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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.

Legendario Carta Blanca Superior

70cl, 40%
Legendario

An elegantly flavoursome rum which spends a short time in oak casks to develop its flavour profile. Part of the Legendario range of Cuban rums.  More info

Legendario Carta Blanca Superior
$32.83

Angostura 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A mix of both light and full bodied rums produced in Angostura's five column still set up. It is aged for between 5 and 8 years in American Oak Bourbon barrels. The results are fruity, caramel rich…  More info

Angostura 5 Year Old
$23.85

Rhum J.M White

70cl, 50%
Rhum J.M

A white Rhum Agricole from Martinique. Rhum JM offers an intense aroma of pepper, floral notes and tropical fruit, with a sweet, warming palate with loads of flavour.  More info

Rhum J.M White
$38.33

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole

70cl, 40%
La Mauny

La Mauny 1749 Ambré is an aged Rhum Agricole from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean. 1749 Ambré is matured for at least 12 months before it is bottled.  More info

La Mauny 1749 Ambré Rhum Agricole
$29.42

Dos Maderas 5+3

70cl, 37.5%
Williams & Humbert

A blend of 5 year old Bajan and Guyanaese rums (aged in American oak), which is then sent over to Jerez for a further maturation in Dos Cortado Palo Cortado Sherry casks.  More info

Dos Maderas 5+3
$36.85

Ron Cortez Blanco (Silver)

70cl, 40%
Varela Hermanos

A classic white rum from Varela Hermanos, a distiller in Panama. Light, simple and well suited to mixing and cocktails.  More info

Ron Cortez Blanco (Silver)
$21.97

Karukera Silver

70cl, 40%
Karukera

Good for use in cocktails, Karukera Silver is an unaged rhum agricole from Guadeloupe produced using distilled sugar cane juice. Try it with cane sugar syrup and lime for a refreshing Ti' Punch…  More info

Karukera Silver
$27.78

La Bourdonnaise 5 Year Old - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
La Bourdonnaise

5 year old Mauritian rum matured in an ex-Sherry cask before being bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2015.  More info

La Bourdonnaise 5 Year Old - Bristol Spirits
$43.38

Bellevue 16 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Bellevue

This is a very interesting single cask bottling from the Compagnie Des Indes range - a 16 year old rum from the Bellevue distillery in Guadeloupe. It was matured in cask #CG1704 from April 1998 to…  More info

Bellevue 16 Year Old 1998 - Guadeloupe Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$69.18

Captain Morgan Black Label 1l - 1980s

100cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

Got a collection of Captain Morgan bottles? This ought to pique your fancy - a 1 litre 1980s bottling of Captain Morgan Black Label!  More info

Captain Morgan Black Label 1l - 1980s
$127.29

Bacardi Carta Negra 40%

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Rich, sweet dark rum from one of the most well known spirits brands in the world - Bacardi. This bottling of Bacardi Carta Negra has been bottled at a slightly-higher-than-usual 40% ABV, and still…  More info

Bacardi Carta Negra 40%
1
$21.16

Trois Rivières Ambré Rum

70cl, 40%
Trois Rivieres

A smart and very tasty gold rhum agricole from the Martinique-based Trois Rivières. This is an affable, quaffable spirit distilled from fresh sugar cane juice. Great value for money and stunning in…  More info

Trois Rivières Ambré Rum
$34.29

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.5%
The Rum Company

A simple white Jamaican rum from the Coruba range - good for cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum
$25.23

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a rhum agricole from the Père Labat range, distilled on the small island of Marie-Galante in 1997. Bottled at 42% ABV, this ought to be rather rich and flavoursome expression, packed with the…  More info

Rhum Vieux du Père Labat Millesime 1997
$117.12

Angostura 7 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A blend of aged rums, matured in bourbon barrels before undergoing filtration. This is a continuous-still rum from Trinidad and Tobago's famed Angostura company.  More info

Angostura 7 Year Old
1
$32.92

Ron Cartavio Silver

70cl, 40%
Destilerias Unidas

This is the Silver expression of Peruvian rum from Ron Cartavio, matured in oak barrels for 2 years. However, as it's a clear rum, it's well suited to cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Ron Cartavio Silver
$22.38

Mezan Guyana Diamond 2005 Rum

70cl, 40%
Diamond Distillery

A 2005 vintage rum from the well-known Diamond distillery in Guyana, independently bottled by Mezan. Full of yummy herbaceous notes alongside light hints of banana and a touch of oak spice.  More info

Mezan Guyana Diamond 2005 Rum
$36.66

Cockspur Five Star

70cl, 37.5%
Cockspur

A Bajan rum aged in American white oak barrels before blending. Cockspur is buttery and spicy.  More info

Cockspur Five Star
2
$24.84

Stroh Inländer 40

70cl, 40%
Stroh Inländer

Made in Austria, Stroh is a popular spiced rum and a brand which was created in Klagenfurt in 1832. Great when used in a variety of cocktails, such as a Jagertee or a Punch, Stroh 40 is flavoured…  More info

Stroh Inländer 40
$24.13

Lamb's Navy Rum 1.5l

150cl, 40%
Lamb's

Lamb's is a classic rum blended from 18 different pot still rums from the Caribbean. The result is a rich, oaky Navy rum.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum 1.5l
$48.65

Ron Calados Dark Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Ron Calados

Made from Caribbean rum, Ron Calados dark rum is a value for money mixing product.  More info

Ron Calados Dark Rum
$15.50

FAIR. 10 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
FAIR.

A limited edition release from the FAIR. range, this 10 year old rum is a Fairtrade Certified made with sugar cane from Belize, matured in American oak casks for a whole decade.  More info

FAIR. 10 Year Old Rum
$55.27

Don Q Gold

70cl, 40%
Serralles

Don Q Gold is produced in Puerto Rico using a multiple distillation technique, and is allowed to age in American oak barrels before it's bottled. A good choice for sipping neat or splashing in a…  More info

Don Q Gold
$25.89

Clairin Sajous 2013

70cl, 53.5%
Distillerie Chelo

A Haitian style of rhum agricole here from the Clairin Sajous, made using sugar cane juice which has been reduced over fires of the remains of the sugar cane and fermented using wild yeasts (a bit…  More info

Clairin Sajous 2013
$47.75

Smatt's Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Smatt's

Perhaps the first 'super-premium' white rum from Jamaican producer Smatt. Think Grey Goose Vodka, Junipero Gin - that kind of super-premium. Jolly nice.  More info

Smatt's Silver Rum
1
$46.50

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