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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.

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum

70cl, 41.3%
Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel has added another expression to its selection - this time is a lip-smacking spiced rum! Presented in a unique and somewhat startling black ceramic bottle, the rum is flavoured with a…  More info

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum
122
$53.13

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label

70cl, 54.5%
Pusser's

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label (previously known as Blue Label) is a higher proof traditional British Naval rum, produced using the blending recipe from the Admiralty. Well loved, it picked…  More info

Pusser's 'Gunpowder Proof' Black Label
56
$42.89

Project #173 Black Cherry Rum

50cl, 42%
Project #173

The Project #173 range brings together the tastiness of rum and the tastiness of... Well, all sorts of tastiness! Specifically for this expression, the quality core of rum has teamed up with black…  More info

Project #173 Black Cherry Rum
6
$22.83

Satchmo Mojito Spirited Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Satchmo

Satchmo rum is inspired by iconic American trumpeter Louis Armstrong's nickname, Satchmo! It's flavoured with the same ingredients you'd find in a Mojito, so expect lots of lime and mint freshness in…  More info

Satchmo Mojito Spirited Rum
17
$45.69

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
6
$34.08

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength

70cl, 57%
Ableforth's

Ableforth's took their famous Rumbullion! and bottled it at Navy Strength to create a much much 'bigger' drink. This is a warming concoction that would no doubt give a sailor vim and vigour on a…  More info

Rumbullion! Navy-Strength
23
$43.46

Equiano Rum

70cl, 43%
The Equiano Rum Co.

Equiano Rum is the delicious result of a collaboration between two fabulous distilleries, marrying liquid from Barbados' Foursquare and Gray's Distillery of Mauritius. The rum from Foursquare is aged…  More info

Equiano Rum
9
$45.64

Drinks by the Dram 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection

36cl, 41.7%
Drinks by the Dram

Drinks by the Dram's 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection is just the ticket for anyone looking to pick up a brilliant pressie for a picky rum fan. Behind each of the 12 windows of this zazzy box sits a…  More info

Drinks by the Dram 12 Dram Premium Rum Collection
1
$51.47

Banana Bomb Spiced Rum

50cl, 57%
Rock Star Spirits

Rockstar Spirits, the very same folks behind Pineapple Grenade deliciousness, has crafted Banana Bomb! Oodles of ripe, tropical tastiness to behold in this one, with banana, baking spices and salted…  More info

Banana Bomb Spiced Rum
5
$36.55

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum - Unknown Deep

70cl, 40%
Kraken

What lives down in the very depths of the ocean is a mystery. Schools of those weird fish with the lightbulbs attached to their heads? Gigantic prehistoric sharks ready to jump up and become movie…  More info

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum - Unknown Deep
2
$42.26

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Special Pack

70cl, 40%
Diplomático

This zazzy gift pack from Diplomático features a full bottle of the brilliant Reserva Exclusiva Venezuelan rum, alongside a branded glass and an ice ball mold. Make an ice ball, place it in the…  More info

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Special Pack
2
$52.56

Ron La Progresiva 13

70cl, 41%
Ron La Progresiva

A terrific Cuban rum here from the Ron La Progresiva range! It was created to be a sipping rum, and it most certainly lives up to that moniker, though we're certain it will make for a phenomenal…  More info

Ron La Progresiva 13
7
$50.28

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
16
$61

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
20
$49.13

Project #173 Gingerbread Rum

50cl, 42%
Project #173

Gingerbread and rum go better together than you might first assume, with the both of them boasting brilliant spicy and sweet characteristics. The folks behind Project #173 have twigged this and…  More info

Project #173 Gingerbread Rum
5
$22.83

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
$28.59

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
9
$41.07

Rosemullion Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Rosemullion

From the Rosemullion Distillery down in Cornwall comes a Spiced Rum! It's pot distilled before it's then aged and spiced. The final aromatic spirit is then bottled at 40% ABV in this very handsome…  More info

Rosemullion Spiced Rum
5
$37.17

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
30
$36.54

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum (1.5L)

150cl, 41.3%
Fallen Angel

A 1.5 litre bottle of Fallen Angel Spiced Rum, made using a secret (and tasty) recipe of spices and vanilla. Also, the distinctive ceramic head-shaped bottle is now bigger, to accommodate for the…  More info

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum (1.5L)
9
$114.32
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Copeland Smugglers Reserve Rum

70cl, 40%
Copeland

From the Copeland folks in Ireland comes this aged rum! It blends together Barbados rum (aged in bourbon barrels) with rum distilled in Donaghadee, where the distillery is based, which was aged in a…  More info

Copeland Smugglers Reserve Rum
4
$34.26
$30.83

Hampden Estate 8 Year Old

70cl, 46%
Hampden

An impressive Jamaican rum from the Hampden Estate, boasting an age statement of eight years, and a fantastically full-bodied flavour profile. You know those yummy, punchy, estery notes we all love…  More info

Hampden Estate 8 Year Old
1
$64

Project #173 Pineapple Rum

50cl, 42%
Project #173

Pineapple is a particularly powerful flavour, but somehow it manages to go well with all sorts of foods and drinks, which is probably why it's seen as a symbol of hospitality (that's not the reason,…  More info

Project #173 Pineapple Rum
1
$22.83

Stone Gaze Sour Berry Rum

70cl, 38%
Stone Gaze

A vibrantly fruity flavoured rum here from the Stone Gaze range, featuring the likes of blackberry, damson, and gooseberry, along with Caribbean white rum. Also, it's presented in a bottle shaped…  More info

Stone Gaze Sour Berry Rum
6
$57.14

Beach Bum Rum Gold

70cl, 40%
Beach Bum Beverages

A rum from Mauritius here from those Beach Bum Rum folks! This is the Gold variant, distilled from local sugarcane which has also been infused with coconut and vanilla. Lots of rich, toasty notes…  More info

Beach Bum Rum Gold
3
$34.26

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