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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.

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
$23.89

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
$23.93
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Ron Barceló Gran Añejo

70cl, 37.5%
Ron Barceló

A beautifully smooth, sweet Dominican rum from Ron Barceló, Gran Añejo is a perfect mixer and works tremendously well in a variety of dark rum cocktails, or you could just have it with a few ice…  More info

Ron Barceló Gran Añejo
10
$23.93

Tanduay Gold Asian Rum

70cl, 40%
Tanduay

Tanduay Gold Asian Rum comes to us from the Philippines, having aged in bourbon barrels for seven years before being bottled up. Enjoyably fruit-forward, with plenty of warming spice to offer a…  More info

Tanduay Gold Asian Rum
$23.93

Santa Teresa Claro

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A Venezuelan rum aged in American white oak for around 3 years before being filtered to remove the colour. Santa Teresa Claro offers plenty of fruity notes, and is great in cocktails.  More info

Santa Teresa Claro
1
$23.93
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Matusalem Platino Rum

70cl, 40%
Matusalem

A triple distilled white rum, aged using the solera method in the Dominican Republic. Matusalem Platino is crisp, clean and tangy, and works beautifully in cocktails.  More info

Matusalem Platino Rum
1
$23.94

Two Swallows Orange & Ginger Rum

50cl, 38%
Rock Star Spirits

The Two Swallows range gets a third flavour (which I guess adds up to six of the eponymous birds?) with this Orange & Ginger Rum! Combining Guyanese rum with tangy citrus and spicy ginger makes for a…  More info

Two Swallows Orange & Ginger Rum
5
$24.20

Two Swallows Banana & Salted Caramel

50cl, 38%
Rock Star Spirits

Banana and caramel is a great combo, similar to the glory of banoffee (perhaps banana and caramel could be 'banaramel'?). So, it only seems right that the Rock Star Spirits team has made a banana…  More info

Two Swallows Banana & Salted Caramel
$24.24

Two Swallows Pineapple & Salted Caramel

50cl, 38%
Rock Star Spirits

The Rock Star Spirits team has brought together rum, pineapple, and salted caramel into one spirit with its Two Swallows range! This expression really shows off the brilliance of pineapple and rum,…  More info

Two Swallows Pineapple & Salted Caramel
$24.24
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Gosling's Black Seal

70cl, 40%
Gosling's Rum

Gosling’s Black Seal combines rums from both pot and continuous column stills. The name comes from the black wax that was originally used to seal the bottles, but now there’s an actual black seal on…  More info

Gosling's Black Seal
24
$24.35
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Takamaka Rum Blanc

70cl, 38%
Takamaka Rum

A white rum from the Seychelles-based Takamaka rum range. Crisp and subtly sweet, this'll make the perfect base for cocktails and mixed drinks...  More info

Takamaka Rum Blanc
1
$24.39
Best Seller

Green Island Superior Light Rum

70cl, 40%
Green Island

A young, light rum from Green Island, a great producer of rum in Mauritius. This is distilled from molasses in a four column still, and the rum in the bottle is aged for between 3 and 5 years in oak.…  More info

Green Island Superior Light Rum
3
$24.43

Matusalem Añejo

70cl, 38%
Matusalem

Dominican rum from the Matusalem, boasting a wealth of caramel and dark fruit deliciousness. Matusalem was once based in Cuba, but following the Castro revolution, it moved to the Dominican Republic.…  More info

Matusalem Añejo
$24.45

Angostura 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Angostura

A mix of both light and full bodied rums produced in Angostura's five column still set up. It is aged for between 5 and 8 years in American Oak Bourbon barrels. The results are fruity, caramel rich…  More info

Angostura 5 Year Old
$24.45

Bougainville Lemongrass Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

This flavoured rum was distilled by the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius using Bougainville's award-winning white rum as a base, which was infused with lemongrass to create a zesty…  More info

Bougainville Lemongrass Rum
$24.45

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old

70cl, 38%
Ron Mulata

Sugar cane rhum from Ron Palma Mulata de Cuba aged for three whole years in American oak before being bottled as a blanco 'reserva'.  More info

Ron Mulata Blanco Reserva 3 Year Old
$24.48

Bougainville Vanilla Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

One of a number of exceptional rums from the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius, this flavoured edition was distilled using Bougainville's award winning white rum as a base, which…  More info

Bougainville Vanilla Rum
2
$24.51

Jah45 Silver Rum

70cl, 40%
Jah45

A white rum from the Jah45 range, made using a blend of rums from various Jamaican distilleries. Inspiration for this one comes from the eclectic music scene of Kingston, Jamaica.  More info

Jah45 Silver Rum
$24.61

Rum-Bar Gold

70cl, 40%
Worthy Park

Great value-for-money 4 year old rum from Jamaica's excellent Worthy Park Estate. Great for sipping over ice, and adds oodles of character to cocktails.  More info

Rum-Bar Gold
1
$24.70

Nusa Caña Tropical Island Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Nusa Caña

Some say that Indonesian rum was being crafted from sugar long before it was being made in the Carribean. Nusa Caña Rum was created to honour that forgotten spirit using a blend of island rums,…  More info

Nusa Caña Tropical Island Rum
$24.74
Best Seller

Banditti Club

50cl, 44%
The Glasgow Distillery Co.

A spiced rum from The Glasgow Distillery Co.! Banditti Club is, funnily enough, named after the Banditti Club, a group of rogues who used to gather in Glasgow’s pubs, singing, eating and playing…  More info

Banditti Club
21
$24.81

Legendario Ron Dorado

70cl, 38%
Legendario

Great for cocktails and mixed drinks, Legendario's Ron Dorado is a subtly sweet, seductive Cuban rum. Should make for a good Palmetto, we reckon.  More info

Legendario Ron Dorado
$24.90

Balla Black Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Cockspur

Spiced rum from the folks behind the Cockspur rum range, built around spiced from the Caribbean. They recommend serving it in a Zombie cocktail, or simply mixed with cola and a good wedge of lime for…  More info

Balla Black Spiced Rum
18
$24.91
Best Seller

Siddiqui Brown Rum

70cl, 40%
Siddiqui

This Brown Rum from Siddiqui (pronounced 'sid-dee-key') aims to bridge the gap between whisky and rum. It takes a base of Siddiqui White Rum, and then leaves it to rest in American oak, where it…  More info

Siddiqui Brown Rum
2
$24.91

Bougainville White Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

From the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this white rum that was crafted from Mauritian molasses fermented at low temperatures for 14 to 20 days before being double…  More info

Bougainville White Rum
1
$24.91

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