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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.

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins' Fancy

70cl, 40%
Plantation

A fantastic treat from the Plantation range originally created by the company's cellar master Alexandre Gabriel and drinks historian David Wondrich for Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2015.…  More info

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins' Fancy
13
$36.06
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Pineapple Grenade Spiced Rum

50cl, 65%
Rock Star Spirits

Pineapple Grenade is crafted by first sourcing 100% molasses rum from the superb Diamond Distillery in Guyana. It's then imported into the UK where it was infused with a secret spice mix and the…  More info

Pineapple Grenade Spiced Rum
6
$34.93

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
1
$25.36
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Rumbullion! Navy-Strength

70cl, 57%
Ableforth's

Happy 8th birthday, Ableforth's! In celebration, you can get 10% off the Ableforth's range, including Bathtub Gin, Rumbullion!, Summer Fruit Cup and more... Ableforth's took their famous…  More info

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength
15
$51.83
$46.65
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Alnwick Rum

70cl, 43%
Alnwick Rum

Alnwick is a bold, spicy dark rum, perfect for making a big impression in cocktails and mixed drinks. Based on a recipe which was first created over 90 years ago in Northumberland, Alnwick rum is…  More info

Alnwick Rum
2
$28.01
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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
$18.01
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Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

Ahoy thar, matey! Spied this treasure chest full o' Pirates Grog rum, have ye? Yarr, shiver me timbers, this be one for me hearties... Ahem. Excuse me. As I was saying, this is a very handsome…  More info

Pirate's Grog Rum Gift Chest
6
$63.48

Santa Teresa 1796

70cl, 40%
Santa Teresa

A superb single estate Venezuelan rum, Santa Teresa 1796 is made using the solera method (used more famously in the production of Spanish sherry). The rums in the blend are aged for between five and…  More info

Santa Teresa 1796
16
$53.61
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English Harbour 5 Year Old

70cl, 40%
The Antigua Distillery

English Harbour is a rum from Antigua. This 5 year old was a Double Gold winner at the 2005 San Francisco Competition.  More info

English Harbour 5 Year Old
2
$27.80

Sunset Very Strong Rum

70cl, 84.5%
St. Vincent Distillers Ltd

An extremely high strength rum from Saint Vincent. This is distilled from molasses in a column still.  More info

Sunset Very Strong Rum
5
$45.48
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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
$18.48

Cut Overproof Rum

70cl, 75.5%
Cut Rum

An overproof edition of Cut Spiced Rum, sitting at an eye-watering 75.5% ABV. Be sure you dilute this stuff very well - ought to go handsomely with a number of classic mixers...  More info

Cut Overproof Rum
4
$41.65

La Hechicera Fine Aged Rum

70cl, 40%
La Hechicera

La Hechicera is Spanish for "the enchantress"... This rum was made in Colombia and is Solera-aged rum aged for between 12 and 21 years in bourbon barrels. Very good indeed.  More info

La Hechicera Fine Aged Rum
8
$47.38
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Diablesse Clementine Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Diablesse

From Manchester-based Diablesse comes a Clementine Spiced Rum! It's made with Demerara rum from the Diamond Distillery in Guyana, using native sugar cane molasses and traditional pot and column still…  More info

Diablesse Clementine Spiced Rum
8
$33.83

The Salford Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Salford Rum

The Salford Spiced Rum is something of a tribute to the dock workers who helped bring the city's Caribbean rum and spice imports through Salford Docks during the 1800s. It was fittingly distilled…  More info

The Salford Spiced Rum
3
$43.36

Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros

70cl, 45%
Havana Club

The new edition of Havana Club's very popular Cuban Barrel Proof, Seleccion de Maestros is a superb rum, bottled at higher strength.  More info

Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros
14
$56.47

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
$19.06

Santiago De Cuba Añejo

70cl, 38%
Santiago de Cuba

From the Santiago De Cuba range (presumably named after the second largest city in Cuba) comes this Añejo rum, which has been aged in white oak barrels. Good for use in cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Santiago De Cuba Añejo
4
$31.94
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Cut Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Cut Rum

Cut Spiced Rum is made with a blend of rums distilled in Jamaica and Trinidad, blended with a selection of botanicals to enhance the flavours. This includes cinnamon, lemon, coriander seed, ginger,…  More info

Cut Spiced Rum
3
$25.22

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum

70cl, 41%
Sweetdram

A fascinating rum created by those inventive Sweetdram folks, made using a base of aged Guyanese rum. In this rum, they macerate lime leaf, chamomile, cardamom, fennel, grains of paradise and fig, as…  More info

Sweetdram Smoked Spiced Rum
4
$29.59

Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum

50cl, 40%
Firebox

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you phoenixes, harvest their tears and make Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum. This glittery tipple is made with a base of Caribbean rum along with…  More info

Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum
2
$41.28
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Diplomático Mantuano

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

From the fantastic Diplomático Rum selection, produced in Venezuela, comes their Mantuano expression.  More info

Diplomático Mantuano
1
$30.66
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Rum Sixty Six 12 Year Old Cask Strength

70cl, 59%
Foursquare

A cask strength variation of Rum Sixty Six 12 year Old, produced by the Foursquare distillery in the warm Bajan climate. Impressive and powerful stuff (good value for money, too).  More info

Rum Sixty Six 12 Year Old Cask Strength
2
$46.84

Labourdonnais 5 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

50cl, 49.8%
Labourdonnais

An independent bottling of 5 year old Mauritian rum produced by the Labourdonnais distillery using a traditional column still. It was bottled by That Boutique-y Rum Company and bestowed a handsome…  More info

Labourdonnais 5 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)
1
$55.01
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Santiago de Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Santiago de Cuba

This is the 12 year old expression from Santiago de Cuba's range of rums. A well put-together expression from the Cuban distillers, plenty to enjoy here.  More info

Santiago de Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo
4
$71.42
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