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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.

The Last Drop 1976 Very Old Jamaica Rum

75cl, 68.5%
The Last Drop

The Last Drop has gone and bottled up a tremendous rum all the way from Jamaica! This expression was distilled back in 1976, and was aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 43 years, with part of that…  More info

The Last Drop 1976 Very Old Jamaica Rum
$3,122.50

Black Tot 40 Year Old

70cl, 44.2%
Black Tot

Following on from the Black Tot Last Consignment, this range continues to shine a spotlight on extraordinarily old rums with the Black Tot 40 Year Old. A Demerara rum distilled back in 1975 in…  More info

Black Tot 40 Year Old
3
$1,556.04

Dictador 1979 Barton 1792 - 2 Masters

70cl, 46%
Dictador

Dictador's 2 Masters series shows off long-matured Colombian rum with interesting cask finishes, making for some incredible expressions. For example, this one right here was distilled in 1979 and…  More info

Dictador 1979 Barton 1792 - 2 Masters
$1,072.02

St Nicholas Abbey 22 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St Nicholas Abbey

From St Nicholas Abbey in Barbados comes an incredibly well-matured single cask rum, which has been bottled at 22 years of age. Always a treat to see rum reach lofty ages like this, and likely to be…  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 22 Year Old
1
$780.63

Caroni 23 Year Old 1997 - Single & Single

70cl, 64%
Caroni

Independent whisky bottler Single & Single has got something a little different here – a rum! It's not just any rum, mind. For its first rum bottling, Single & Single have bottled up a 23 year old…  More info

Caroni 23 Year Old 1997 - Single & Single
1
$652.40
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Dictador 1977 Royal Tokaji - 2 Masters

70cl, 46.2%
Dictador

Dictador's 2 Masters series sees well-matured Colombian rum finished in some particularly interesting casks. This expression, for example, was distilled all the way back in 1977, and given a…  More info

Dictador 1977 Royal Tokaji - 2 Masters
$623.80

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1992

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

Incredible 25 year old rum from the El Dorado range. Distilled in Guyana in 1992, this expression was allowed to mature for over quarter of a century, before being bottled up at 43% ABV. Not only is…  More info

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1992
3
$452.71

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
$437.15

Demerara Rum 1989 (cask 11) - Samaroli

70cl, 45%
Samaroli

Another fabulous release from independent Italian bottler Samaroli. This Demerara rum was distilled in Guyana in 1989 and bottled in 2018 at 45% ABV. During this time, the rum was matured in Scotland…  More info

Demerara Rum 1989 (cask 11) - Samaroli
$373.66

Havana Club Tributo 2019

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

It's the 2019 release of the wonderful Havana Club Tributo! This is the fourth release of the special rum, and which was launched at the 2019 Habanos Festival in Cuba. Created by three generations of…  More info

Havana Club Tributo 2019
1
$364.30

Caroni Navy Rum Extra Strong - 100th Anniversary

70cl, 51.4%
Caroni

A very cool bottling of rum from the closed Caroni distillery in Trinidad, celebrating the 100th anniversary of its opening back in 1918. The aged rum has been bottled at 90° proof as a team effort…  More info

Caroni Navy Rum Extra Strong - 100th Anniversary
$312.20

Base Spirits Dark Rum (10L)

1000cl, 40%
Base Spirits

We love dark rum-based cocktails, and we know that's a common thing. They're very good, so it makes sense. Bars end up going through plenty of dark rum as a result of this, so it also makes sense…  More info

Base Spirits Dark Rum (10L)
$287.86

Facundo Paraiso XA

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

A blend of rums up to 23 years old, with a higher proportion of older rums than any others in the Facundo range. Finished in XO Cognac casks it comes in a decanter bottle engraved with the Bacardi…  More info

Facundo Paraiso XA
$260.20

St Nicholas Abbey 15 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St. Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey in Barbados won Best Distillery at Rumfest 2012, whilst this rare single cask 15 year old offering won a Gold at the Rum Masters.  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 15 Year Old
$256.36

Port Morant 25 Year Old 1990 Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish (Bristol Spirits)

70cl, 46%
Port Morant

25 year old demerara rum! Bottle by Bristol Spirits in 2015, it was distilled in Guyana back in 1990.  More info

Port Morant 25 Year Old 1990 Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish (Bristol Spirits)
$255.01

Jamaican Rum 29 Year Old - Edition No.6 (Rum Sponge & Decadent Drinks)

70cl, 57.7%
Decadent Drinks

Decadent Drinks and Rum Sponge (which sounds awfully similar to Whisky Sponge, doesn't it...?) have gone and bottled up a particularly funky rum right here! This is a 29 year old rum from Jamaica,…  More info

Jamaican Rum 29 Year Old - Edition No.6 (Rum Sponge & Decadent Drinks)
1
$254.96

Jamaica 1994 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection

70cl, 57%
1423

Glorious Jamaican rum, distilled back in 1994 and independently bottled in February of 2021, by the experts at 1423! Brimming with rich estery character, they certainly got their hands on a lovely…  More info

Jamaica 1994 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection
$234.18

Enmore Still 1988 (Bottled 2008) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 43%
Enmore

A Demerara rum distilled by Enmore in 1988, matured in used bourbon casks until it was bottled by Bristol Spirits in the UK in 2008. Warming and sweet with burnt sugar and spice, followed by a long,…  More info

Enmore Still 1988 (Bottled 2008) - Bristol Spirits
$228.98

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)
$218.58

Uitvlugt (Port Mourant Still) 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 53.2%
Uitvlugt

26 year old rum from Uitvlugt's Port Mourant still. The distillery has since sadly closed, though indie bottlers like That Boutique-y Rum Company somehow manage to get their hands on rare rums like…  More info

Uitvlugt (Port Mourant Still) 26 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
1
$211.24
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Barbados 2001 (bottled 2021) (cask 4) - Samaroli

70cl, 54%
Samaroli

An indie bottling of well-aged rum all the way from Barbados, distilled back in 2001. Eventually, in 2021, it was bottled up in Scotland by Samaroli, a company with a long history of bottling…  More info

Barbados 2001 (bottled 2021) (cask 4) - Samaroli
$211.24

Enmore (Versailles Still) 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 51.2%
Enmore

A 27 year old Guyanese rum from the long-closed Enmore distillery, independently bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company. It was produced using the Versailles single wooden pot still during its brief…  More info

Enmore (Versailles Still) 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
$208.12

Uitvlugt 22 Year Old 1999 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 52%
Uitvlugt

A glorious cask strength rum from the long-closed Uitvlugt Distillery in Guyana, bottled up by Hunter Laing for the Kill Devil series. Distilled in 1999, this expression spent 22 years maturing in a…  More info

Uitvlugt 22 Year Old 1999 Guyanese Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$199.96

Long Pond 23 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

70cl, 42.2%
Long Pond Distillery

A cracking cask strength addition to indie bottler Hunter Laing's Kill Devil rum series. Distilled at Jamaica's Long Pond Distillery in September 1998, this rum was treated to a generous maturation…  More info

Long Pond 23 Year Old 1998 Jamaican Rum - Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)
$192.56

Uitvlugt 22 Year Old 1999 - Old & Rare Rum

70cl, 63.9%
Uitvlugt

Independently bottled rum from the Uitvlugt Distillery, which is sadly no more. This particular bottling was distilled in 1999, and was matured for 22 years (for 12 months it aged in Guyana, before…  More info

Uitvlugt 22 Year Old 1999 - Old & Rare Rum
$187.35

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