Vintage Rum
The Noble Spirit from Sugar Cane
The precursors to rum date back to antiquity. Development of fermented drinks produced from
sugarcane juice is believed to have first occurred either in ancient India or China, and spread
from there. An example of such an early drink is brum. Produced by the Malay people, brum
dates back thousands of years. Marco Polo also recorded a 14th-century account of a "very
good wine of sugar" that was offered to him in what is modern-day Iran.

The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th
century. Plantation slaves first discovered that molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining
process, fermented into alcohol. Later, distillation of these alcoholic by-products concentrated
the alcohol and removed impurities, producing the first true rums. Tradition suggests that rum
first originated on the island of Barbados. Regardless of its initial source, early Caribbean rums
were not known for high quality. A 1651 document from Barbados stated "The chief fuddling
they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a
hot, hellish, and terrible liquor".

After rum's development in the Caribbean, the drink's popularity spread to Colonial America. To
support the demand for the drink, the first rum distillery in the colonies was set up in 1664 on
current day Staten Island. Boston had a distillery three years later. The manufacture of rum
became early Colonial New England's largest and most prosperous industry. The rum produced
there was quite popular, and was even considered the best in the world during much of the
18th century. Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American
Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 Imperial gallons
(13.5 liters) of rum each year.

To support this demand for the molasses to produce rum, along with the increasing demand for
sugar in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, a labor source to work the sugar
plantations in the Caribbean was needed. A triangular trade was established between Africa,
the Caribbean, and the colonies to help support this need. The circular exchange of slaves,
molasses, and rum was quite profitable, and the disruption to the trade caused by the Sugar Act
in 1764 may have even helped cause the American Revolution. The popularity of rum continued
after the Revolution with George Washington insisting on a barrel of Barbados rum at his 1789
inauguration. Eventually the restrictions on rum from the British islands of the Caribbean
combined with the development of American whiskey led to a decline in the drink's popularity in
the US.

Until the middle of the 19th century most rums were heavy, single-distilled spirits, considered
A remarkable cache of rare Fine Old Jamaica Rum circa 1870-1890.

Judging from the labels and bottles, these rums were bottled around 1900-1910, and
had likely 20 to 30 years in cask prior to that. It's clear from the packaging that this
was regarded as a superb quality rum even at the time it was bottled. This is an
exceptional discovery - the nose is one of the most exotic and powerful I've ever

19th century rum of this quality is extremely rare - far more so than equivalently fine
cognacs or armagnacs. At the time, top quality rums were regarded by noted
connoisseurs like George Saintsbury (in his legendary "Notes from a Cellar Book"
published in 1920) as on a par with the finest cognacs. Saintsbury writes how rare old
fashioned dark rums (like these bottles) were becoming, and how superior they were
to the paler, lighter rums then coming into vogue.

The tasting notes below are by Dave Hughes, internationally renowned author, wine
journalist and senior judge at the International Wine & Spirit Competition for over 20

Huge, room-filling scent the instant the cork was pierced.
Fabulous deep old-gold colour, like an aged muscat.

Intensely powerful nose - toffee, prunes, old marmalade, dates, overripe mango, caramel,
vanilla, allspice.

Initially sweet on the palate, oaky and woody notes with a pronounced citrus character -
tangerine and lime. Good acidity. Finish is dry, and very, very long.

An extraordinary spirit!

Fine Old Jamaican Rum 1875

With original cellar tags dated 1875.

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Rare Old Liqueur Rum "Man Friday"
Very old in cask, bottled 1940.
From the choicest Estates of Martinique.

A wonderful bottle of great character.

Rhum de Sa Majeste, circa 1890's

Three half bottles available, two with back labels as well.
Produced from lands formerly owned by Empress Josephine in
Martinique, and claimed to be the formula insisted on by
Napoleon for his troops. Imperial crown on glass shoulder seal.
extremely rare from the cellars of the famed Parisian
restaurant La Tour d'Argent.

Vieux Rhum Anglais 1830
Caves du Grand Hotel Tirollier

Believed to be the oldest dated rum bottle yet discovered.

Rhum Vieux - Paul Court
Vintage 1895
Very early vintage French rum.

A spectacularly early vintage
rum, museum quality.

Rhum Moko, circa 1920's
Early French rhum agricole, gorgeous label.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this sort of condition.

Rhum Martiniqua, circa 1920's
Early French rhum agricole, gorgeous label.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this sort of condition.

Rhum Negrita, circa 1920's.
Early French rhum agricole,
gorgeous label.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this
sort of condition.

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Rhum Saint Esprit, circa 1920's
Early French rhum agricole, gorgeous label.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this sort of condition.

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Grand Rhum Hawai, circa 1920's
Early French rhum agricole, spectacular label.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this sort of condition.

Negro Old Rhum, Martinique, circa 1920's
Early French rhum agricole, period label.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this sort of condition.

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Black Head Rum -  Cazenove, circa 1920's
Classic French rhum agricole, one of the great brands.

Beautiful bottle, very scarce in this sort of condition.

Authentic Royal Navy Rum, circa 1940's
The inimitable and legendary original: an untouched one gallon stoneware flagon dating from before 1955.
We're very pleased to have acquired a second untouched original wooden
case, containing two one-gallon stoneware flagons of authentic old Navy
Rum, formally acquired for consumption by the Royal Navy before 1955 (the
rum itself would have  originally been distilled in Jamaica in the late 1940's).
Each stoneware flagon holds a gallon of rum, and allowing for some
evaporation over the decades will yield approximately 4 litres of rum/

This is THE single most legendary rum, with a swashbuckling and romantic
history stretching back over three centuries. Very occasionally flagons
from 1970, when the Navy ration was discontinued, have come on to the
market, but to have the chance to taste original flagons from the 1940's is
unprecedented. A unique opportunity to drink liquid history.

The association of rum with the Royal Navy began in 1655 when the British
fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With the availability of domestically
produced rum, the British changed the daily ration of liquor given to seamen
from French brandy to rum. While the ration was originally given neat, or
mixed with lime juice, the practice of watering down the rum began around
1740. To help minimize the effect of the alcohol on his sailors, Admiral Edward
Vernon directed that the rum ration be watered down before being issued, a
mixture which became known as 'grog'. While it is widely believed that the
term grog was coined at this time in honor of the cloak Admiral Vernon wore in rough weather, the term has been
demonstrated to predate his famous orders, with probable origins in the West Indies, perhaps of African etymology. The
Royal Navy continued to give its sailors a daily rum ration, known as a "tot," until the practice was abolished after July 31,
1970. Today the rum ration is still issued on special occasions by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. Recently, such occasions have
been Royal marriages and birthdays, or other special anniversaries. "Splice the main brace", in the days of the daily ration,
meant double rations that day.

A standard naval tot of rum consisted of an eighth of a pint of rum (which was over 50% ABV, and was traditionally named
"overproof"). Generally spirits are about 40% in comparison.

Labelling spirits today as overproof or underproof is derived from the early method of treating Jamaica rum in the naval
victualling yards before it was issued to the warships. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, it was “proofed”
by dousing gunpowder in it, then tested to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not, then the rum contained too much
water and was considered to be “under proof”. It was found that gunpowder would not burn in rum that contained less than
57.15% abv. Therefore, rum that contained this percentage of alcohol was defined to have "100 degrees proof" (this differs
from the simpler US system, where you simply double the alcoholic abv to get the proof percentage)

Once a rating reached the age of twenty he was entitled to draw his tot. Senior Rates were entitled to drink this neat,
however Junior Rates had "2 in 1" which meant that it was mixed with two parts water to one part rum. The reason for this
was so that the rum could not be stored and saved for another day.

A story involving naval rum is that following his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson's body was preserved in a
cask of rum to allow transport back to England. Upon arrival, however, the cask was opened and found to be empty of rum.
The pickled body was removed and, upon inspection, it was discovered that the sailors had drilled a hole in the bottom of the
cask and drunk all the rum, in the process drinking Nelson's blood. Thus, this tale serves as a basis for the term Nelson's
Blood being used to describe rum. It also serves as the basis for the term "Tapping the Admiral" being used to describe
drinking the daily rum ration. The details of the story are disputed, as many historians claim the cask contained French
brandy whilst others claim instead the term originated from a toast to Admiral Nelson. Variations of the story, involving
different notable corpses, have been in circulation for many years.

Rhum Louisiane (1865)
Very early vintage French rum.

Another wonderful vintage rum, superb

Rhum Saint James 1930's

With vanilla pods in the bottle.  

Rhum Chauvet 1930's

Classic rhum agricole.

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Finest and Rarest Vintage Spirits and Legendary Wines
less elegant than the refined double-distilled spirits of Europe. In order to expand the market for rum, the Spanish Royal
Development Board offered a prize to anyone who could improve the rum making process. This resulted in many refinements
in the process which greatly improved the quality of rum. One of the most important figures in this development process was
Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, who moved from Spain to Santiago de Cuba in 1843. Don Facundo's experiments with
distillation techniques, charcoal filtering, cultivating of specialized yeast strains, and aging with American oak casks helped to
produce a smoother and mellower drink typical of modern rums. It was with this new rum that Don Facundo founded Bacardi
y Compañia in 1862, and the great rums of the 19th and early 20th centuries date from this time. The best are quite superb,
and although rare (much more so than cognacs of equivalent vintage), worth seeking out - on the nose intense and complex,
on the palate simultaneously both mellow and fiery, with an exotic melange of tropical and wood ageing flavours.
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