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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.

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

70cl, 46%
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)
$68.06

Six Saints Caribbean Rum

70cl, 41.70%
Six Saints Rum

Six Saints Caribbean Rum comes to us from Grenada after being aged in bourbon barrels and bottled at 41.7% ABV. Though Grenada is known as the 'Island of Spice', this isn't actually a spiced rum!…  More info

Six Saints Caribbean Rum
1
$43.83

Gunroom Navy Rum

50cl, 65%
Gunroom

From the Gunroom Spirit ranges comes a Navy Rum, made with a blends of rums from a number of origins, including Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica and a secret origin too... It's been bottled at a…  More info

Gunroom Navy Rum
$39.03

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
$175.87

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum

70cl, 57%
Wood's

Wood's is made from the finest sugar cane and distilled in Guyana, South America. Bottled at 57% abv, it is one of the highest percentage volume dark rums out there right now, at least at this…  More info

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum
22
$27.37

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof

70cl, 63%
J Wray and Nephew

The best-selling high proof rum in the world. 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are of Wray and Nephew. Overproof is a very potent spirit indeed!  More info

J Wray and Nephew White Overproof
39
$28.54

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
$32.96

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum

70cl, 38.50%
Cargo Cult

Named for Melanesian beliefs held on remote islands that John Frum, probably a corruption of "John from..." (American serviceman having visited during the second World War bringing with them goods…  More info

Cargo Cult Spiced Rum
$34.36

Rhum J.M. Vintage 1994

70cl, 45.20%
Rhum J.M

A 1994 vintage Rhum Agricole from the Rhum J.M. distillers in Martinique. From 1994 to 2009, this intense, vibrant rum, made from pressed-sugar cane juice rather than molasses, matured in oak. It has…  More info

Rhum J.M. Vintage 1994
$202.97

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar

70cl, 40%
Brugal

A very special old rum from Brugal. This was twice distilled and aged in American oak before a finish in Spanish oak sherry casks. A delicious dark rum from the Dominican Republic.  More info

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar
4
$43.75

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
16
$22.09

Foursquare 14 Year Old 2001 Bajan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Foursquare

A single cask rum bottling from Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range, distilled in 2001 the outturn was 353 bottles.  More info

Foursquare 14 Year Old 2001 Bajan Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$61.71

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition

70cl, 47%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

Created for the self-described "hardest working man in showbiz", this is a spiced variant on the superb Ron de Jeremy. It's a Panama rum, flavoured with vanilla and various exotic spices, and…  More info

Ron de Jeremy Spiced - Hardcore Edition
8
$35.55

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
$130.48

Pink Pigeon Original

70cl, 40%
Pink Pigeon

A fabulous rum from Mauritius, flavoured with vanilla and spices including nutmeg. It was named for the Pink Pigeon, a bird that is native to the island and recently climbed from critically…  More info

Pink Pigeon Original
9
$27.37

Skipper Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
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
5
$20.70

Ron Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2015

70cl, 45%
Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala

It's the 2015 release of Ron Zacapa's very popular Reserve Limitada rum, blended by Lorena Vasquezusing rums aged between 6 and 24 years old. The casks previous held whisky and Pedro Ximénez before…  More info

Ron Zacapa Reserva Limitada 2015
4
$89.88

La Hechicera Fine Aged Rum

70cl, 40%
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
7
$43.79

Trinidad Rum 23 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 46%
Hunter Laing

From Hunter Laing's Kill Devil range comes a 23 year old rum from an undisclosed distillery in Trinidad, which was distilled in December 1991. Just 338 bottles were produced.  More info

Trinidad Rum 23 Year Old 1991 - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$122.31

Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
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
19
$26.18

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest

70cl, 37.50%
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
5
$65.97

The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. Spiced Rum

50cl, 42%
The Sweet Potato Spirit Co

A rather intriguing sip from the Sweet Potato Spirit Co. - a Spiced Rum made with a mash of sweet potato and sugar cane molasses!  More info

The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. Spiced Rum
$31.83

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
$58.64

Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
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
4
$22.85

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
4
$25.98

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