Rum is a delicious liquor that’s made by fermenting and distilling sugar cane juice or molasses. Taking a sip of a good rum is like getting transported to a beautiful, tropical Caribbean island—where most rums are made. Rum is synonymous with palm trees, sky-blue seas, and hammocks swinging in the wind.
Rums come in various grades, including light, golden, and dark rums. Aged rums are typically the premium choices, and it’s best to sip these straight up. Don’t waste a good, expensive rum by mixing it in a cocktail!
Today’s article will pick out nine of the best rums available on the market right now. Each one comes from a different Caribbean location, so you are sure to get a wide sampling of the best that the area has to offer!
This delicious rum is distilled in Trinidad and aged for 16 years. It typically costs around $25 USD. Taking a sniff of the liquor, you’ll get the aroma of baked fruit and spiced vanilla. When you taste it, it’s going to present with flavors of caramel, spice, and toasted oak. This is a deep, bronzed amber rum with just the barest hint of smokiness. Delicious! (Check out the best rum decanter for this liquor.)
El Dorado is a mythical city of legendary wealth and beauty. It’s a perfect name for this Guyanese rum. Typically found for about $120 USD per bottle, this liquor has been aged for 21 years in oak barrels and then blended to get the perfect flavor. When you take a breath of this liquor, you’ll get impressions of chocolate, toffee, tobacco, and dark, savory spices. The rum is velvety in the mouth, and the taste is full of tropical fruits, coffee, leather, and rich toffee. It ignites like a well-crafted Scotch whisky! The El Dorado’s finish is nutty and smoky.
This delicious Nicaraguan rum is distilled at the foot of a volcano. As such, the sugar cane is grown in volcanic soil, and volcanic water is used in the manufacturing process. This means that there are unique mineral components to this liquor that you can’t find in others. At a price of $165 USD, it’s not cheap, but the taste is well worth the investment. This is a full-bodied, dark amber spirit that glows in its bottle. It’s aged 25 years. Like many other rums, it has the nose of vanilla, wood, and dark cocoa. But this one also has a little orange peel and tea leaves. On the palate, you’ll notice fruity notes, almonds, and nuts, with hints of rich tobacco and menthol. This liquor finishes with warm oak, spice, and chocolate flavors for a delicious, long finale.
Don’t let the name confuse you; this rum isn’t aged for 23 years. Instead, it is a compendium of deliciousness that blends rums aged in whiskey and sherry casks for between 6 and 23 years. It’s based on sugar cane juice as opposed to molasses. This Guatemalan rum generally runs about $50 USD per bottle. One unique aspect of the Ron Zacapa is that the brilliant master distiller behind this blend is a woman! Lorena Vasquez has a background in the pharmaceutical chemistry industry. It’s a special homage to this distillery’s history since it was also founded by a chemist. This liquor starts off with hints of caramel, vanilla, cacao, and butterscotch on the nose. These are followed by nuts, toffee, banana, and dried pineapple. Pineapple, you say? Yes, and that’s because it is fermented with a strain of yeast-derived from pineapples. The Ron Zacapa has a complex palate, with dried fruit and apricot coming forward, followed by oak, nutmeg, leather, and tobacco. This liquor finishes with the lingering flavors of honeyed butterscotch, spiced oak, and dried fruit. (Check out the best rum accessories to go with this liquor.)
This is an expensive bottle of Barbados rum, typically running around $175. Is it worth the price? Absolutely! In fact, George Washington would agree, as it was one of his favorite treats. It has been awarded by numerous other critics as well. You’ll first notice the aroma of rich vanilla, banana, oak, and mocha notes. If banana flambé is your thing, then you are going to adore this rum. When you take a sip, you’ll notice hints of raisin, spice, and toast. When the experience is over, you’ll be eager to take another sip and discover even deeper and more complex notes with every sip. (Check out this selection for the best rock glasses for serving this spirit.)
The Exposición Panamá-Pacific rum is a standard, molasses-made rum distilled in Panama. Typically found for $65, this is a great value rum that won’t break your bank but will treat you to an exceptional experience at a reasonable cost. It’s aged for three years in American Oak bourbon whiskey casks and finished for 20 years in Tennessee and Canadian rye whiskey casks. This makes it a rum that brings rich, peppery flavors. In addition to the typical nose of vanilla and sugar, you’ll also notice Irish butter, coconut, banana, and cherry-almond pastry. You’ll get more cherry-almond and cacao in the taste, along with that pepper typically found with rye. The rum finishes with flavors of wood. Dave Catania from Spirits Evangelist says of the Panama Pacific: “These rums are absurdly good.” Check out this great flask for carrying this amazing rum around in!
At $90, this rum gets the award for the longest name but not the biggest price on our list. Distilled in Barbados at the Foursquare Distillery, this rum is one of the products of master distiller and blender Richard Seale. It’s the 17th in their Exceptional Cask Selection series. It is a single-blended rum, which means that it only uses rum from a single distillery in the blend. It’s aged in bourbon barrels. It smells of cranberry, blood orange peel, hibiscus tea, caramelized pineapple, and coconut. When you taste it, you’ll get hints of tart cherry, raisins, ginger biscuits, nougat, vanilla, and raw cocoa nibs. This rum won gold at the International Wine and Spirits Competition with 95 points.
This dark gold rum is barrel-aged for a minimum of 10 years (hence the “diez”) and then filtered through charcoal. Made in Puerto Rico (not Cuba anymore, sorry!), you can typically find a bottle of this for about $40 USD. Unique to this rum is the hint of peach and almond on the nose, with pear, banana, and vanilla very present during your first sip. The liquor finishes with pineapple and cinnamon. This is a well-balanced rum—not too sweet, but with enough sugar to offset the robust oak and baking spices.
This is our Jamaican selection, and you can typically find it for about $45 USD. This is a creation of master blender Joy Spence, who blends both pot and column still rums crafted with limestone-filtered water. The estate grows its own sugarcane and makes use of naturally cultivated yeasts. This rum has a well-rounded caramel flavor with hints of clove and cinnamon.
Barbados might be the largest exporter of rums in the world, but you can find excellent sipping rums all throughout the Caribbean area. As you should since they started manufacturing it around the 1620s! Rum was much beloved by George Washington. He enjoyed rum from Mount Gay, which is purported to be the first rum distillery in the world, and still producing. If you are ready for an out-of-this-world, direct-to-the-beach experience, look no further than these nine delicious sipping rums!