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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.

Brazil 2011 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 56.6%
Epris

Behold, the very first Brazilian rum to be bottled by 1423 for the Single Barrel Selection! It was distilled from both molasses and sugar cane juice at the Epris Distillery in 2011. It was left in a…  More info

Brazil 2011 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$101.61

Griffiths Brothers Nine Tails Cask-Aged Rum

70cl, 42%
Griffiths Brothers Distillery

A rich, toasty rum from the Nine Tails range from Griffiths Brothers over in Buckinghamshire! Guyanese Demerara rum has been aged in American white oak casks at the distillery, before being bottled…  More info

Griffiths Brothers Nine Tails Cask-Aged Rum
3
$31.83

Montanya Valentia Rum

70cl, 40%
Montanya

From Colorado's Montanya comes Valentia Rum, released to celebrate women in the spirits industry. Valentia means "courage" and "grit" in Spanish, and spent its first three and a half years of ageing…  More info

Montanya Valentia Rum
1
$46.17

Opthimus 15 Rum

70cl, 38%
Oliver & Oliver

An excellent Solera-aged rum from the Opthimus range, produced by Oliver y Oliver.  More info

Opthimus 15 Rum
$51.76

Griffiths Brothers Nine Tails White Spiced Rum

70cl, 42%
Griffiths Brothers Distillery

For this expression from the Griffiths Brothers Nine Tails rum range, a base of white Guyanese rum is (rather unusually) cold distilled with local English honey, Persian lime, and ginger, along with…  More info

Griffiths Brothers Nine Tails White Spiced Rum
$29.47

Guyanan Rum 24 Year Old - Berry's Best (Berry Bros. & Rudd) (La Maison du Whisky 60th Anniversary)

70cl, 46%
Berry Bros. & Rudd

An independently bottled rum from Guyana, released in celebration of La Maison du Whisky's 60th Anniversary, alongside a massive selection of top-notch drinks. This particular rum was aged for 24 and…  More info

Guyanan Rum 24 Year Old - Berry's Best (Berry Bros. & Rudd) (La Maison du Whisky 60th Anniversary)
$215.67

Samaroli Pacific Oblivion 2009 (bottled 2021) (cask 24)

70cl, 45%
Samaroli

Independently bottled rum from Samaroli, this expression was distilled on the Fiji Islands in 2009. The rum rested in a single cask until 2021 when the clever team at Samaroli cracked it open for…  More info

Samaroli Pacific Oblivion 2009 (bottled 2021) (cask 24)
$112.68

Samaroli Pacific Oblivion 2009 (bottled 2021) (cask 23)

70cl, 45%
Samaroli

Glorious Fijian rum here, distilled in 2009 and matured in a single cask until 2021 when it was independently bottled up by Samaroli. An extremely elegant sipper – another cracking bottling from…  More info

Samaroli Pacific Oblivion 2009 (bottled 2021) (cask 23)
$112.68

Renegade Dunfermline Column Still Rum

70cl, 50%
Renegade Rum Distillery

From the groundbreaking Grenadan Renegade Rum Distillery comes this exceptional rum, produced from single origin sugar cane! For over a decade, Renegade has been working on reintroducing different…  More info

Renegade Dunfermline Column Still Rum
$56.43

Jester White Rum

50cl, 40%
Shakespeare

A British rum here from the Shakespeare Distillery in Stratford-upon-Avon, made with British molasses, fermented for seven days at the distillery. Following that, it's distilled twice, and eventually…  More info

Jester White Rum
$34.86

Jamaica Rum 2006 (cask 22) - Samaroli

70cl, 50%
Samaroli

We don't know exactly which distillery this rum hails from in Jamaica, but we do know that after it was distilled in 2006 it was matured in Scotland in a single cask. Samaroli bottled it in 2020,…  More info

Jamaica Rum 2006 (cask 22) - Samaroli
$140.65

Habitation Saint-Étienne Rhum Black Sheriff

70cl, 40%
Habitation Saint-Etienne

Martinican rhum agricole from Habitation Saint-Étienne, which has been matured in bourbon barrels sourced from Kentucky and Missouri.  More info

Habitation Saint-Étienne Rhum Black Sheriff
$43.07

Mad City Botanical Rum

70cl, 40%
Foxhole Spirits

From the same folks behind HYKE Gin comes Mad City Botanical Rum! Keeping in line with its mission to utilise surplus, this expression was made specifically with molasses-based rums (as molasses is a…  More info

Mad City Botanical Rum
$30.03

Spirit of Ilmington Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Spirit of Ilmington

A spiced rum from the Spirit of Ilmington folks, perfect for enjoying over ice with a good wedge of lime on a balmy summer evening. Should also do well with your favourite mixers, so go ahead and…  More info

Spirit of Ilmington Spiced Rum
$35.90

Old Mother Hunt Golden Rum

50cl, 44%
Old Mother Hunt

This delightful rum is double pot distilled up in Scotland by the Old Mother Hunt family, before being allowed to mature in virgin oak casks. With a delicate golden hue and gentle cask influence, it…  More info

Old Mother Hunt Golden Rum
$30.75

Mezan Guyana Diamond 2008 Rum

70cl, 46%
Diamond Distillery

Mezan has bottled up another Guyanese rum for us from the Diamond Distillery! This one is a 2008 vintage, distilled in the famous wooden Port Mourant stills. Matured in bourbon casks, there's lots of…  More info

Mezan Guyana Diamond 2008 Rum
$53.34

Bougainville XO Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

The Oxenham Craft Distillery from Mauritius created this XO rum using its white rum as a base spirit which was diluted down before it was aged for a minimum of 6 years in seasoned Oloroso sherry and…  More info

Bougainville XO Rum
$137.42

Lost Years Silver Moon Rum

70cl, 40%
Lost Years

It's a white rum from the Lost Years range! A blend of unaged rums from Caribbean go into this one – specifically, Coffey still rum from Jamaica, and high-ester pot still rum from Barbados. The folks…  More info

Lost Years Silver Moon Rum
$29.74

El Destilado Overproof Oaxacan Rum

70cl, 52.3%
El Destilado

Another rum all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico, bottled up as part of the El Destilado range. Like its sibling expression, this one was distilled by Isidoro Krassel Peralta using raw sugar cane juice,…  More info

El Destilado Overproof Oaxacan Rum
2
$41.03

Bougainville Lemongrass Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

This flavoured rum was distilled by the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius using Bougainville's award-winning white rum as a base, which was infused with lemongrass to create a zesty…  More info

Bougainville Lemongrass Rum
$24.13

Highball Express Reserve Blend 12

70cl, 40%
Highball Express

The Highball Express rum range was named after the flights that people would take during Prohibition in America to places where alcohol was legal. This expression is made using a blend of Caribbean…  More info

Highball Express Reserve Blend 12
$39.40

Takamaka Rum Zenn

70cl, 40%
Takamaka Rum

An intriguing rum here from the Takamaka range, produced in the Seychelles. It's a blend of pot and column distillates, which has not been aged, but it has been pressed with the fines of oak wood…  More info

Takamaka Rum Zenn
$27.53

Darkwood 13 Year Old 2007 (cask 5) - Heroes & Heretics

70cl, 50.9%
Heroes & Heretics

Heroes & Heretics has bottled up a rum for us! Darkwood is a Caribbean rum distilled in February 2007, and it was rested in a single cask for 13 years until it was bottled in August 2020. A limited…  More info

Darkwood 13 Year Old 2007 (cask 5) - Heroes & Heretics
$91.36

Liv Navy Strength White Rum

50cl, 57.5%
Liv Rums

A Navy Strength variation of Liv's white rum, produced at the micro-distillery in Livingston, Scotland (by the same folks behind the excellent Matugga Rum. The distillers ferment the sugar cane…  More info

Liv Navy Strength White Rum
$30.76

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1976

70cl, 40%
Malecon

A 1976 vintage rum from Panama's Malecon and its Seleccion Esplendida range. Malecon take plenty of influence from Cuban rum production methods, so don't be surprised to find similarities between…  More info

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1976
$431.34

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