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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.

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
4
$26.81
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Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l

150cl, 37.5%
Bacardi

A 1.5 litre bottling of the one of the world's best-selling spirits! Bacardi was first created in Cuba but moved to Puerto Rico rather than face nationalisation. Thanks to its stint in Cuba, the…  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca 1.5l
2
$39.67

Takamaka Grankaz

70cl, 45.1%
Takamaka Rum

Showing off both the ageing and blending skills of its team, the Takamaka Grankaz expression brings together pot distilled rum from the Seychelles matured in medium toast new French oak casks and…  More info

Takamaka Grankaz
1
$50.58
Best Seller

Matugga Golden Rum

70cl, 42%
Matugga

Matugga Golden Rum is made using sugar cane molasses produced in East Africa, using canes grown in rich, red soils. The rum is distilled in copper pot stills in the UK, and enjoys its maturation in…  More info

Matugga Golden Rum
5
$39.49

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
$47.60

Kong Rum

70cl, 40%
Kong Rum

Kong Rum is made with a base of aged Guatemalan rums from the Darsa Distillery, alongside a host of ingredients inspired by the habitat of mountain gorillas. This includes the likes of eucalyptus…  More info

Kong Rum
4
$65.79
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Bacardi 10 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Well-aged rum from Bacardi here! Matured for a decade in the Caribbean, this one was lightly charcoal filtered before bottling. The result is an easy-sipping, rather mellow rum – we're thinking about…  More info

Bacardi 10 Year Old
2
$40.13

Keynvor Spiced Honey Rum

70cl, 40%
Keynvor

A richly flavoursome honey spiced rum from Mounts Bay Distillery in Cornwall, featuring the likes of Cornish honey, saffron, seaweed, and a selection of spices, built upon a base of aged rum. Expect…  More info

Keynvor Spiced Honey Rum
10
$35.47
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Pirate's Grog 5 Year Old Spiced Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Pirate's Grog Rum Ltd

As the fourth expression in the award-winning Pirate's Grog collection, this rum is a result of adding a new dimension to their original golden rum. Built around a 5 year old dark rum, this tipple…  More info

Pirate's Grog 5 Year Old Spiced Rum
2
$29.24

Chairman's Reserve 1931

70cl, 46%
St. Lucia Distillers

Chairman's Reserve 1931 rum from St. Lucia Distillers was made as a tribute to the founder, Denis Barnard, and the year he established the distillery, 1931. The rum marries a blend of both molasses…  More info

Chairman's Reserve 1931
1
$78.05

Ron Cubay Añejo

70cl, 38%
Ron Cubay

Enjoyed in Cuba since the 1960s, the rest of the world is finally getting to taste the excellent Ron Cubay. Their Anejo rum is aged for 7 years before being bottled, allowing it to mellow out and…  More info

Ron Cubay Añejo
2
$26.80

The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. Spiced Rum

50cl, 42%
The Sweet Potato Spirit Co

A rather intriguing sip from the Sweet Potato Spirit Co. - a Spiced Rum made with a mash of sweet potato and sugar cane molasses!  More info

The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. Spiced Rum
3
$32.43

Runaway Bay

70cl, 42.5%
Runaway Bay

Here we have Runaway Bay, a rum named for a beach on the north coast of Jamaica. The pot still rum brings together rum from four distilleries on the Island, including high ester spirit from Trelawny…  More info

Runaway Bay
17
$55.50

Devon Rum Co. Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
Devon Rum Co.

Devon Rum Co.'s Spiced Rum is made with a blend of pot and column still rums from Jamaica and Guyana, which is brought down to bottling strength with spring water from the eponymous south west…  More info

Devon Rum Co. Spiced Rum
18
$33.39

Ron Cubay 10 Year Old - Reserva Especial

70cl, 40%
Ron Cubay

Wonderful Cuban rum which has enjoyed a rather lengthy maturation (for a rum). 10 years in the cask has given this beauty bags of character, flavour and an glorious mahogany hue.  More info

Ron Cubay 10 Year Old - Reserva Especial
2
$50.93

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
$33.39

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
$33.39

Bristol Spirits Collective Port of Bristol Honey Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Bristol Spirits Collective

Here we have a Honey Rum, courtesy of the folks over in the West Country at Bristol Spirits Collective! It marries the deliciousness of honey and rum, which we're big fans of. We assume the Rear…  More info

Bristol Spirits Collective Port of Bristol Honey Rum
3
$32.94

Jamaica STC^E 2020 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection - Master of Malt Exclusive

70cl, 60.6%
1423

This right here is an independent bottling of some spectacularly flavoursome Jamaican rum, bottled by 1423 in Denmark exclusively for Master of Malt! This expression has the STC^E marque, which isn't…  More info

Jamaica STC^E 2020 - 1423 Single Barrel Selection - Master of Malt Exclusive
1
$111.47

Clarkes Court Pure White

75cl, 69%
Clarke's Court

This is a white rum from Clarke's Court in Grenada who have made many multi-award winning rums.  More info

Clarkes Court Pure White
1
$43.14

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
23
$27.08
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Autentico Nativo 20 Year Old Special Reserve

70cl, 40%
Autentico Nativo

The crown jewel in Autentico Nativo’s portfolio, this is a rum to drink neat. A sublime 20-year-old Panamanian rum, produced at the Las Cabras Distillery. 20 years is the age of the youngest rum in…  More info

Autentico Nativo 20 Year Old Special Reserve
2
$59.81
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Havana Club Tributo 2019

70cl, 40%
Havana Club

It's the 2019 release of the wonderful Havana Club Tributo! This is the fourth release of the special rum, and which was launched at the 2019 Habanos Festival in Cuba. Created by three generations of…  More info

Havana Club Tributo 2019
1
$354.81

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
$440.92

Navy Island Navy Strength Rum

70cl, 57%
Navy Island

From the Navy Island Rum Company comes a blend of hand-selected Jamaican rums that were distilled entirely in traditional pot-stills before it was aged in ex-bourbon oak casks then bottled at Navy…  More info

Navy Island Navy Strength Rum
3
$42.49
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