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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.

Mount Gay Eclipse

70cl, 40.0%
Mount Gay

Distilled in Barbados, this expression from Mount Gay was named for the 'double phenomenon' of a total solar eclipse and the passage of Halley's comet in 1910.  More info

Mount Gay Eclipse
9
$20.74

Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum

70cl, 40.0%
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
$32.38

Caroni 15 Year Old Rum

70cl, 52.0%
Caroni

15 year old Trinidadian rum from Caroni, bottled by Velier.  More info

Caroni 15 Year Old Rum
$74.55

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38.0%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
$26.94

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum

70cl, 40.0%
St. Lucia Distillers

Spiced rum from Saint Lucia. Impressively, it was the only spiced or flavoured rum to receive a Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2013.  More info

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum
2
$22.45

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46.0%
Hampden

Another handsome Kill Devil rum bottled by Hunter Laing, this time from Hampden Estate in Jamaica. 316 bottles were produced.  More info

Hampden 16 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$66.86

Port Morant 25 Year Old 1990 Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish (Bristol Spirits)

70cl, 46.0%
Port Morant

25 year old demerara rum! Bottle by Bristol Spirits in 2015, it was distilled in Guyana back in 1990.  More info

Port Morant 25 Year Old 1990 Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish (Bristol Spirits)
$175.43

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40.0%
Havana Club

A 7 year old Cuban rum, awarded gold medals at the Chicago World Spirits Championship in both 1995 and 1997. This was "añejo" the first Havana Club expression intended for sipping. Also makes a…  More info

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old
13
$25.72

Santiago De Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40.0%
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
$53.21

Appleton Estate 21 Year Old

70cl, 43.0%
Appleton Estate

A well-aged 21 year old Jamaican rum from the Appleton Estate. Following maturation this was blended and married in casks for two years.  More info

Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
3
$150.92

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend

70cl, 43.0%
Appleton Estate

Previously known as "12 Year Old Extra", Appleton's Rare Blend is a top rum aged in American oak barrels.  More info

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend
4
$39.11

Nicaraguan Rum 17 Year Old 1999 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 59.5%
Hunter Laing

A cask strength bottling of Nicaraguan rum from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range. This was distilled in January 1999 and allowed to mature in a single cask for 17 years before being bottled at a…  More info

Nicaraguan Rum 17 Year Old 1999 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$93.94

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario

70cl, 40.0%
Flor de Caña

Flor de Caña 18 year old is a very well-aged expression from Nicaragua. This was awarded Double Gold medals at the 2006 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  More info

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario
3
$57.60

Flor de Caña 12 Year Old

70cl, 40.0%
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
$43.67

Angostura 1919 Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Angostura

A rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company, this is a blend of spirit aged for at least eight years in bourbon barrels.  More info

Angostura 1919 Rum
5
$33.47

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

Ahoy thar, matey! Spied this treasure chest full o' Pirates Grog rum, have ye? Yarr, shiver me timbers, this be one for me hearties... Ahem. Excuse me. As I was saying, this is a very handsome…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest
4
$64.81

Gosling's Family Reserve

70cl, 40.0%
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
$54.00

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Kraken

An excellent spiced rum, with utterly brilliant packaging! This was launched in the UK in early 2010, and it has an extraordinarily rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
41
$23.20

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum

70cl, 40.0%
J Wray and Nephew

Blackwell Black Gold Rum was created by Chris Blackwell, who also happens to be the owner of Island Records. The dark rum itself is distilled and blended by J. Wray & Nephew in Jamaica. It was made…  More info

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum
1
$21.28

Dark Matter Spiced Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Dark Matter

The first release from Scotland's Dark Matter Distillers is Dark Matter Spiced Rum - very exciting stuff! Created in Banchory by two brothers, Jim and John Ewen, Dark Matter Spiced Rum is a…  More info

Dark Matter Spiced Rum
20
$36.72

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 1.5l

150cl, 40.0%
William Grant

The O.V.D. is a blend of Demerara rums and flavoured with spices to create this easy drinking rum in a whopping 1.5 litre bottle.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 1.5l
$51.59

La Hechicera Fine Aged Rum

70cl, 40.0%
La Hechicera

La Hechicera is Spanish for "the enchantress"... This rum was made in Colombia and is Solera-aged rum aged for between 12 and 21 years in bourbon barrels. Very good indeed.  More info

La Hechicera Fine Aged Rum
5
$43.02

Skipper Demerara Rum

70cl, 40.0%
Skipper

A delicious dark rum distilled in Guyana, Skipper was launched in 1930 and it still has the same label! A rich, thick spirit which works brilliantly well in cocktails, or with cola and a squeeze of…  More info

Skipper Demerara Rum
3
$20.34

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

75cl, 49.5%
Smooth Ambler

A marvellously impressive rum released by the chaps at Smooth Ambler out in West Virginia, USA. They've got a good nose for great spirits (as obvious from their Old Scout whiskey), and have bottled…  More info

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum
3
$80.96

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old

70cl, 40.0%
Rum Nation

Panamanian rum from Rum Nation. Not Zombie Nation. That's something different.  More info

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old
$100.25

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