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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.

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum

70cl, 57%
Smith and Cross

A Navy Strength edition of the classic Smith and Cross Jamaica rum, this stuff is beautiful for sipping neat, and works tremendously well with a couple of ice cubes and a squeeze of lime juice.  More info

Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum
4
$38.42

El Dorado 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

A great 12 year old Demerara rum from El Dorado. This has won golds at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test in London 7 times in the first 10 years! There are nine stills at the distillery, and this is based…  More info

El Dorado 12 Year Old
17
$41.21

SangSom

70cl, 40%
SangSom

SangSom is a Thai rum that gained great popularity in the 1980's, thankfully it is once again beginning to get a lot more attention internationally. SangSom is made from sugar cane molasses and is…  More info

SangSom
4
$19.13

Angostura 1919 Rum

70cl, 40%
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
7
$37.39

Ron Cartavio XO

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

Very old rum from Peruvian distillers Ron Cartavio. You may not have heard of Peruvian rum before, but this might be just the introduction you're looking for. The Ron Cartavio XO is matured in…  More info

Ron Cartavio XO
5
$80.80

Bacardi 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi's premium rum release, the 8 year old is blended with rums aged for between 8 and 16 years.  More info

Bacardi 8 Year Old
11
$33.06

Owney's Original Rum

70cl, 40%
The Noble Experiment NYC

Owney's Original Rum comes to us from The Noble Experiment NYC, established by Bridget C. Firtle in 2012. Named in honour of Owen 'Owney' Madden, a Prohibition-era rum-runner and speak-easy…  More info

Owney's Original Rum
$51.09

Plantation Original Dark Overproof

70cl, 73%
Plantation

A staggering overproof rum sourced from Trinidad and created by the Cognac Ferrand estate. This stuff is bottled at 73% abv and is aged in young bourbon casks before bottling.  More info

Plantation Original Dark Overproof
1
$42.88

Old Grog

70cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

Old Grog takes it's name for from the rum shipped from Grenada to England for King George III. This rum was labelled Georgius Rex Old Grenada and the abbreviation was taken to name this golden rum.  More info

Old Grog
3
$36.48

Blackwell Black Gold Fine Jamaican Rum

70cl, 40%
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
$23.78

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
$48.20

Pyrat XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Pyrat

The bottle based on the design of those kept by ship's captains and pirate during the 19th Century. The rums in this blend are aged as much as fifteen years in American oak and French Limousin…  More info

Pyrat XO Rum
17
$45.96

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

An indulgent 15 year old rum from Ron Mulata, produced in Cuba, exclusively making use of their top quality Cuban cane syrup. It has been aged in 180 litre oak casks, which the distillers say give it…  More info

Ron Mulata 15 Year Old Gran Reserva Añejo
2
$65.68

Caña Brava 3 Year Old Rum

70cl, 43%
Las Cabras

Caña Brava is produced at the Panamanian distillery, Las Cabras, under the watchful eye of Francisco "Don Pancho" J. Fernandez. It is aged for 18 to 24 months in new American oak barrels before being…  More info

Caña Brava 3 Year Old Rum
$31.51

Dictador 20 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Dictador

Aged in a Solera system for between 14 and 24 years, this delicious Colombian rum was made by the Dictador company. It is brought down to bottling strength with demineralised water slowly - drop by…  More info

Dictador 20 Year Old
7
$59.28

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23

70cl, 40%
Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala

A firm favourite here at the Master of Malt, this is a truly superb Guatemalan rum, blended using the solera system. Sublime stuff. This was matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. The Beverage…  More info

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23
28
$63.15

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
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
$30.09

RedLeg Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
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
14
$24.24

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 12 year old dark rum from Ron Abuelo of Panama. They age their rum in whiskey barrels, which adds a distinct vanilla sweetnses. This 12 year old was launched in 2009, and is elegant, slightly smoky…  More info

Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old
4
$39.04

Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario

70cl, 40%
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
$64.35

Angostura 12 Year Old "1824"

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A top quality rum hand selected by the master blender from select casks at Angostura. This is matured in American oak bourbon barrels for at least 12 years when it is blended and re-casked. It offers…  More info

Angostura 12 Year Old
6
$65.75

Foursquare Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Foursquare

One of the best spiced rums on the market, Foursquare is a delicious Bajan rum which makes an incredible spicy mojito!  More info

Foursquare Spiced Rum
3
$26.48

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla

50cl, 40%
St Aubin

St Aubin Agricole Rhum Vanilla is a delicious, laid back rum combined with vanilla grown on the St Aubin plantations in Mauritius. The sugary addition from the vanilla makes this an excellent rum for…  More info

St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla
$32.74

Don Q Cristal

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The entry level expression from the Don Q rum range - the Don Q Cristal is made using multiple distillation method to achieve its desired flavour profile, and allowed to rest in American oak barrels…  More info

Don Q Cristal
$28.83

Ron de Jeremy XO

70cl, 40%
Ron de Jeremy

The Ron de Jeremy range of rums continues to grow. Ron de Jeremy XO is made using a blend of well-aged pot and column distilled rums from Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana, matured in American bourbon…  More info

Ron de Jeremy XO
$48.12

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