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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.

Virgin Gorda Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

When you hear a name like The Poshmakers, you can't help but be worried there's a top hat or an ironic joke about the upper class on the way. Luckily for everyone involved, they're actually a…  More info

Virgin Gorda Rum
$42.52

Revolver Rum

70cl, 40%
Rathlee

Revolver Rum is the first release from the Rathlee Distilling Company! It's inspired by the blending of two very different cultures - the Colombian city of Bogotá (the largest city on Colombia, we'll…  More info

Revolver Rum
$39.54

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum

70cl, 40%
Grace Rum

While Cor Cor Green is a Japanese rum made with freshly pressed sugar cane, Cor Cor Red is a classic, molasses-based rum produced on the island of Minamidaitojima, south of the main islands which…  More info

Cor Cor Red - Okinawan Rum
$59.03

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Jefferson's

Jefferson's 1785 is a rich, enjoyable and good value for money dark rum, perfect for mixing and sipping over ice. Of course, it's named after one of the American Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.  More info

Jefferson's 1785 Dark Rum
$32.67

Foursquare 2004 (bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Foursquare

This Bristol Spirits bottling, comes from the Foursquare distillery (nothing to do with the app) in Barbados. It was distilled in 2004 and left to mature until 2013, when it was bottled at 43% ABV.…  More info

Foursquare 2004 (bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits
$53.33

J. Bally Rhum Ambre

70cl, 45%
J. Bally

Delicious gold rhum agricole made in Martinique, J Bally Ambre is brilliant on the rocks, or in a Mai Tai…  More info

J. Bally Rhum Ambre
$30.05

Caribbean Blended Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 46%
Duncan Taylor

A blended rum from 2001 - bottled by Duncan Taylor.  More info

Caribbean Blended Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$51.26

Stroh Inländer Rum - early 1980s

100cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

A bottle of Stroh Inländer Rum, which we think was produced in the early 1980s, and bottled at an incredibly intense 80% ABV. Blimey.  More info

Stroh Inländer Rum - early 1980s
$148.51

Chairman's Reserve White Label

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

From the Chairman's Reserve range comes the White Label rum, which was actually aged in American white oak barrels for two to four years. Afterwards, it was filtered to remove the colour, but not the…  More info

Chairman's Reserve White Label
$20.78

Florida Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Florida Distillers

Made with Florida sugar cane and distilled in Florida, this rum does what it says on the tin! It's rested in American oak barrels before the final filtration. Perfect for mojitos.  More info

Florida Rum
$21.56

Bacardi Superior 1l - 1970s

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A 1970s one litre bottling of classic Bacardi Superior Carta Blanca white rum. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are…  More info

Bacardi Superior 1l - 1970s
$185.63

Francisco Montero 50th Anniversary Rum

70cl, 40%
Francisco Montero

A rich expression from Ron Francisco Montero, who have been producing rum since 1963. It was released in 2013, marking their 50th anniversary. The rum features spirits aged for at least 10 years.  More info

Francisco Montero 50th Anniversary Rum
$78.32

Dynasty White Rum 1l

100cl, 37.5%
Dynasty

A German white rum, good for use in cocktails and punches. It's got a pair of boats on the label. Picturesque.  More info

Dynasty White Rum 1l
$23.56

Clarke's Court Special Dark Rum

75cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This is a dark rum from Clarkes Court which is aged in ex-Bourbon casks to give it it's amber hue and oaky flavour.  More info

Clarke's Court Special Dark Rum
$30.25

Guyanan Rum 14 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

70cl, 46%
Berry Brothers and Rudd

Guyana once had a rather bustling distillery community back in the day, but those days have sadly passed. However, don't be sad for too long, as Berry Bros. & Rudd can still get their hands on…  More info

Guyanan Rum 14 Year Old (Berry Bros. & Rudd)
1
$66.46

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum

70cl, 40%
The Poshmakers

Virgin Gorda 1493 is a golden blend of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados, the oldest of which is eight years old. The producers describe it as 'sensual'.  More info

Virgin Gorda 1493 Spanish Heritage Rum
$32.94

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

Distilled for the Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, just south of Guadeloupe, this rhum agricole spends 8 years maturing in oak before it is bottled. Rich, simmering spices abound!…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 8 Year Old Tres Vieux
$96.48

Westerhall Estate 2003 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Westerhall

Distilled on the island of Grenada in 2003, this rum was then bottled in the the UK by Bristol Spirits in 2015.  More info

Westerhall Estate 2003 (bottled 2014) - Bristol Spirits
$67.08

Rhum de Père Labat 50

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

A 50% ABV bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, produced on the island of Marie-Galante, which is located just south of Guadeloupe. At 50% ABV, this will stand out in cocktails…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 50
$31.43

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum - 1980s

100cl, 57%
Wood's

Thought to date from the 1980s, a rare and old 100cl bottle of Wood's Navy Rum. This bottle was part of a private collection. More detailed information and photographs of this item are…  More info

Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum - 1980s
$148.51

Glorious Revolution Rum

50cl, 40%
Spirit Masters LTD

Made with cane molasses from Africa and the Americas, Alan and Amanda Collins distil their rum in their artisanal alembic (with lentil) near Newmarket after a fourteen day fermentation. Launched at…  More info

Glorious Revolution Rum
$30.13

Monymusk Overproof White Rum

70cl, 63%
Monymusk

An overproof white rum produced in Jamaica by the Monymusk Estate. Triple distilled and bottled at 63% ABV, this will certainly stand out in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Monymusk Overproof White Rum
$30.54

Medford Rum

75cl, 40%
GrandTen Distilling

New England used to be rather renowned for its rum, with rum from Medford being well regarded to the point of it becoming somewhat of a "thing". Though this was a long time ago, GrandTen Distilling…  More info

Medford Rum
$34.63

New Grove Solera 25 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

Solera-aged rum from Mauritius, distilled for the New Grove brand of tasty rums. This limited edition bottling is made using rums aged for at least 25 years, expertly blended to produce a rich,…  More info

New Grove Solera 25 Year Old Rum
1
$164.67

Diamond Distillery 1998 - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Diamond Distillery

This is a 1998 vintage Demerara rum from Guyana's Diamond Distillery, independently bottled by Bristol Spirits in the UK. A mellow, sippable rum which works well over ice or in cocktails.  More info

Diamond Distillery 1998 - Bristol Spirits
1
$70.49

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