National Rum Day falls on August 16 this year, and it's the perfect excuse to indulge in a piña colada or to shake things up with a mojito.
The spirit, which is made from sugar cane juice or produced as a byproduct of molasses, is enjoying a surge in popularity globally, but especially in the UK, where it has been dubbed "the new whisky."
While often associated with the Caribbean and its pirates (Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow springs to mind), rum actually originated in Papua New Guinea, making its way to the Caribbean later.
Interestingly, rum production is on the up in Asia again. Nine Leaves is a Japanese rum made in old wine barrels, while rums from countries such as Phuket and Fiji are doing well at international spirit fairs and are poised to hit the UK market.
But for Ian Burrell, founder of RumFest and global ambassador of rum, many of today's finest rums are from the Caribbean. He recommends that you try each one on its own, before putting it in the hands of an expert bartender to make your favourite cocktail.
"I always say your first experience of a rum should be neat," he recommends. "Then you can really taste it, and appreciate the flavour."
While he prefers to enjoy his in tropical climes, ideally "on a beach in Barbados", he says it's important to celebrate rum here too. "At one time, the rum made in the colonies was the most popular spirit in Britain," he explains. "It's an important part of our history, so there's nothing wrong with drinking it in the UK on National Rum Day."
1) Admiral Rodney (St Lucia)
Admiral Rodney is distilled from molasses in column stills, and is aged an average of 12 years before bottling. The name commemorates a famous 18th-century admiral who conquered the French in 1782.
2) Appleton Estate Joy (Jamaica)
Opening with an orange peel top note and closing with a warm brown sugar finish, the drink envelops the mouth with warm vanilla and oak notes. It’s a robust spirit which could easily be mistaken for a bourbon or cognac were it not for the traces of coffee and cocoa that linger on the palate.
3) Saint James Cuvee 1765 (Martinique)
The special Saint James Cuvée 1765 is a blend created in homage to the original 1765 style by one of the oldest rum brands in the world.
4) Don Q Signature Release 2005 (Puerto Rico)
This is an unusual single-cask rum from Puerto Rican rum brand Don Q, distilled in 2005 and aged in American white oak. Don Q recommend trying this in place of whisky in cocktails.
5) Foursquare Zinfandel Cask Blend (Barbados)
A limited release Bajan rum produced at one of Barbados’ oldest rum companies, this blend is made from locally owned and sourced sugar cane, converted to molasses and fermented very slowly over 44 hours with South African yeast.