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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.

Expedition Superior Light White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Hall and Bramley

A white rum which has been distilled in Guyana and Barbados, then bottled by Hall & Bramley. Just the ticket for cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Expedition Superior Light White Rum
$14.70

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
$98.60

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
$68.55

Elements 8 Platinum

70cl, 40%
Elements 8 Rum

This white/platinum rum is matured for 4 years in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, blended from over 10 different rums. Element 8 is diluted with naturally filtered rainforest water.  More info

Elements 8 Platinum
$31.99

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
$32.13

Bielle 2008 40th Anniversary

70cl, 53.4%
Distillerie Bielle

Natural cask strength rhum agricole from Marie-Galante bottled to celebrate Bielle's 40th anniversary in 2015. A limited release of 1,500 bottles.  More info

Bielle 2008 40th Anniversary
$99.51

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Sancti Spiritus

Single cask rum from Cuba, distilled in 2003 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2012. Yum!  More info

Sancti Spiritus 2003 (bottled 2012) - Bristol Spirits
$45.01

Don Q Cristal

70cl, 40%
Serralles

The entry level expression from the Don Q rum range - the Don Q Cristal is made using multiple distillation method to achieve its desired flavour profile, and allowed to rest in American oak barrels…  More info

Don Q Cristal
$25.18

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
$30.80

Bacardi Reserva Limitada

100cl, 40%
Bacardi

A rather rare sight on these shores, Bacardi Reserva Limitada rum was originally only available from the distillery's gift shop! It's made with a blend of well-aged Puerto Rican rums, resulting in a…  More info

Bacardi Reserva Limitada
$209.74

Banks 5 Island Rum

70cl, 43%
Banks

Banks 5 Island is a blend of five rums from distilleries in Trinidad, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They add a little Batavia Arrack from Java and the result is a beautiful cocktail rum. Highly…  More info

Banks 5 Island Rum
$43.04

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
$31.21

Clément 10 Year Old

70cl, 42%
Clément

A very rich, decadent expression from the Clément collection of marvellous Martinique rhum agricole. After spending 10 years in a selectin of re-charred and virgin oak barrels, this has taken on…  More info

Clément 10 Year Old
$69.41

Ron Botran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Botran

Botran Reserva is a delicious Guatemalan rum aged for between 5 and 14 years. Made from the best virgin sugar honey, this rum is aged in a Solera system in a mix of bourbon, port and sherry casks.  More info

Ron Botran Reserva
3
$38.40

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
$40.32

Epris 16 Year Old 1999 (cask 3) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 47.5%
Epris

A single cask bottling of rum from the Epris distillery in Brazil, distilled in 1999 and bottled 16 years later by Duncan Taylor.  More info

Epris 16 Year Old 1999 (cask 3) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$66.39

Doorly's 8 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Doorly's

An 8 year old rum from Barbados joins the wonderful Doorly's range! As ever, it's got a tropical bird on the label and the bottle is filled with top-notch rum - dig in!  More info

Doorly's 8 Year Old
$32.16

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
$168.29

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux

70cl, 42%
Rhum de Père Labat

This is a 3 year old rhum agricole, distilled for Rhum de Père Labat on the island of Marie-Galante, using fresh sugar cane juice. Oodles of fruity, floral notes (this grapefruit, mango and…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 3 Years Old Rhum Vieux
$52.56

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
$72.04

FAIR. 11 Year Old Rum

70cl, 50.7%
FAIR.

Ooh, the FAIR. folks have release an even older rum than their last one (the excellent 10 Year Old)! The FAIR 11 Year Old rum from Belize is made with Fair Trade certified sugar cane, and features…  More info

FAIR. 11 Year Old Rum
$61.57

New Grove Plantation Rum

70cl, 42%
Grays

A simple white rum from Mauritius, made by New Grove. Sweet and slightly nutty with a hint of grass, like how you imagine sugar cane should taste. Ought to make good friends with your favourite…  More info

New Grove Plantation Rum
$28.46

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
$23.98

Clément XO Rhum Agricole

70cl, 44%
Clément

This Martinique rhum agricole from Clément is a premium release for the brand, featuring vintages that date back to the 1970s and even one that goes back to the 1950s, among other younger vintages.…  More info

Clément XO Rhum Agricole
$171.72

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Made in Kingston, Jamaica, Appleton Estate Classic White rum is exactly that; a classic white rum. Perfect for mixing, it wouldn't go amiss in a Yellow Submarine or a traditional mojito.  More info

Appleton Estate Classic White 40%
$17.56

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