No Matter How You Like Your Rum These Quality Tipples Won’t Do You Wrong
Looking for the best rum to sip neat or enjoy in a cocktail? Then you’ve come to the right place because we’ve searched high and low to find some of the most delicious and unique tasting rums available right now.
What was once seen as the unrefined tipple of salty sailors is now one of the UK’s most-loved spirits. Whether you take it neat, on the rocks or mixed in a cocktail, there are plenty of sexy, swashbuckling rums to pick from ranging from light and crisp white rums right through to rich, dark and spicy numbers.
But where to start? Our roundup comes with a bounty of aromas and flavours to get your pirate-like paws on and many are more affordable than you might think.
Berry Bros & Rudd Nicaragua Rum
This is a rum that is diverse. We tried it both straight and in a cocktail and were impressed with the taste. It’s on the sweeter end of the rum spectrum, with chocolate and syrup notes but there’s a slight smokiness to it, too. If you are drinking it neat, then we are pleased to report that there is very little burn with each sip. While we taste tested the Nicaragua rum, Berry Bros. & Rudd also have Barbados, Jamaican and Guatemala varieties – all of which, we’re sure, are worth checking out.
East London Liquor Company
You might know East London Liquor for its gin but this rum is definitely worth a go, partly because its so affordable despite the quality on offer.
It is made in Guyana by Demerara Distillers with the last remaining wooden Coffey still in the world, and aged for three years in ex-bourbon casks. The sugar really comes through here along with big fruity notes.
If you dont like the idea of using white rum in cocktails then look to OVD and this extremely dark and rich demerara rum.
It really is like drinking alcoholic brown sugar in liquid form and works great in any situation – neat, with any mixer, particularly ginger beer – and in all rum based cocktails to create dark versions. Oh and its really affordable, too.
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Cruzan Light Aged Rum
Country of origin: Saint Croix.Style: Light, aged.Aroma/Flavor: Mild hints of molasses and a bit of oak from the used bourbon barrels in which it ages.Overview: Cruzan has a few bottlings under the $20 mark: the light, a blackstrap, and a couple of flavored rums. I’ve tried the light and the blackstrap of the two, I prefer the light. Blackstrap is a bit of an acquired taste, and I’ve yet to fully acquire it. Blackstrap comes on strong with heady aromas of molasses and coffee, and the molasses notes follow through into the flavors of the rum. I find it a little intense. Cruzan Light, on the other hand, is a smooth, round rum, though it’s not a satisfying sipper. If you want an affordable rum for a party, you won’t go wrong with this one.Use: Pairs well with fruit juices and is fine in cocktails.
Best For Mai Tai: Hamilton Overproof Rum 151
Courtesy of Drizly.com
- ABV: 75.5%
- Tasting Notes: Stone Fruit, Baking Spice, Banana
This is a rum for the banana bread lover, says Jess Weinstein, beverage director for Maydan and Compass Rose. Roasty, vanilla, caramel, and rotten banana forever. This blend of rums from Demerara Distillers is aged for up to five years, and bottled at a very high 151 proof, really letting the flavors explode and providing a buzzy boost to a Mai Tai or any tropical cocktail.
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Buy The Best Rum Brands Online In Australia
Jamaica, Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala. What do all these tropical locales have in common? Rum, of course. The best rum calls to mind mojitos, sunny days and beach umbrellas. With roots in sugar cultivation, rum can be light or dark, spicy or sweet and derived from molasses or honey.
The best rum brands can all be found at GoodDrop – the best online supplier of rum from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum
A faithful replication of one of this revered distillerys greatest hits. Goslings Family Reserve seeks to honour the ‘old rum’ that kept the Bermudan population buzzing after World War I. Bitter cocoa and black pepper play against bright orange and orchard fruits in this vibrant, complex classic. Read our full Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum review.
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Appleton Estate 21 Year
Liquor.com / Tim Nusog
Joy Spence is the first female master blender in the rum industry and something of a legend. At Jamaicas Appleton Estate, she helps oversee the distillerys cane-to-cup method, where the sugar cane is grown on the same property in which the rum is distilled and aged. Appleton stocks several outstanding aged products, but the 21-year-old shines brightesta funky but complex spirit that could excite the geekiest of whiskey nerds.
Venezuelas Diplomático rum distillery has a wide range of expressions. But Ambassador, part of the distillerys Prestige Range, may be one of its best, a fantastic sipping rum with prominent notes of raisin, chocolate and baking spice. Ambassador is a blend of 100% pot-still rums aged in American oak for at least 12 years, followed by two years in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, a one-two punch that diversifies and amplifies the flavor.
Best For Dark N Stormy: Goslings Black Seal
Region: Bermuda | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Spice, Vanilla, Butterscotch
Technically, the Dark ‘n Stormy should only be made with Goslings, given this Bermuda-based brand owns the trademark of the drinks name. Though you can make it with any rum you like, it tastes especially good with this dark rum.
With its big body and long-lasting taste of butterscotch, caramel and molasses, this rum is a must for making classic cocktails, says Paul Gonzalez of The Allegory Bar at Eaton DC. Goslings sources a secret blend of rum from various Caribbean countries, which it blends and ages in Bermuda. Every cocktail bar should have a bottle of Goslings behind it, he adds.
Region: Barbados | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Oak, Orange
The Real McCoy sources its rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados, firmly believing in making rum without additives or coloring. This dark rum was aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels, giving it layers of brown sugar, vanilla, black cherry and even some mild smoky notes. These guys are making truly great unadulterated juice, says McCoy. Get your hands on any of their expressions, from the white three-year-old and up.
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El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve Rum: Best Luxury Sipping Rum
Price: £53 |
This vibrant, full-bodied and complex flavoured sipping rum, from the banks of the Demerara river in Guyana, is something special. El Dorado widely acknowledged as one of the best rum producers in the world uses an ancient wooden still to produce this beauty, which boasts aromas of syrup, candied peel and cinnamon, with a taste that incorporates everything from dried fruits to honey and from gingerbread to oak, with a long lingering finish.
Its exceptionally smooth and well-balanced and a real showcase for the delectable, complex drink that rum can be. No wonder it collected the Wray & Nephew Trophy for Best Rum in the World at the International Wine & Spirits Challenge for an unbeaten four years running.
Key specs Alcohol content: 43% Bottle size: 70cl Country of origin: Guyana
Best Overall: Mount Gay Xo
Region: Barbados | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Fig, Brown Sugar, Dark Chocolate
Mount Gay is made in Barbados, a country with a long history of producing excellent rum. The XO expression is one of the best bottles you can find, a deeply complex spirit that wont break the bank. Its distilled in column and pot stills, and aged for between five and 17 years in three different cask types – bourbon, American whiskey, and cognac. This is a great sipping rum that can be enjoyed neat or over a large ice cube.
“Mount Gay has been making rum since the 1700s but Trudiann Branker has been making her mark as master blender these last few years. The XO now has a blend of cognac barrel-aged rum added to mix and it’s even better than beforecomplex, rich, with candied fruit, and heady spices. This is a perfect sipping rum.” Prairie Rose, Editor
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Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23
A multi-award winning, complex beast and a rum which has arguably helped to spearhead the premium sipping rum category. Ron Zacapa brings together a blend of different rums aged between six and 23 years old, giving a dry spice note alongside a decidedly mature oaky flavour. A rum that deserves plenty of your time to fully explore.
Plantation Stiggins Fancy Pineapple Rum
A revelation in the world of flavoured rums, this Caribbean rum was originally created by the Plantation cellar master as a highly limited edition treat for thirsty bartenders out in New Orleans, where it became an overnight sensation. Fortunately, this wonderfully sweet, aromatic pineapple-infused spirit is now available for the rest of us to enjoy and is perfect sipped over ice.
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Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva
Venezuelan brand Diplomaticos Reserva Exclusiva is arguably its best. Its extremely versatile that lends to sipping, as well as a straightforward rum flavor that can be used to make some killer cocktails. The base ingredients are molasses and sugarcane honey. After distillation in copper pot stills and 12 years of aging, the Reserva Exclusiva becomes something that will impress connoisseurs and shut down any rum skeptic.
What Is Dark Rum
A dark rum is one that has been barrel-aged, typically for a longer period than its golden and white counterparts.
Weve been taking a long look at dark rum, a spirit category fast catching up with whisky in terms of prestige. While many uninitiated drinkers may see rum as nothing more than a cocktail base, there is a whole world out there of complex spirits just waiting to be sipped and savoured.
Made using sugarcane molasses, rum is one of the oldest spirits in the world. It has an uncomfortable history fraught with slavery and conquest, but rums present and future is full of vibrancy and life.
There’s a rum out there for everybody, from the hearty navy strength to the light and dry Cuban tipples. Here, we present the best dark rums on the market and have picked a bottle for every taste and budget. Get your ice ready, your feet up and your cigars clipped…
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Dark Matter Spiced Rum
When you think of rum, it is usually palm trees and beaches that spring to mind, not the wilds of the Scottish highlands. Dark Matter, however, is produced at one of Scotland’s rare rum distilleries, making a spiced version of the sweet spirit which is full-bodied with notes of clove. Try it in a hot chocolate.
Best For Mojitos: Havana Club Aejo Blanco Puerto Rican Rum
Courtesy of Havana Club
Josue Gonzalez, the beverage director of Seven Reasons in Washington D.C. says the real Havana Club is his favorite budget rum. Im not talking about the one that is currently made in Cuba Im talking about the one Bacardi makes and distributes here in America.
Gonzalez dives into the colorful story of the bottle: Many moons ago the Echeveria family sold the original recipe to Bacardi when they fled Cuba due to the tyranny that was the Cuban government. Bacardi held the recipe in its vault for many years while the Cuban Government seized the Arechabala familys assets, including the Havana Club distillery in Cuba. They began producing a rum there and distributed all over the world as Havana Club. Since the Cuban Havana Club is not permitted in the U.S. due to the embargo with Cuba, Bacardi decided to revive the brand using the original recipe that was given to them by the family who founded it. I highly recommend this for any rum lover.
The light Cuban rum is made from several different aged rums, blended together and aged in the Caribbean for a year in oak. Try it in the quintessential Cuban cocktail: the mojito.
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El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum
White rum is always good to have on hand, and El Dorado 3 Year Old is shaping up to be one of our favourites – especially at such a good price! Its another Demerara rum, meaning its been made using the traditional method. If youre looking for something crisp and fresh while still maintaining those characteristic brown sugar notes, look to El Dorado 3 Year Old. Its great in a rum-based Pornstar Martini!
ABV: 40%Size: UK 700ml // US 750mlFind it here: UK £22.90 // US $24.99
How To Choose The Best Rum For You
How is rum made?
Rum is loosely defined as any spirit made from sugar either cane juice or molasses . In practice, the vast majority is made from molasses, with golden and darker rums aged in oak to develop their unique characteristics. Most rum production happens in the Caribbean and Latin America, but its made right across the world in Scotland, Thailand, USA, New Zealand, India and Mauritius, just to name a few.
Does all rum have a similar taste?
Just as with whisky, the flavour can vary considerably, based on a wide range of factors from the raw ingredients used to local methods of production and ageing. In Jamaica, for instance, pot stills typically produce golden and darker rums, while in Cuba columns are usually used to create a lighter spirit.
How much can I spend on a bottle of rum?
Theres a huge range of prices too, from affordable bottles costing under 20 quid right up to exclusive rums that cost hundreds of pounds.
What types of rum are there?
For cocktails, Bacardi-style white rum is a favourite. Its generally light and crisp, although it can be more pungent. Its typically un-aged, but it can be matured and then charcoal filtered to remove the colour.
At the other end of the scale, dark rum is aged in oak, for big bold flavours and spicy notes. If its not left in for so long, it may be sold as golden rum a slightly lighter recipe, but still with intense flavours.
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Best South American: Flor De Caa 4
Courtesy of Caskers
Region: Nicaragua | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, White chocolate, Orange
Nicaraguan distillery Flor de Caña makes rum near the base of a volcano using sustainable methods. There are a variety of aged rums in the lineup, including this white ruma blend aged for an average of four years that is filtered to remove color. No sugar is added, earning the rum the seco, or dry, designation.
Theres a bit of natural sweetness at play here, along with some notes of vanilla and citrus.
Best Rum Aged Less Than Five Years: Brugal Aejo Superior
Brugal AÃ±ejo Superior
Region: Dominican Republic | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Oak, Brown Sugar
This Dominican Republican rum is aged between two and five years in American oak before bottling, picking up notes of vanilla, spice, and wood along the way. Its not the oldest rum out there, but it certainly sips like something way beyond its years. It also works great as a substitute for whiskey in a cocktail like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
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The 30 Best Rum Brands
Despite its eternal status as the next big thing in drinks, rum sales still lag behind multiple other spirits in the U.S., including whiskey, vodka, tequila, and Cognac. Still, there are signs that perceptions of rum are definitively shifting.
Of the almost $2.5 billion U.S. drinkers spent on rum last year, $229 million went toward super-premium bottles, the most expensive price segment. Though still a fraction of total sales, this figure is more than 10 times greater than the amount spent on top-shelf rum 15 years ago proving that folks arent only reaching for rum to mix Mojitos and Piña Coladas.
Impressive though that growth is, numbers and spreadsheets do little to capture the depth of the category. With bottles produced in multiple continents from two starkly different base ingredients molasses and fresh cane juice the main consideration when buying rum is not how much to spend but how youre looking to enjoy the spirit. The categorys vast range of styles and ever-improving quality ensure that, whether its cocktail hour or time for a nightcap, theres a bottle for every occasion and price point.
This list captures every aspect of that impressive landscape, from single varietal agricole to transcontinentally aged and blended bottlings. Here are 30 of the best rums to buy right now.