RUM is one of my very favourite drinks. I’m certainly not averse to a cocktail or two, but I prefer to sip my rum straight from a large, ice filled tumbler. It is made the world over, but its spiritual home is very much the islands of the Caribbean where it is made from either molasses or sugarcane juice.

Distillation can be in a pot still (for richer, fuller flavours) or a column still (resulting in smoother, lighter styles), or a combination of the two. Following the distillation, the spirit spends some time in oak barrels. Due to the temperature and the humidity, the maturation is much more rapid than in the Scottish whisky industry. (Having as we do, slightly lower temperatures than you tend to find in the Caribbean). So, a 10-year-old rum matured in Barbados could have a similar level of maturity to a 25-year-old single malt from Scotland.

Rum has had strong links with the Royal Navy since 1655 when the British fleet took the island of Jamaica. Until then, the sailors had received a daily ration of French brandy. With sudden access to so much rum, it was decided to swap allegiances and the sailors were given half a pint of rum per day. This daily ration was known as a ‘tot’ and the practice continued until 31st July 1970 (Black Tot Day) when somebody high up thought it might be an idea to have more sober sailors in charge of their increasingly expensive vessels.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva 40% (Waitrose, £42.50).

This is a beautiful dark golden rum made in Venezuela from molasses in a copper pot still, and it has been matured for up to 12 years. It’s wonderfully rich and fruity with notes of spice, fruitcake, orange oil and toffee.

Hoxton Banana Rum 40% (Inverarity One to One, £33.99 50cl).

I love this one…it’s a blend of rums from Barbados, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic and it has been carefully crafted by Gerry Calabrese. Dried and fresh bananas are macerated in the liquid for five weeks but the banana flavour doesn’t completely take over in the glass. The balance is wonderful. The only disappointment is the size of the bottle.

Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy 40% (Inverarity One to One, £34.99).

Another fruit bomb, this time made by cellar master Alexandre Gabriel. It was never really intended to be launched commercially with Alexandre making only two barrels initially. It was so well received, he realised it had to become part of their portfolio. The pineapple rinds are added to the white rum for a week, while the fruit spends three months in the dark rum. The two components are then blended and aged in cask for three months before release. The unusual name is a nod to a character, Reverend Stiggins from the Pickwick Papers who had a particular penchant for pineapple rum. Cheers!