 Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This tasty spiced rum was launched during the Summer for 2010. Elements 8 combines top quality dark rum with lovely Caribbean spices, as well as fruit and honey. This stuff is aged in bourbon…  More info

Elements 8 Spiced Rum
1
$32.82

Mount Gay Extra Old Cask Strength

70cl, 63%
Mount Gay

A limited edition cask strength bottling of Mount Gay Extra Old rum, released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Barbados' independence! Only 3,000 bottles of this were produced, and each comes…  More info

Mount Gay Extra Old Cask Strength
$149.00

Pirate's Grog Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

This ship-shape sight is Pirate's Grog Rum, made from a blend of Caribbean rums which are aged in bourbon barrels for 3 to 5 years on the island of Roatán. Sweet with vanilla and brown sugars, this…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum
4
$30.82

English Harbour 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

English Harbour is a rum from Antigua. This 5 year old was a Double Gold winner at the 2005 San Francisco Competition.  More info

English Harbour 5 Year Old
1
$30.72

Pusser's "Yachting" Decanter

100cl, 42%
Pusser's

A Pusser's Navy Rum decanter celebrating the sport of yachting! This gorgeous decanter, containing 1 litre of Pusser's excellent rum, is decorated with a number of different yachts, which will be…  More info

Pusser's
$85.12

Gosling's Family Reserve

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

The flagship from the Gosling's rage. Family Reserve is made using top quality rums from Bermuda. Each bottle is hand labelled, dipped in wax, packed into boxes, stamped, put in the post box, you'll…  More info

Gosling's Family Reserve
3
$61.57

Watson's Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.  More info

Watson's Demerara Rum
3
$19.92

Pusser's Blue Label

70cl, 40%
Pusser's

The Pusser's Rum collection has had a bit of a revamp. While their Blue Label is still made with the exact same blend of rums - a recipe from the Admiralty - it is now bottled at 40% abv rather that…  More info

Pusser's Blue Label
4
$23.37

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
$34.96

Clarkes Court Spicy Rum

75cl, 69%
Grenada Distillers

Bottled at a high proof, this is a delicious spiced rum which was produced in Grenada by the Clarkes Court company. Very good indeed.  More info

Clarkes Court Spicy Rum
5
$42.53

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