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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.

Drinks by the Dram Single Cracker - Rumbullion!

3cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

A single Christmas Cracker from Drinks by the Dram containing a 30ml sample dram of Ableforth's Rumbullion! spiced rum - just the ticket for warming yourself up on a chilly Christmas evening. The…  More info

Drinks by the Dram Single Cracker - Rumbullion!
$5.43

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 35cl

35cl, 40%
O.V.D.

A blend of Demerara rums, intended for mixing purposes.  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum 35cl
1
$11.36

Ron Calados Dark Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Ron Calados

Made from Caribbean rum, Ron Calados dark rum is a value for money mixing product.  More info

Ron Calados Dark Rum
$15.85
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Glen's White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Glen Catrine Distillers

This is a white rum from the West Indies, perfect for mixing in cocktails or serving over ice with a slice of lime.  More info

Glen's White Rum
$15.94
Special Offer

Dead Man's Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

A spiced rum created by the chaps behind The Rum & Crab Shack in St. Ives (which serves tasty seafood and top rum - sounds excellent to us). This is made using a blend of Caribbean rums alongside a…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Cornish Spiced Rum
5
$26.18
$17.34
Try a sample
Special Offer

Mount Gay Eclipse

70cl, 40%
Mount Gay

Distilled in Barbados, this expression from Mount Gay was named for the 'double phenomenon' of a total solar eclipse and the passage of Halley's comet in 1910.  More info

Mount Gay Eclipse
16
$20.91
$17.34

Ron Calados White Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Ron Calados

A white rum from the Caribbean, Ron Calados is a cheap and cheerful white rum which is intended for mixing with strongly flavoured drinks like finest cola…  More info

Ron Calados White Rum
1
$17.72

Cockspur Five Star

70cl, 37.5%
Cockspur

A Bajan rum aged in American white oak barrels before blending. Cockspur is buttery and spicy.  More info

Cockspur Five Star
4
$17.89

Glen's Dark Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Glen Catrine Distillers

Glen's Dark Rum. Yep. All the way from the West Indies.  More info

Glen's Dark Rum
$17.98

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
15
$18.26

Watson's Trawler Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

Navy style dark rum made using spirit from Barbados and Guyana, aged in their countries of origin.  More info

Watson's Trawler Rum
1
$18.44
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Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.5%
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
1
$18.71
Special Offer

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Ron Cubay

Matured for three years, the Carta Blanca is the youngest rum from the Cuban producers, Ron Cubay. Made exclusively using Cuban molasses, it's a top quality rum for cocktails or even enjoyed neat.  More info

Ron Cubay 3 Year Old - Carta Blanca
$24.21
$18.79
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Lamb's Navy Rum

70cl, 40%
Lamb's

Lamb's rum is a very good value for money Navy rum made with rums from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.  More info

Lamb's Navy Rum
3
$19.02

Captain Morgan Original Rum

70cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

Captain Morgan is a dark rum seen on back-bars around the world. This is made using a blend of Jamaican, Guyanese and Bajan rums. Great in loads of cocktails and mixed drinks - Captain & Cola is a…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Rum
5
$19.11

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%
$19.11
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Watson's Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
Watson's

A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.  More info

Watson's Demerara Rum
4
$19.52

Captain Morgan White

70cl, 37.5%
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
3
$19.79

Appleton Estate Special Gold

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate Gold is a special blend of rums distilled in pot and column stills. These are matured separately before being hand-blended. This is aged in refill Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey…  More info

Appleton Estate Special Gold
4
$19.79

Rebellion Ron Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

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

Rebellion Ron Blanco Rum
$20.21
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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
$20.43

Havana Club Añejo Especial

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

Añejo Especial is made from oak aged aguardientes. It is a great everyday Cuban rum, that works well in cocktails.  More info

Havana Club Añejo Especial
9
$20.55

Rumshak Spiced

70cl, 35%
Rumshak

This is a blend of a variety of Caribbean rums flavoured with mulling spices. While it's not technically a rum, as it is under 37.5% abv, it's still technically delicious.  More info

Rumshak Spiced
1
$20.55
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Rebellion Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

A beautiful Trinidadian rum from a distillery founded in 1824. The producers recommend Rebellion Spiced be served long with cola and ice (and a squeeze of fresh lime juice).  More info

Rebellion Spiced Rum
8
$20.96

Rebellion Premium Black Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

A delicious blend of rums from the Caribbean, Rebellion Premium Black is bottled in The Netherlands. This is a lovely dark rum with a superb cocoa-rich palate.  More info

Rebellion Premium Black Rum
$20.96

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