The Hands-Down Best Rum to Drink Right Now (2022)

The Hands-Down Best Rum to Drink Right Now (1)

For the past few years, we’ve been hearing that rum is about to have its breakout moment. We've been told that whiskey drinkers will discover the joys of an alternative brown spirit (when properly aged, that is) as rum brands finally get their Pappy Rum Winkle—some limited-release, impossibly rare rum that'll spawn a thousand dudes posting selfies on Instagram after waiting in line for 24 hours to score a bottle. Well, it hasn’t quite happened yet, and that might actually be a good thing. While there are some really expensive expressions out there on par with the most coveted bourbon or scotch, you can still get a quality bottle of rum aged for more than 20 years for less than $150, which is something of a steal. Of course, it should be noted that age doesn’t necessarily equal quality, but a carefully matured rum brings layers of flavor and complexity that can rival any whiskey.

One problem that rum has faced over the years is its reputation as an unregulated, duplicitous spirit. There are good reasons for that: Brands sometimes put meaningless numbers on bottles, leading us drinkers to mistake them for age statements, and sugar or other additives are sometimes used to adulterate flavor without any notification. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the latter point; some rum with added sugar is actually quite good. And it’s not that rum is totally unregulated. On the contrary, there are specific rules regarding production, but they vary from country to country, piling on confusion for anyone trying to figure out exactly what’s inside the bottle they spent their hard-earned cash on. Kenneth McCoy of New York’s The Rum House, sums it up: “I think we should have an idea of how [rum is] made, and if it’s made with quality ingredients, not just additives, coloring, and sugar, sugar, sugar.”

The bottom line is that there is a rum for everyone, and likely from a distillery that is transparent about its process. If you are looking for something with zero additives, you are in luck. And if you prefer something sweeter to use for your Dark ‘n Stormy (more on that below), there’s a rum for that, too. Here are 10 of the best rum—and rhum agricole—brands, in all styles, to drink this summer.

The Hands-Down Best Rum to Drink Right Now (2)

Mount Gay

Barbados’s Mount Gay has been around in one form or another for about 300 years, but master blender Trudiann Branker has only held her title at the distillery for a little more than a year. Still, she’s made a big impact upon some of the core expressions in the portfolio. The ages of the rum in the Black Barrel blend have increased from two-to-seven years to three-to-seven years, and the finish time in heavily charred bourbon barrels has been dramatically expanded from four weeks to six months, really amping up the flavors. For XO, the age range in the blend has shifted as well, and rum aged in cognac barrels is now included. Last year, Branker contributed her first Master Blender Collection expression called Mount Gay Pot Still Rum, which was only distilled in pot stills, instead of the usual combination of pot and column stills. We ought to see more special releases like this in the coming years.

Shop Mount Gay From $26, reservebar.com

The Hands-Down Best Rum to Drink Right Now (3)

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The Real McCoy

Foursquare is another Barbados distillery known for making great rum, some of which is sold under other brand names. The Real McCoy is one of those, and founder Bailey Pryor was drawn to master distiller Richard Seale’s no-bullshit approach—no sugar or flavor added. There are currently three main expressions, aged three years, five years, and 12 years in bourbon barrels. Most recently, a 14-year-old rum joined the family in a release of just six thousand bottles. That commitment to transparency appeals to many dedicated drinkers.

Shop The Real McCoy From $20, reservebar.com

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Appleton Estate

Appleton Estate master blender Joy Spence, the first woman to hold that job title, believes there should be two categories of rum: flavored rum (with sugar) and true rum (no sugar added). In Fred Minnick’s book Rum Curious, she is quoted as saying, “You want to add sugar? You can, but the two should be separated.” By law, Jamaican rum is not allowed to have sugar added, and the quality of Appleton Estate’s earthy rums show why it’s not needed. The 12- and 21-year-old expressions are excellent (and the latter is relatively affordable, considering its age), and there are even older bottles like the 25-year-old Joy Anniversary Blend, which contains rum aged up to about 35 years and was created to commemorate Spence’s 20 years at the distillery. This is high-end rum for both serious sippers and people who want to make a good cocktail.

Shop Appleton Estate From $24, reservebar.com

The Hands-Down Best Rum to Drink Right Now (5)

Plantation

Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Maison Ferrand, takes a cue from his native France for his Plantation Rum brand. Sugar is sometimes added to the rum, and Gabriel compares this to the dosage used in champagne production. The company is upfront about it (the website contains detailed information), which goes a long way in the spirits industry. Various bottlings are sourced from countries around the Caribbean, most of which are aged for a second period of time in French cognac casks. And there are so many bottles to explore from Plantation, including a range of single cask expressions and vintage releases from countries like Fiji, Panama, and Peru. Two new releases coming out this summer are the Isle of Fiji rum, a permanent addition to the portfolio that's aged for two to three years in ex-bourbon casks and another year in Ferrand cognac casks, and the Fiji 2005 limited-edition vintage, aged for 14 years in bourbon barrels and another year in cognac casks.

Shop Plantation From $12, drizly.com

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Holmes Cay

Holmes Cay is focused on one thing: releasing the best single cask rum it can find, with no sugar or adulterants added. These bottles are pretty high-octane, with ABVs ranging from about 55 percent to a hefty 64 percent. But add a little water if that seems a bit intense, and the flavors really start to shine. There are two new releases from the brand. The first is a 2004 vintage from Fiji, which is 100 percent pot still rum aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels, and then another four years in American oak casks in the UK. The second release is Guyana Port Mourant Demerara 2005, which is distilled in a double wooden pot still (the brand says this is the only one currently in use) at Demerara Distillers, before being aged for 15 years in used American oak barrels in the UK. These are rums that you should take your time with, the way you might with a complex scotch whisky.

Shop Holmes Cay From $149, caskers.com

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Diplomático

Diplomático is produced in Venezuela from molasses and sugarcane honey, which the distillery describes as “the syrup left over after the first boiling of sugarcane,” with a higher sugar content than molasses. Reserva Exclusiva is a dependable spirit to have in your home bar, made in a variety of still types and aged for up to 12 years in oak casks. The higher-end Ambassador is also quite good, a rum aged for a minimum of 12 years in white oak before being finished for two years in PX sherry casks. The latest release, Pot Still Rum, is the third in Diplomático’s Distillery Collection. The trilogy is meant to showcase the different methods of distillation, so this one focuses singularly on copper pot stills. As permitted by Venezuelan law, there is some sugar added to the rum during aging, but the sweetness complements a palate full of banana, oak, and vanilla.

Shop Diplomático From $30, reservebar.com

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Rhum JM

On the island of Martinique, the rum produced is known as rhum agricole, and this indicates an important distinction. Instead of using molasses to make the spirit, sugarcane juice is fermented and distilled into something that is somewhat familiar but decidedly different. Try Rhum JM’s white rum to really experience how unique the spirit is, with grassy and earthy notes that complement this pleasantly dry, unaged rhum. The brand takes its cues from cognac in terms of age designations, with VO, VSOP (aged three years), and XO expressions. There are also some excellent vintage releases to try, ranging from 10 to 15 years old and bottled at cask strength.

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Shop Rhum JM From $25, drizly.com

Don Q

Bacardi is the biggest rum distillery in Puerto Rico, but Destileria Serralles makes what might be the most popular as far as the locals are concerned: Don Q. This inexpensive rum is named after Don Quixote and has been around since the end of Prohibition. The brand has a slew of different expressions, including an añejo consisting of a blend of rum aged from three to ten years, a couple of single barrel releases, and an interesting Vermouth Cask Finish that spends four to six weeks in Italian oak vermouth barrels after aging in American oak for five to eight years. One of the most recent releases was the Double Aged Sherry Cask Finished rum, which adds another layer of dried fruit sweetness to the spirit.

Shop Don Q From $15, reservebar.com

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Goslings

When you think of a Dark ‘n Stormy, Goslings would like you to think of its rum, and its rum alone. In fact, the brand has trademarked the cocktail’s name, insisting that it must be made with Goslings Black Seal rum and Goslings ginger beer. Of course, you’ll (probably) be safe making it with whatever rum you fancy at home. But there is a reason Goslings is as popular as it is: It’s cheap and it goes down easy. Goslings doesn't have a distillery; instead, the Bermuda-based company sources barrels from other countries, ages and blends in Bermuda, and ships the rum to Kentucky for bottling. The rum in Black Seal is aged in bourbon barrels for several years, but that dark color is amplified by the addition of molasses from one of the distillates in the final blend, according to Malcolm Gosling. If you’re looking for something more complex, check out Papa Seal Single Barrel, a delicious 15-year-old rum that is released in very limited numbers.

Shop Goslings From $22, reservebar.com

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Rhum Barbancourt

Like Martinique, Haiti produces rhum agricole made from sugarcane juice instead of molasses. Rhum Barbancourt is the largest and best known rum producer on the island, with a range that is affordable and available with different age statements, providing solid options for sipping on its own or putting to use in an interesting cocktail. These include the high-end Estate Reserve, a 15-year-old spirit that is best enjoyed neat or maybe with a large ice cube; 3 Star, which is aged for four years despite the name; and Pango Rhum, an aged rum that is flavored with macerated pineapples and mangos.

Shop Rhum Barbancourt From $13, reservebar.com

The Hands-Down Best Rum to Drink Right Now (12)

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Jonah Flicker is a freelance writer who covers booze, food, travel, and lifestyle for a variety of publications. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two daughters, and one cairn terrier.

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FAQs

What is the smoothest rum to drink straight? ›

8 Best Rums to Sip Straight
  • Ron Barrilito 3 Star Rum $35. ...
  • Diplomatico Blanco Reserve Rum $31. ...
  • Chairman's Reserve Forgotten Cask Rum $44. ...
  • El Dorado 12 Year Demerara Rum $34. ...
  • Santa Teresa 1796 Rum $44. ...
  • Rhum J.M. X.O. ...
  • Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum $90. ...
  • Facundo Exquisito Rum $150.
Mar 30, 2018

What is the best rum ever made? ›

The World's Best Rums According To The Global Spirits Masters
  • The top rum in the world was the Worthy Park Estate, White Overproof Rum, 63.5% ABV. ...
  • The top Super Premium White Rum ($25-$40) was Ten to One White Rum, 45% ABV.
Mar 1, 2022

What rum is top shelf? ›

Top Shelf Rum Picks From The Distiller Community
  • 8 SelvaRey Chocolate Rum. ...
  • 7 Chairman's Reserve The Forgotten Casks Rum. ...
  • 6 Kirk and Sweeney 23 Year Rum. ...
  • 5 Bacardí Oakheart Spiced Rum. ...
  • 4 Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum. ...
  • 3 Balcones Rumble. ...
  • 2 Appleton Estate 21 Year Limited Edition. ...
  • 1 Ron Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum.

What's the best way to drink rum? ›

Drink It Like Whiskey—with a Splash of Water or Ice

Most spirits are distilled to 40 percent alcohol by volume, or 80 proof, but many rums are bottled at higher proofs. For those stiffer rums, “adding ice or a splash of water will mellow it out so the alcohol vapors don't overpower the subtle flavors,” says Vida.

Is Bacardi or Captain Morgan better? ›

Captain Morgan White Rum is much sweeter and softer but with a little less structure than Bacardi Superior. Bacardi's finish is a lot drier and more acidic, but the flavors in Superior taste more true to the base molasses, and Superior also has a superior mouthfeel.

What is the most awarded rum in the world? ›

During its 150th year, the iconic BACARDI rum portfolio surpassed 550 awards for quality, taste and innovation, making it the most awarded rum in the world—and the most awarded spirit of all time—outscoring all other spirits: rums, whiskies, bourbons, brandies, cordials, liqueurs, gins, tequilas and vodkas.

Does rum have any health benefits? ›

Rum consumption can give you a healthy and strong heart. Also, it decreases cholesterol levels in the body. It is also a good drink for peripheral artery disease prevention and is a blood thinner, which can help combat artery blockages, prevent heart attacks and heart disease.

What is a premium rum? ›

Learn more about premium rum

Premium rums include Cockspur and Appleton estate. Premium rums are usually made to be consumed neat. Older isn't necessarily better; an extensive ageing process is important but depends more on the type of ageing undertaken. In general, the darker rums are usually classified as premium.

What rum did Pirates drink? ›

Think unadulterated, dark, pot stilled Jamaican, Haitian, Bajan, and Martinican rums. If they happened to take a British Royal Navy ship, then they got grog, which is rum mixed with sugar, lime, and water.

What is the most popular rum drink? ›

In fact, the Daiquiri is the top-selling rum cocktail across the globe. Though many imbibers think of the sweet frozen cocktails from their beach vacations of yesteryear, the Daiquiri is actually a simple and tart drink that's far from saccharine.

What happens if you drink rum everyday? ›

Unfortunately for rum aficionados, drinking too much alcohol of any kind — including rum — can damage your liver, as noted by registered dietitian Laura Krebs-Holm. "Chronic excessive drinking can lead to alcoholism, fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis," she told The List.

Which is better dark or white rum? ›

The differences between light and dark rum are subtle but important. Dark rum is aged for longer, giving it stronger flavors and colors. If you prefer more subtle flavors, then light rum is your best bet. If you want a great sipping rum, then try a dark rum like Pusser's.

Which rum is the sweetest? ›

As long as the rum is less than 54% ABV and doesn't use molasses, it can be considered cachaça. Known for its exceptionally sweet sugar cane crop, Brazil's other rums and cachaça are widely accepted as the sweetest and most palatable rums in production.

What is the oldest rum brand? ›

The company's oldest deed of property dates from February 1703, making Mount Gay Rum the oldest brand of rum in the world.

What's a sipping rum? ›

A sipping rum is basically the Scotch of the rum world and is carefully matured and created by master blenders to be consumed by discerning palates either straight up or on the rocks without any additions. Personally, as a whisky drinker these are my favorite rums and I typically savor them neat in a brandy snifter.

Is Malibu stronger than Bacardi? ›

Malibu is pretty light with only 21% alcohol /volume compared with Bacardi coming in at 35%. This results in Malibu having the much smoother taste.

Is Bacardi Superior top shelf? ›

Home > Rum > Is Bacardi Rum Top Shelf? Premium rum can be found on the top shelf of any liquor store. So if the proof is more than 45%, it is an overproof rum. This category includes spirits such as Bacardi 151, which are commonly used in mixed drinks.

Is Spiced rum good for sipping? ›

A spiced rum is ideal for sipping over ice, as it allows you to fully appreciate all of the flavors that have been distilled into this wonderful spirit.

Is Spiced rum good straight? ›

Be bold - try it straight!

A Spiced Rum is perfect as a sipping drink just on ice. This will give you a perfect chance to taste all of the flavours that have been distilled into this wonderful spirit. Go on, be bold, try it with the Spirit of Rebellion!

What is good rum for mixed drinks? ›

Rum cocktails: the best rums for making classic rum cocktails
  • Havana Club No 3 White Rum, 40% ...
  • Appleton 8 Year Old Reserve Rum, 43% ...
  • Veritas White Rum, 47% ...
  • Rhum Clément Ambre, 40% ...
  • Goslings Black Seal Bermuda Rum, 40% ...
  • Yagura Organic Cachaça, 40% ...
  • Bacardi Reserva 8 Year Old, 41.3% ...
  • Eminente Reserva 7 Year Old, 41.3%
Jun 2, 2021

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