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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. 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.

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
$28.69

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
$32.12

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
$45.08

Origenes Reserva Especial 18 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Alcoholes y Rones de Panama

An excellent 18 year old rum, which was created by Francisco 'Don Pancho' Fernandez Perez. Top stuff from an man with many years of experience in crafted high quality rum under his belt.  More info

Origenes Reserva Especial 18 Year Old
$61.12

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
$37.59

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
$132.27

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A white rum which needs very little introduction, Bacardi's Carta Blanca is incredible popular indeed, seen on backbars around the world. The Bacardi brand originated in Cuba, and the first…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
$20.57

Papagayo Organic Fairtrade Golden Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Papagayo

Rum from Paraguay with a sweet flavour. This is completely organic and has been produced to Fair Trade standards.  More info

Papagayo Organic Fairtrade Golden Rum
$24.13

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
$21.98

La Mauny VSOP Rhum Vieux Agricole

70cl, 40%
La Mauny

La Mauny VSOP is an absurdly beautiful shade of golden brown, almost glowing with a burning red effervescence. These dazzling colours are matched in flavours, as the VSOP is an absolutely incredible…  More info

La Mauny VSOP Rhum Vieux Agricole
2
$50.51

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Herman Jansen

Holy Spirit Gold Label is an aged rum from Barbados, released by the chaps behind the Sweden Rock Festival. Plenty of creamy vanilla, tropical fruit and a touch of chocolate - enjoy in a cocktail,…  More info

Sweden Rock Holy Spirit Gold Label Rum
$43.62

New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum

70cl, 40%
Grays

This is the New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum, matured in a selection of French Limousin casks and port pipes. This Mauritian rum is suited to sipping neat or being used in a cocktail which…  More info

New Grove Old Tradition 5 Year Old Rum
$33.83

Atlantico Private Cask

70cl, 40%
Atlantico

Atlantico Private Cask is a rich, thick blend of small batch rums, aged up to 25 years old. Oak, dark berry and toffee notes a-plenty. Also, the Atlantico brand is endorsed by the singer Enrique…  More info

Atlantico Private Cask
4
$41.74

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
$35.63

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold

70cl, 35%
Captain Morgan

A rounded, medium bodied spiced spirit drink (to be classified as a rum, it needs to be 37.5% abv) known the world over. Captain Morgan's Spiced is great value for money, and needs little…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold
25
$18.23

Long Pond Distillery 15 Year Old 2000 (cask 65) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 51.90%
Long Pond Distillery

A single cask independent bottling of rum from the Long Pond distillery in Jamaica, famous for being where the much-loved Captain Morgan brand was established. This was distilled in 2000 and matured…  More info

Long Pond Distillery 15 Year Old 2000 (cask 65) - Single Cask Rum (Duncan Taylor)
$74.85

Rhum J.M Gold

70cl, 50%
Rhum J.M

Rhum agricole from Martinique, aged in oak casks for at least 12 months.  More info

Rhum J.M Gold
$42.71

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.50%
The Rum Company

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

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum
$26.22

Diplomático Añejo

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

A supple, medium bodied rum from Diplomático, this Añejo is a blend of both continuous and pot still rums and is aged for around 4 years.  More info

Diplomático Añejo
$25.18

Ron Centenario 20

70cl, 40%
Centenario International

Costa Rican rum aged for up to 20 years in a solera system of American oak barrels. Produced by Centenario Internacional whose rums weren't available outside of Costa Rica until 2007!  More info

Ron Centenario 20
$60.50

Mariënburg Rum

70cl, 81%
Suriname Alcoholic Beverages

A white rum from Suriname, the smallest country in South America and the birthplace of Dutch footballers Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf and Aron Winter! Although also bottled at an eye-watering 90%,…  More info

Mariënburg Rum
$44.11

Angostura Reserva

70cl, 37.50%
Angostura

3 year old white rum from Trinidad, this is distilled in Angostura's 5-column still, and is aged in American oak bourbon barrels.  More info

Angostura Reserva
3
$21.90

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
$121.70

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
$83.71

Dzama 6 Year Old Rhum

70cl, 45%
Compagnie Vidzar

Spicy notes swim in a sea of delicious vanilla in the wonderful Dzama (pronounced "zama") 6 Year Old Rhum from Madagascar, made by Vidzar. It has aged splendidly, giving it a handsome hue and a very…  More info

Dzama 6 Year Old Rhum
$43.64

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