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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.

Saint Lucia Distillers 13 Year Old - St. Lucia Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)

70cl, 43%
Saint Lucia Distillers

Distilled in April 2002 and bottled in Ocotber 2015, this molasses rum spent over 13 years maturing in an ex-Heaven Hill bourbon barrel.  More info

Saint Lucia Distillers 13 Year Old - St. Lucia Rum (Compagnie Des Indes)
$74.77

Rhum Rhum PMG (41%)

70cl, 41%
Rhum Rhum

Rhum Rhum PMG comes to us from the island of Marie Galante, which is just off the coast of Guadeloupe. A rhum agricole made using some intriguing sugar cane varieties and using traditional techniques…  More info

Rhum Rhum PMG (41%)
$43.74

Clément 10 Year Old 2003 (cask 0310054) - Single Cask

50cl, 42.80%
Clément

A 10 year old single cask Clément rhum! Selected by the cellar master, the outturn of the ex-bourbon cask was 459 bottles at 42.8% abv - each one is packed with intense vanilla notes.  More info

Clément 10 Year Old 2003 (cask 0310054) - Single Cask
$53.58

Flamboyant Vieux Rum

70cl, 40%
International Distillers Mauritius

Produced in Mauritius, Flamboyant Vieux Rum is a blended expression that has been aged in oak casks for 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels before being bottled. The rum gets its name from the tree on the…  More info

Flamboyant Vieux Rum
$35.33

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Foursquare

This is a 3 year old rum from the Real McCoy range, which has been aged in American oak bourbon barrels before enjoying a filtration process to remove the colour imparted by the maturation, but not…  More info

The Real McCoy 3 Year Old
$26.66

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Pampero

A crisp, fruity white rum produced in Venezuela by Ron Pampero. Aged for at least 2 years (as is the law in the country for all rum), this is a smooth, premium spirit which works well in cocktails,…  More info

Ron Pampero Blanco Rum
$20.00

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
$34.02

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
$24.72

Ron Barceló Blanco

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Barceló

A white rum from the Ron Barceló range, produced in the Dominican Republic. It spends one year in oak barrels, before it is barrelled, allowing it to develop some more character and flavour.  More info

Ron Barceló Blanco
$24.09

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
$39.72

Sunset Light Rum SLR

75cl, 40%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

A white rum distilled on the island of Saint Vincent. Sunset SLR was created in 1998, and it has a light, delicate flavour that works well in cocktails.  More info

Sunset Light Rum SLR
$24.00

Watson's Trawler Rum 35cl

35cl, 40%
Watson's

A blended rum with spirit from Guyana and Barbados and a seal of approval winner at the 1997 International Spirits Challenge.  More info

Watson's Trawler Rum 35cl
$9.84

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
$30.49

Dos Maderas 5+3

70cl, 37.50%
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
$38.19

Bacardi Carta Fuego Spirit Drink

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A warming spiced-rum-based-spirit-drink from Bacardi, with a focus on the fiery notes of cinnamon. Bacardi Carta Fuego ages in torched oak barrels for at least a year and is charcoal filtered before…  More info

Bacardi Carta Fuego Spirit Drink
$25.01

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel

70cl, 40%
Clément

To achieve the depth of flavour and wonderful mouth-feel for their Select Barrel Rhum Vieux Agricole, the Clément distillers in Martinique choose only the finest casks to create the expression with.…  More info

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole - Select Barrel
$37.85

Captain Morgan White

70cl, 37.50%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan White is a classic Caribbean rum that works splendidly in cocktails and mixed drinks. Captain-and-Coke is a tasty combination enjoyed in bars and pubs the world over.  More info

Captain Morgan White
2
$17.47

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)
$22.77

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
$28.78

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años

70cl, 40%
Ron Vigia

18 year old Cuban rum from the Ron Vigia range. Rich and inviting with notes of thick molasses, tobacco leaf and dark chocolate.  More info

Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 Años
$80.87

Zuidam Flying Dutchman White Rum

70cl, 40%
Zuidam

Flying Dutchman White Rum is made with pure cane molasses and may be the first ever European rum! This triple-distilled white rum has been aged for 6 months in oak casks and won a Silver Medal at the…  More info

Zuidam Flying Dutchman White Rum
$28.61

Rebellion Ron Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Rebellion

Rebellion Blanco is a superb white rum from Trinidad rum with a wonderfully crisp, fruity palate.  More info

Rebellion Ron Blanco Rum
$19.73

J. Bally Rhum Agricole Blanc

70cl, 50%
J. Bally

A white rum from the Martinique. This J Bally Blanc was distilled from fresh sugar cane juice in the rhum agricole style.  More info

J. Bally Rhum Agricole Blanc
$32.03

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
$44.96

Dzama 3 Year Old Rhum

70cl, 52%
Compagnie Vidzar

Dzama Rhum is made on the exotic island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. This rum has been aged for three years before it was bottled. It has a stunningly full palate of candied orange peel, coffee…  More info

Dzama 3 Year Old Rhum
$37.49

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