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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.

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
$22.54

Bush Rum Tropical Citrus

70cl, 37.5%
Bush Rum Co.

A terrifically tropical treat from Bush Rum! The Tropical Citrus expression packs oodles of pineapple, mango, orange, and yet more citrus into the spirit, making for a drink that'll be marvellous for…  More info

Bush Rum Tropical Citrus
1
$22.54

Base Spirits Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
Base Spirits

Dark rum is a fab spirit for cocktails, offering up vibrant fruit notes alongside rich, warming spices from its maturation. That'll be why Base Spirits has created its own Dark Rum that has been…  More info

Base Spirits Dark Rum
$22.54
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Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A 5 year old Panamanian rum from Ron Abuelo. It is made at Varela-Hermanos, which is a third generation family distillery that grows its own sugar cane and ages its rum in white oak barrels.  More info

Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial
3
$22.55
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Nusa Caña Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Nusa Caña

This Spiced variant from Nusa Caña was inspired by the Spice Islands of Indonesia, bundling in nutmeg, clove, cacao, coffee and ginger alongside pineapple. A thoroughly warming and subtly sweet…  More info

Nusa Caña Spiced Rum
1
$22.58

Peaky Blinder Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Peaky Blinder

Named after the Peaky Blinders street gang from the later 19th and early 20th Century, this is a black spiced rum that has been blended with various spices to help accentuate the rum's flavour…  More info

Peaky Blinder Black Spiced Rum
52
$22.59

Saint James Impérial Blanc

70cl, 40%
Saint James

Saint James Impérial is a very fresh and tangy white rhum agricole from Martinique, perfect in a Planters Punch on a hot summer's day...  More info

Saint James Impérial Blanc
5
$22.59

Flor de Caña 7 Gran Reserva

70cl, 40%
Flor de Caña

A great Nicaraguan rum from Flor de Caña. Great as a mixing rum, and it makes a fantastic cocktail. It is aged in 180 litre white oak barrels, which are only used once before maturation - which gives…  More info

Flor de Caña 7 Gran Reserva
12
$22.59

Two Swallows Citrus & Salted Caramel Rum

50cl, 38%
Rock Star Spirits

From Two Swallows comes a spiced rum, produced by the Diamond Distillery in Guyana which was then infused with candied citrus and salted caramel! It's not an every day combination, but darn does it…  More info

Two Swallows Citrus & Salted Caramel Rum
20
$22.59

Black Magic Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Sazerac

Black Magic Spiced Rum is a blend of light and dark rums, along with a secret recipe of spices, which help to bolster the rum's flavour profile. Expect big ol' helpings of vanilla, cherry, runny…  More info

Black Magic Spiced Rum
23
$22.75

Stroh Inländer 40

70cl, 40%
Stroh Inländer

Made in Austria, Stroh is a popular spiced rum and a brand which was created in Klagenfurt in 1832. Great when used in a variety of cocktails, such as a Jagertee or a Punch, Stroh 40 is flavoured…  More info

Stroh Inländer 40
$23

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

A Gold award winner at the 2003 International Rum Festival Awards. Gosling's Gold is a blend of pot still and continuous still spirits from Bermuda, aged for around five years.  More info

Gosling's Gold Bermuda Rum
7
$23

Mooncurser Rum

70cl, 37.5%
The Cornish Distilling Co.

From the folks over at The Cornish Distilling Co. comes Mooncurser, a Cornish spiced rum! The name comes from the legendary moon cursers, smugglers who would steal imports in the night around the…  More info

Mooncurser Rum
1
$23.11

Appleton Estate Signature Rum

70cl, 40%
Appleton Estate

The Signature rum from Appleton Estate has had quite the makeover! The fabulous Jamaican rum has been aged in small casks before being blended and married in oak, and bottled at 40% ABV. A…  More info

Appleton Estate Signature Rum
6
$23.28

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink

70cl, 35%
Old J

Based around the vibrant flavours of Persian lime and vanilla paired with classic rum notes, Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink (technically it's not a rum, as its ABV is under 37.5%) goes great over ice…  More info

Admiral Vernon's Old J Spiced Rum Spirit Drink
23
$23.28

Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum

50cl, 38%
Rock Star Spirits

Cherry, salted caramel, and rum. Yeah, this all sounds pretty good, doesn't it? The folks at Rockstar Spirits have created another delicious treat for its Two Swallows range featuring rum from…  More info

Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum
19
$23.30
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Bounty Dark Rum

70cl, 43%
St. Lucia Distillers

This blend of a 3-year-old column still rum and a 6-year-old pot still rum was aged in ex-Bourbon casks to create a sumptuous dark rum that works in a selection of classic cocktails.  More info

Bounty Dark Rum
$23.37

Bacardi Añejo Cuatro

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi is best known for its white rum, but it does do some excellent aged products. This 4 year old is a brand new addition to the line-up and sits between the Carta Oro rum, which is primarily for…  More info

Bacardi Añejo Cuatro
2
$23.37

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

An award winning rum; this took a silver at the 2006 and 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competitions. This also attained a Gold at the International Review of Spirits. A great mixing rum, very…  More info

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum
9
$23.51
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Compañero Triple Pack (3 x 50ml)

15cl, 44.7%
1423

Three fab miniature bottles of rum from 1423's Compañero range – a tasty treat for any rum fan out there! This set includes a 50ml bottle of the follow three fantastic expressions: Panama Extra Añejo…  More info

Compañero Triple Pack (3 x 50ml)
$23.58

ARLU Original Spiced Rum

50cl, 40%
ARLU

Here we have the Original Spiced Rum from ARLU, the brainchild of the same folks behind Didsbury Gin! The liquid is distilled at Guyana’s ever-wonderful Diamond Distillery, and then blended in…  More info

ARLU Original Spiced Rum
1
$23.58

ARLU Blood Orange Rum

50cl, 40%
ARLU

A twist on the Original Spiced Rum from ARLU, the Blood Orange expression sees a vibrant kick of tart citrus alongside the buttery sweetness of the original. We reckon this should make an intriguing…  More info

ARLU Blood Orange Rum
1
$23.58

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum

70cl, 41.2%
Plantation

Plantation 3 Stars is a crisp, tasty white rum made by blending spirit produced in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. Some of the rums in the blend are aged, though their colour is removed via a process…  More info

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum
5
$23.58
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ARLU Passionfruit & Mango Rum

50cl, 40%
ARLU

This fruit-forward expression comes from the trio of spiced rums from ARLU, Passionfruit & Mango is... Well, it's fairly self explanatory! The Original Spiced Rum has been given a tropical twist with…  More info

ARLU Passionfruit & Mango Rum
$23.58

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged

70cl, 40%
Plantation

The Original Dark expression from Plantation has had a little bit of a revamp! It's now made with aged rum from Trinidad and Jamaica, which then blended together and aged further in Cognac casks,…  More info

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged
13
$23.61
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