The Most Delicious, Top-Shelf Rum

Premium rum is delicious! If you’re lucky, you’ve been adventurous in a cocktail bar or have gone on a vacation to a tropical island. Otherwise, it’s possible that you’ve never really experienced top-shelf rum. When you’ve had “the good stuff,” you realize it doesn’t taste anything like the cheap rum commonly used for mixed drinks.

Premium rum is identified by the quality of its ingredients, the distilling process, the barrels used for aging, and the length of the aging. Playful combinations of these factors can create some really distinguished rums. They’re smooth, delicious, and even spicy!

What countries make the best rum?

Because rum is made primarily from sugar or molasses, it tends to be island nations or countries with hot climates where rum is produced. Some of the leaders in the industry are:


Distilleries found in Barbados:

  • Mount Gay Rum Distillery (owned by Remy Cointreau)
  • West Indies Rum Distillery, Ltd. (Malibu is one of their labels)
  • Foursquare Rum Distillery
  • St. Nicholas Abbey

Rums to try from Barbados: The Real McCoy 12 Year, Foursquare Rum Distillery Isonomy, Cockspur Old Gold Reserve Rum, and Mount Gay XO.


Distilleries found in Cuba:

  • Ron Cubay
  • Havana Club
  • Conde de Cuba
  • Ron Vigia
  • Ron Caney
  • Ron Arecha
  • Ron Edmundo Dantes
  • Ron Legendario
  • Ron Mulata
  • Ron Santiago de Cuba
  • Ron Varadero

Cuban rums to try: The Havana Club Maximo Extra Añejo, Santiago de Cuba Extra Añejo, Ron Mulata Grand Reserva 15 Años


Distilleries found in Haiti:

  • Boukman Botanicals
  • Moscoso Distillers
  • Rhum Barbancourt
  • Rhum Vieux Labbé
  • Rhum 1716

Best Haitian rums to try: Rhum Barbancourt 15 years, Boukman Botanical Rhum, Vieux Labbé 10 years.


Distilleries found in Jamaica:

  • Appleton Estate
  • Hampden Estate (including the Smith and Cross label)
  • M. Wray and Nephew
  • Myers’s
  • National Rums of Jamaica
  • Old Pascas
  • Rum-bar Rum
  • The Rum Company
  • Smith & Cross
  • Worthy Park Estate

Best Jamaican rums to try: Appleton Estate 21 year, Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum


Distilleries found on Martinique:

  • Habitation Saint-Etienne
  • J. Bally
  • La Mauny
  • Neisson
  • Rhum Clément
  • Rhum Dillon
  • Saint James
  • Trois Rivières

Best rums to try from Martinique: Rhum Clément Cuvée Homère, Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc, Trois Riviéres Cuvée de l’Ocean.


Distilleries found in the Philippines:

  • Bleeding Heart Rum Company (makes Don Papa Rum)
  • The Craft Brewing and Distilling Company
  • Tanduay

Best rums to try from the Philippines:  Palawan Blanco, Don Papa, Crow’s Nest Agrikultura

Puerto Rico

Distilleries found in Puerto Rico:

  • Bacardi
  • Club Caribe Distillers
  • Don Q
  • Ron del Barrilito
  • Ron Llave
  • Serralés Distillery

Best rums to try from Puerto Rico: Ron del Barrillito 3 Stars, Bacardi Havana Club, Don Q Reserva 7

Best Overall Sipping Rum

Ron Diplomatico Rum

Our overall favorite sipping rum is the Ron Diplomatico Rum, Riserva Exclusiva. Crafted by Maestros Roneros in Venezuela, this rum is delicious for sipping. This award-winning rum opens with aromas of orange peel, toffee, and licorice. It’s smooth on the palate and follows with a long-lasting finish of toffee fudge. The cost is about $40.

Best Dark Rum

Dark rums are known for their dark color (duh, right?), and the dark color usually comes from caramelized sugar or molasses. They are also typically aged longer in the cask, including heavily charred barrels. This gives the spirit strong, heavy flavors. Most dark rums come from Jamaica, the Bahamas, Haiti, and Martinique.

Best Dark Rum

Here are some of our favorite top-shelf dark rums:

Best Light Rum

Light rums, also known as “silver” or “white” rums, in general, have little flavor except for some sweetness. They are also filtered after aging to remove any color. Most light rums come from Puerto Rico. Their mild flavors make them ideal for mixed drinks, but some can be delicious sipping spirits.

Best Light Rum

Here are some of our favorite top-shelf light rums:

Best Spiced Rum

Spiced rums are so called because they have spices added to the recipe. Popular spices are cinnamon, rosemary, absinthe/aniseed, pepper, cloves, and/or cardamom. Added flavors also include added caramel flavors. Spiced rums are often darker in color than light rums.

Best Spiced Rum

Our favorite spiced rums include:

There’s a rum for everyone!

Rum is a delicious addition to any spirits cabinet. Although rum is most commonly an ingredient in a mixed drink, a top-shelf, premium rum can be a fantastic sipping liquor. Some dark rums and spicy rums can be excellent alternatives to whiskey or cognac. We highly recommend the Diplomatico, but choose what suits your palate.