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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.

Ron Santiago de Cuba 11 Years Old Añejo Superior

70cl, 40%
Ron Santiago de Cuba

11 year old rum from the brilliant Ron Santiago de Cuba. A deliciously spicy expression, with enough fruity esters and brown sugar notes to balance it out wonderfully.  More info

Ron Santiago de Cuba 11 Years Old Añejo Superior
3
£40.94
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Pineapple Grenade Spiced Rum

50cl, 65%
Rockstar 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
32
£34.29
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Banana Bomb Spiced Rum

50cl, 57%
Rockstar 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
7
£35
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Aluna Coconut Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Aluna

Aluna Coconut Rum is made with a tasty combination of Guatemalan and Caribbean rums, which have been brought together alongside toasted coconut and coconut water - with a particular eye towards…  More info

Aluna Coconut Rum
2
£22.45

Hawksbill Spiced Rum

70cl, 38.8%
Hawksbill

A spiced rum here from Hawksbill with a mission – to protect the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle. Rums from Guyana and Trinidad have been bolstered with vanilla, raisin, cinnamon, nutmeg,…  More info

Hawksbill Spiced Rum
7
£28.83
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Mauritius Dodo Silver Rum Dodo Bottle

100cl, 40%
Mauritius Dodo

As if the Silver Rum from Mauritius Dodo wasn't already awesome enough, the crafty folks behind the rum decided to actually present it in a dodo-shaped bottle! The flightless bird (native to…  More info

Mauritius Dodo Silver Rum Dodo Bottle
2
£116.63

Secret Dominican 8 Year Old 2013 Single Cask (Master of Malt)

70cl, 58%
Master of Malt

Marvellous multi-column distilled rum from the Dominican Republic, matured for eight years in an ex-Maderia barrel between 2013 and 2021. That sentence alone ought to be enough to excite the rum fans…  More info

Secret Dominican 8 Year Old 2013 Single Cask (Master of Malt)
2
£44.95

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
£23.94
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Admiral Rodney Rum - HMS Royal Oak

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

St. Lucia Distillers introduce the Admiral Rodney Rum range, a selection of extra old Saint Lucian rum from Coffey still distillates that have been aged in American white oak Bourbon casks. HMS Royal…  More info

Admiral Rodney Rum - HMS Royal Oak
1
£58.95

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
27
£29.24

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)
7
£109.99

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)

150cl, 42.6%
Ableforth's

After the positively rousing response the Magnum bottles of Ableforth's Bathtub Gin received, they decided to put together some Magnum bottles for their ship-shape spiced rum, Rumbullion!…  More info

Rumbullion! - Magnum (1.5L)
3
£76.95

Neptune Rum Caribbean Spiced

70cl, 37.5%
Neptune Rum

By Neptune's beard - it's Neptune Rum Caribbean Spiced! Yes, we know we made that joke the last time, but we're sticking with it. Anyway, this spiced variation of Neptune Rum has been infused with…  More info

Neptune Rum Caribbean Spiced
4
£29.99

Ron Abuelo XII Two Oaks

70cl, 40%
Ron Abuelo

A richly smoky release from Ron Abuelo over in Panama, as you may have guessed Two Oaks has been matured in two different types of oak cask. Aged for over a decade, initially the rum was rested in…  More info

Ron Abuelo XII Two Oaks
6
£53.24

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23 Gift Pack with 2x Glasses

70cl, 40%
Ron Zacapa

A fantastic gift pack that should fill any rum fan with glee – this set includes a bottle of Ron Zacapa's Centenario Sistema Solera 23 rum, accompanied by a pair of charming branded glasses, so maybe…  More info

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23 Gift Pack with 2x Glasses
3
£64.95

Devon Rum Co. Honey Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Devon Rum Co.

A wonderfully well-rounded spiced rum here from the Devon Rum Co., featuring a blend of Caribbean rums, alongside local wild flower honey and a host of spices. As you might expect, the result is…  More info

Devon Rum Co. Honey Spiced Rum
1
£32.94

Angostura 15 Year Old "1787"

70cl, 40%
Angostura

Released in the latter half of 2016, Angostura's 15 Year Old "1787" rum boasts a dark hue and massive flavour profile of dried fruit, toasted oak and robust spice. Ace Trinidadian rum that's…  More info

Angostura 15 Year Old
16
£67.99
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Ron Santiago de Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo

70cl, 40%
Ron Santiago de Cuba

This is the 12 year old expression from the Ron Santiago de Cuba range of rums. The distillery produces its own molasses, using sugar cane grown in south-east Cuba, which is then distilled before the…  More info

Ron Santiago de Cuba 12 Year Old Extra Añejo
8
£48.94

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Gift Set with 1x Glass

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 Gift Set with 1x Glass
3
£49.94

Cornish Rock Golden Vanilla Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Cornish Rock

A golden vanilla rum from Cornish Rock that has been hand bottled and produced in Cornwall with Cornish spring water and made in small batches with vanilla and Cornish Gorse. Superb for sipping over…  More info

Cornish Rock Golden Vanilla Rum
1
£35.95
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El Dorado 25 Year Old 1992

70cl, 43%
El Dorado

Incredible 25 year old rum from the El Dorado range. Distilled in Guyana in 1992, this expression was allowed to mature for over quarter of a century, before being bottled up at 43% ABV. Not only is…  More info

El Dorado 25 Year Old 1992
3
£499.94
£479.99

Burning Barn Smoked Rum

70cl, 40%
Burning Barn

An intriguingly rich rum which is aptly smoky considering the name of its producers - Burning Barn. They make this expression by cold smoking their rum with local apple wood, imparting obvious…  More info

Burning Barn Smoked Rum
8
£32.99

Equiano Light Rum

70cl, 43%
The Equiano Rum Co.

As with the original Equiano Rum, Equiano Light Rum brings together spirits from Barbados and Mauritius to create a fantastic expression. This time, the rum from Barbados (produced by Foursquare) has…  More info

Equiano Light Rum
1
£32.95

Chamarel Exotic Spices

70cl, 40%
La Rhumerie de Chamarel

A spiced rum from the Mauritius-based Charamel distillery, dubbed Exotic Spices. It takes the Gold Rum, and infuses it with spices in oak casks for three months. A delectably smooth and spicy…  More info

Chamarel Exotic Spices
1
£36.95

Kirk & Sweeney Gran Reserva Superior

70cl, 40%
Kirk & Sweeney

An exquisite Dominican rum from Kirk & Sweeney, which takes its name from a Prohibition era smuggling ship, most notably known for smuggling rum! Gran Reserva Superior focuses on decadent endnotes,…  More info

Kirk & Sweeney Gran Reserva Superior
1
£59.94

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