The Geography of Rum

Or; Exploring Rum – X Marks the Tot

Given its hugely diverse nature – in terms of flavour, geography and production methods – rum has, over the years, proven notoriously difficult to classify, regulate and, most fundamentally, understand .

One of the ways in which we at The Whisky Exchange are trying to tackle these issues is with our brand-new rum classification , which aims to categorise different types of rum primarily by production method – much like has been done with Scotch whisky, e.g. single malt, single grain, blended, etc. – and secondarily by flavour, doing away as much...

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Foursquare Hereditas Rum – exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

It’s the summer of rum here at The Whisky Exchange. Our new rum classification is up and we’ve had a rum takeover on our website – there’s never been a better time to learn about and try new rums. However, there’s something missing: a special rum of our own to celebrate. No longer: introducing Foursquare Hereditas , exclusively bottled for The Whisky Exchange.


We’re big fans of Barbados’s Foursquare distillery. Distiller Richard Seale is a rum wizard and we’ve had his rums at The Whisky Exchange for as long as we’ve been able to get them in the UK....

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The Whisky Exchange Rum Classification

In the drinks world, there’s nothing quite so varied and versatile as rum. Drunk on its own, in punches, with Coke and ginger, or mixed up in cocktails from Daiquiris to Piña Coladas, the range of flavours and what you can do with it is massive. But there’s a big problem that’s been looming under the surface of the rum world for years, and it’s started to rear its ugly head as rum has begun to boom in popularity and drinkers have started looking at it more closely – how do you classify and describe rum?

A rainbow of colours...

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What kind of rum are you?


Historically, rum has been defined by its colour – white, golden and dark. Colour can be misleading though, and offers no real indication of character or flavour.

With the increase in popularity of rum and the sheer variety now on offer, we decided to totally reclassify rum so that discerning drinkers can know what they’re getting and where it comes from.

You can read about our new rum classifications  here , or – way more fun – you can take our excellent and educational quiz, below.


You’re out for brunch with some friends, and...

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Cognac vs Whisky – an eaux-de-ssey

Two of the world’s most historic and heritage-rich spirits, Scotch single Maltwhisky and Cognac , have evolved in distinct – and wildly different – directions. Equally, both have experienced oscillating levels of status and popularity across a number of centuries, starting out as an accessible product, becoming ‘premium’, and back again, and back again, et cetera.

In recent times though – it seems to me, at least – these two prodigious spirits have somewhat settled into their roles. Cognac has established itself, for the most part, as a high-end luxury, transcending even that accolade in places and developing a...

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WhistlePig 100% Amburana – exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

It’s not every day I try a whiskey that stops me dead in my tracks. It happens even less often to our head buyer Dawn Davies. She’s dedicated her life to tasting interesting things, and when she tells you that you need to try something, you listen to what she says. The most recent thing that it happened with? WhistlePig Amburana .

What is amburana?

When it comes to types of wood used to make whisk(e)y, it pretty much starts and stops with oak. You get the occasional chestnut cask, or tales of weird and wonderful things hiding in warehouses...

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Cognac Cocktails

The reigning King of Cocktails, Cognac made its mark in classics such as the Sidecar and French 75, but there are many more to try. For years bartenders across the world have been putting their own spin on the classics and creating their own versions that explore and play with the world of Cognac.

With the Cognac Show 2019 just a week away, we’ve had a rifle around to find Cognac cocktails, old and new, that we think are worth trying.


Between the Sheets

This cheekily-named cocktail has a slightly murky history, with different versions of its origin floating around...

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The Balblair Collection – the new range

Things have been changing at Inver House Distillers over the past few years. It’s the owner of a few of our favourite distilleries – including Old Pulteney , Knockdhu (makers of AnCnoc ), Speyburn and Balblair – and has been shaking up their ranges. The Speyburn 15 Year Old arrived back in 2017, last year saw a revamp of the Old Pulteney range and last week we learned about their latest new whiskies – The Balblair Collection .

Vintages no more

For the past 12 years Balblair has been bottling its whiskies with vintages rather than age statements. The range...

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Whisky Works – Glaswegian and King of Trees

It’s been a busy few years for Whyte & Mackay’s Gregg Glass. He arrived at the company in 2016 from Compass Box, where he’d spent more than a decade creating boutique blended whiskies. Hailed as famed blender Richard Paterson’s successor, he’s spent the past couple of years running around Scotland learning all about the distilleries now in his care. But somehow, in among everything else, he’s found time to kick start his own pet project – Whisky Works .

What is Whisky Works?

It’s being billed as more than just another brand in the’Whyte & Mackay stable, and is a...

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Greener alternatives to peated whisky

Most of us love peaty whisky, but few of us pause to consider its impact on the environment. The creation of smoky whiskies relies on the burning of vast quantities of peat to dry barley, something which, as countless scientific studies have shown, releases a large volume of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – a key driver in climate change.

Peat is created by the anoxic decay of plants, meaning that the carbon dioxide which would have normally been released during decomposition is trapped as carbon in the oxygen-free bog. When these ‘carbon sinks’ are mined for fuel, the trapped...

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The World Whiskies Awards 2019 – the winners


The 2019 whisky season has officially started: Whisky Live London kicks off today and last night saw the announcement of the winners of the World Whiskies Awards 2019. While we’ve known who won medals for a couple of months, last night’s dinner and ceremony was all about calling out the best of the best – the whiskies that were top in their countries and categories.

The World’s Best Single Malt

The top of the World Whiskies Awards tree is World’s Best Single Malt. Unlike some whisky awards, the WWAs have been embracing the first W of their name since almost...

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Gin: How to drink it

With the rise of gin has come something a little less expected: a whole host of new ways to drink it. Well, I say new, but folks were drinking gin well before tonic water was invented as a stealth way of getting anti-malarial quinine into pith-helmet wearing ex-pats in the early 1800s. While the G&T has become the canonical method of drinking gin, there’s a lot more to explore.

Want to know more? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Gin >

Gin and Soda

My biggest recent gin revelation is gin and soda. Soda water is a much underrated mixer...

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Red Spot – top of the spots

Ireland’s whiskey history is one of the cornerstones of the world’s whisky story. Along with the USA and Scotland, the country’s traditions have informed whisky making around the globe. Success goes in waves, and Ireland is very much on the rise at the moment. While it’s Jameson and other blended whiskeys that are leading the charge, following in their wake is the most uniquely Irish style of whiskey there is: pot still. There’s only a handful of pot still drams out there, with Green Spot and Yellow Spot two of the best known. But now there is a new dram...

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We need to stop gender stereotyping drinks

The history of drinks is the history of humanity. As our ancestors were making the arduous climb out of the primordial swamp, there was probably some spark of thought, deep within their nascent souls, that they could really, really use a pint right now.

It’s so much the history of humanity, in fact, that there is actually a scientific theory called ‘the drunken monkey’ hypothesis. You can Läs mer about it in this excellent National Geographic article but, in a nutshell it’s that, around 200,000 years ago, primates developed a taste for the rotting, fermenting fruit lying beneath the trees....

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A History of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day – a day to celebrate the amazing women who do so much for us throughout our lives. Mum, Mummy, Ma, Mama, whatever we call her, she’s such a big part of our lives that she deserves recognition, even if it is just one day a year. But when did this tradition start?

Origins Of mother’s day

People have been celebrating mothers and motherhood since Ancient Greek and Roman times, except back then there were festivals in honour of the Mother Goddesses Rhea and Cybele – think dancing in the streets and sacrifices to the Goddesses.

What is Mothering...

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Nine Irish distillers you should know

The past few years have seen lots of new Irish whiskies hit the market. Thanks to the increase in popularity and the success of the new releases, there are now as many as 50 distilleries in various stages of planning, building and production across Ireland.

While the future is looking very bright, the present is still pretty impressive. Here are some of our favourite Irish whiskey distillers, old and new, who are already up and running.


The longest running distillery in Ireland, with a claim of being founded in 1608. It’s a tenuous one, with a license being issued...

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What is Irish Whiskey?

Over the past decade, Irish whiskey has become huge. A drink with a long history, its popularity declined through the 20th century but it is now having a renaissance. Not only can you find it in bars and shops all over the world, but there are also new distilleries popping up all over Ireland. But what is it, where did it come from and how is it different to other types of whisk(e)y?

A brief history of Irish Whiskey

An excellent way to annoy a room full of Irish whiskey fans is to simply say ‘Didn’t the Scottish bring whisky...

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What is St Patrick’s Day?

St Patrick’s Day approaches – 17 mars. It’s a day of celebration, but what is it actually celebrating? We’ve written about St Patrick’s Day for years here on The Whisky Exchange Blog, with tales of whiskey , Irish cream , poteen and more , but never really looked into who Patrick himself was, and why we celebrate his life. Time for a history lesson.

Who was St Patrick?

To start, Patrick (or Patricius as he referred to himself in his writing) was born in Great Britain rather than Ireland. Various places in England, Scotland and Wales have taken credit for...

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Rosebank – a short history

The closing of Rosebank has increasingly been recognised as one of the biggest losses in Scotland’s whisky history. However, thanks to the current huge growth in Scotch whisky, a new chapter for the cult, closed distillery is opening.

The Lowlands

The Lowlands are a strange region when it comes to Scotch whisky. For years they have been sparsely populated, but in the boom times of the Victorian era they were an ideal location for for legal distillers – good transport links to Glasgow and Edinburgh, allowing grain to come in and whisky go out with ease, but with fewer glens...

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Ardbeg 25 Director’s Special – Whisky Show: Old Rare bottling

This weekend sees the return of Whisky Show: Old & Rare to the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. As usual, there’ll be stacks of excellent whiskies to try, from interesting old blends to ancient American whiskies and some of the finest single malts ever bottled.


See the 2019 dram list >

The latest addition to the ranks – which already includes a 1930s bottling of non-peaty Laphroaig, Black Bowmore, our 10th-anniversary 1967-vintage Karuizawa (it’s our 20th birthday this year…), and an Old Orkney from Stromness bottled around 1910 – is the show bottling: The Whisky Show:Old & Rare 2019  Ardbeg...

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