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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 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
$23.55

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
$60.44
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North Point Spiced Rum

70cl, 43%
North Point

From all the way up in the Highlands comes North point's Spiced Rum, produced using sustainable molasses and sugar cane, featuring the addition of cacao and Seville orange. Enjoyably warming and…  More info

North Point Spiced Rum
2
$35.86

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
11
$30.67

Project #173 Christmas Pudding Rum

50cl, 42%
Project #173

The Project #173 team are getting into the spirit of Christmas with this exceptional expression – Project #173 Christmas Pudding Rum! Built around a core of delicious rum, this expression features a…  More info

Project #173 Christmas Pudding Rum
1
$20.44
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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
$33.29

Cadenhead's Classic Rum

70cl, 50%
WM Cadenhead

Though known more for their whisky bottlings (they're one of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland!), W.M. Cadenhead also bottle delicious rums, too. This is their Classic Rum, made with…  More info

Cadenhead's Classic Rum
4
$33.26

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
$33.74

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
$27.33
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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
$37.85

Captain Morgan Original Rum 1.5l

150cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

A very popular dark rum named after the 17th century Welsh sailor, Captain Henry Morgan. It is made with rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. This is the 1.5l magnum version, for all you Captains…  More info

Captain Morgan Original Rum 1.5l
1
$37.28

Relicario Ron Dominicano Peated Finish

70cl, 40%
Relicario

Here we have an aged Dominican rum from Relicario, which has seen a rather interesting finishing period - hence its name - Peated Finish. It's made up of a blend of Dominican Republic rums, and after…  More info

Relicario Ron Dominicano Peated Finish
1
$51.17

Cherry Bomb Spiced Rum

50cl, 57%
Rockstar Spirits

Another fruity delight from those folks at Rockstar Spirits, once again showing off their skills at combining rather strong rum with bold, fresh flavours! Produced with a base of Panamanian rum,…  More info

Cherry Bomb Spiced Rum
1
$32.71

Cornish Rock Coconut Paradise Cornish Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Cornish Rock

Need something to sip and enjoy while imagining you're somewhere nice and warm? The Cornish Rock team has you covered with its Coconut paradise Cornish Rum! The rum features a blend of spices,…  More info

Cornish Rock Coconut Paradise Cornish Rum
1
$35.81

Welsh Witch Spiced Rum

50cl, 40%
Welsh Witch

The folks at Welsh Witch took inspiration from their roots in North Wales when creating this spiced rum, as with plenty of dried fruit in the mix, this is sweet and spicy stuff, just like the Welsh…  More info

Welsh Witch Spiced Rum
1
$36.88

Libations Single Origin Spiced Rum

50cl, 41.5%
Libations

You may not think of Yorkshire when you think of spiced rum, but the folks at Libations are here to change that! The rum is distilled in Yorkshire and aged in English oak, with the addition of…  More info

Libations Single Origin Spiced Rum
7
$28.68

House of Elrick Dark Rum

70cl, 40%
House of Elrick

A top aged rum expression from House of Elrick up in Aberdeenshire, distilled from molasses. There's a tasty balance between lighter fruity notes and warming, okay flavours to enjoy here - should be…  More info

House of Elrick Dark Rum
1
$32.88

Fortuna Script Rum & Reason

70cl, 37.5%
Fortuna Script

The Fortuna Script was, originally, a predictive card-counting algorithm developed by an intellectual group back in the 1800s, used to bring down the casino barons at the time. Now, taking…  More info

Fortuna Script Rum & Reason
9
$35.81

Norfolk Dark Spiced Rum

70cl, 40%
The Norfolk Spirit Company

Deliciously warming spiced rum here from The Norfolk Spirit Co., featuring a base rum made in England using molasses which gets triple distilled in copper alembic stills. Expect notes of cinnamon and…  More info

Norfolk Dark Spiced Rum
1
$35.80

Bostin Drinks Co. Blackberry & Damson Rum

70cl, 40%
Bostin Drinks Co.

From Bostin Drinks Co. comes this fruity Blackberry & Damson Rum, inspired by suburban walks and the abundance of fruits available to any hardy forager! Caribbean white rum was selected for the base,…  More info

Bostin Drinks Co. Blackberry & Damson Rum
7
$31.70

Jah45 White Overproof Rum

70cl, 63%
Jah45

From Jah45 comes a punchy Overproof expression, made from a blend of column still rum from Clarendon and pot still rums from the Hampden, Monymusk and New Yarmouth distilleries. The unaged rum is…  More info

Jah45 White Overproof Rum
1
$29.21

Two Swallows Orange & Ginger Rum

50cl, 38%
Rockstar 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
$24.04

Jamaica Cove Banana Rum

70cl, 40%
Jamaica Cove

For this fruity expression, Jamaica Cove decided to infuse its blend of pot and column still rums with banana! We reckon a splash of ginger beer would do well to temper the tropical fruity sweetness…  More info

Jamaica Cove Banana Rum
2
$27.65

El Dorado Single Still - Versailles 2009

70cl, 40%
El Dorado

El Dorado rum is made with an expertly blended selection of spirits produced in different types of stills. If you fancy finding out about each of those stills and the spirits they produce, the Single…  More info

El Dorado Single Still - Versailles 2009
1
$87.31

St Nicholas Abbey 22 Year Old

70cl, 40%
St Nicholas Abbey

From St Nicholas Abbey in Barbados comes an incredibly well-matured single cask rum, which has been bottled at 22 years of age. Always a treat to see rum reach lofty ages like this, and likely to be…  More info

St Nicholas Abbey 22 Year Old
1
$768.27

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