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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.

Cane Toad Ruby Chocolate Rum

70cl, 38%
The Zymurgorium

A rather intriguing rum here, made using ruby chocolate, which is produced with the ruby cocoa bean! It's not actually a new type of cocoa bean, rather it's an unfermented cocoa bean which retains…  More info

Cane Toad Ruby Chocolate Rum
6
$20.54

Dead Man's Fingers Mango Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Dead Man’s Fingers

As if rum wasn't already tropical enough, Dead Man's Fingers decided to take its Cornish Spiced Rum and combined it with juicy mango! We can't wait to whip up a Mango Daiquiri with this, though we're…  More info

Dead Man's Fingers Mango Rum
2
$20.57
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The Real Rum Company Spiced Rum

50cl, 40%
The Real Rum Company

A spiced rum here from the Real Rum Company range, produced using Caribbean rums at its core and boasting plenty of toasty spice notes alongside a helping of chocolatey richness in its flavour…  More info

The Real Rum Company Spiced Rum
$20.57

RedLeg Banana Rum

70cl, 37.5%
RedLeg

RedLeg Rum now has a banana-flavoured variant! If you've been planning on putting together some Banana Daiquiris, this marvellous spiced rum will be just the ticket. It's built around a core of…  More info

RedLeg Banana Rum
1
$20.57

Dead Man’s Fingers Gold Black Rum

70cl, 40%
Dead Man’s Fingers

The tasty Gold Black Rum from Dead Man's Fingers is perfect if you love rum that is hugely rich in vanilla, molasses, and caramel notes. Excellent served with ginger beer and a good wedge of fresh…  More info

Dead Man’s Fingers Gold Black Rum
1
$20.57

Jah45 Gold Rum

70cl, 40%
Jah45

A funky Jamaican rum inspired by the Kingston’s notorious sound system era, which shaped the sound of ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall.  More info

Jah45 Gold Rum
1
$20.57

Angostura Reserva

70cl, 37.5%
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
$20.57

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
32
$20.84

RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple

70cl, 37.5%
RedLeg

Another delicious spiced rum from RedLeg, this expression is infused with vanilla, Jamaican ginger and caramelised pineapple. The rum base is distilled in the Caribbean and then rested in oak, before…  More info

RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple
26
$20.84
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Iguana Rum

70cl, 40%
Iguana Rum

Iguana Rum is distilled in Panama, though it is made from a traditional recipe brought over from Cuba. Look, there's even a friendly iguana on the label to keep you company while you sip this…  More info

Iguana Rum
14
$20.85
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Ron Pampero Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.5%
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
1
$20.97

Langs Banana Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Langs

Back in the late 1800s, Langs Banana Rum was first released. At some point between then and now, it disappeared from shelves. This is not where the story ends, however, as that would be incredibly…  More info

Langs Banana Rum
9
$21.09
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Langs Pineapple Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Langs

If you saw Langs Banana Rum and thought to yourself "That sounds jolly lovely, but I do happen to prefer the deliciousness of pineapple...", you are in luck. Langs Pineapple Rum is a thing! With a…  More info

Langs Pineapple Rum
$21.09

Langs Mango & Ginger Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Langs

Joining the Langs Banana Rum range is this lip-smacking Mango & Ginger expression! Created with a marvellous Jamaican rum at its core, the juicy addition of mango and the fiery ginger makes for a…  More info

Langs Mango & Ginger Rum
$21.09

Flor de Caña 4 Extra Seco

70cl, 37.5%
Flor de Caña

The producers recommend Flor de Caña Extra Seco as a mixing rum. It is a well-made expression and has won ten international awards, notably a Platinum Award and Gold medal at the 2003 International…  More info

Flor de Caña 4 Extra Seco
$21.09

O.V.D. Demerara Rum

70cl, 40%
O.V.D.

O.V.D stands for Old Vatted Demerara, a style of rum blending unique to the Demerara region of Guyana. The rum is distilled from molasses in a wooden Coffey still in Guyana before it’s blended and…  More info

O.V.D. Demerara Rum
39
$21.51

Rum-Bar Silver

70cl, 40%
Worthy Park

Silver Jamaican rum from Worthy Park's Rum-Bar range. Well-suited for all manner of cocktails and mixed drinks - you ought to rather happy indeed to see Rum-Bar on the back-bar of your favourite…  More info

Rum-Bar Silver
1
$21.51

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

The Carta Blanca rum from Santiago de Cuba is a molasses-based rum which is initially aged in oak casks and filtered before bottling, removing the colour but not the flavour (making it a good choice…  More info

Santiago De Cuba Carta Blanca
2
$21.54

Rumbullion! (35cl)

35cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

No matter how small the vessel, Rumbullion! retains its exclamation mark. This here is a 35cl bottle of Rumbullion!, the cockle-warming spiced rum from Ableforth's stable of spectacular spirits. This…  More info

Rumbullion! (35cl)
4
$21.55

Bush Rum Original Spiced

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A classic spiced rum here from the Bush Rum Co.! The warming spirit takes a base of Caribbean rum and adds a whole host of fragrant spices. We can see this working superbly well with ginger beer...  More info

Bush Rum Original Spiced
3
$21.55

Bush Rum Mango

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A rather fruity spiced rum from the Bush Rum Co.! This one makes fabulous use of ripe mangoes, which are used to flavour the tropical spirit. The fruity influence isn't too overwhelming, with a good…  More info

Bush Rum Mango
4
$21.55

Myers's Rum

70cl, 40%
Myers's Rum

A dark rum that works well in cocktails, Myer's Rum is a Jamaican rum named after Fred L Myers who created that brand in 1879. It is a blend of 9 different rums.  More info

Myers's Rum
13
$21.59
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Bacardi Carta Oro 40%

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi is a world-class back-bar staple rum which was originally created in Cuba in the 1800s, though now produced in Puerto Rico. Bacardi Carta Oro is one of the most popular gold rums in the…  More info

Bacardi Carta Oro 40%
1
$21.59

Bayou Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Bayou Rum

A spiced rum inspired by the flavours of Louisiana! Featuring a selection of Louisiana-grown spices at its core, this lip-smacking tipple is suitable for sipping neat or enjoying with your favourite…  More info

Bayou Spiced Rum
8
$21.59

Jah45 Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Jah45

This spiced rum from Jah45 combines a blend of three year old pot still Jamaican rum along with unaged column still rums. After distillation, the blend is macerated with vanilla, cinammon, citrus and…  More info

Jah45 Spiced Rum
$21.59

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