With a history going back as far as the 17th century on the Caribbean sugar plantations, rum is one of the most cherished liquors in the world. Made from fermented sugarcane molasses and aged in oak barrels, rum used to be the favorite drink of sailors and pirates, but nowadays it’s a popular spirit all over the world.
While it’s had its bad moments in the past, rum is now getting more and more popular. It’s often used as a base for rum cocktails, but some varieties are better enjoyed neat, on the rocks. Whatever your preference, there’s a rum for everyone, and plenty of rum names and brands, from the cheap and ordinary to the best of the best.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best brands in the rum world, because we know that’s what you’re after. But before we dive into that, let’s find out which are the main types of rum. And you might also want to read our list with the most expensive rums out there.
Types of Rum
White or Clear Rum
Aged for several years, white rums are then put through a filtration process that leaves them without any color they might have gotten during the aging period.
Their body is light and mild, a trait that makes them the right choice for mixing in drinks that don’t need a powerful flavor, such as mojito.
The gold rum, also known as pale rum, comes with a darker hue than the white rums, usually because of the oak barrels it’s aged in, which give it different colors and flavors.
It usually packs hints of citrus, vanilla or almond, and fits best in cocktails that need a pronounced rum flavor, or even cakes, such as the Caribbean rum cake.
As you might expect if you know a little bit about the aging process, the dark rum gets through the longest aging process, getting a complex and smoky taste from the wooden casks, plus that lovely dark hue. As the other types, it can be used in cocktails, but it’s very good by itself as well.
The spiced rum is mostly the same as the dark rum, going through an aging process of similar length, but with that added spiciness, which comes from ginger and cinnamon, or various other dried fruits and flowers that are added into the barrels to create wonderful and unique flavors.
The spiced rum is also very good when served on the rocks, but can be used in cocktails too.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at the 20 best rum brands in the world right now:
20. Brinley Gold Shipwreck
Located on the island of Saint Kitts, the Brinley Gold Shipwreck is a family run business that makes one of the best rums in the world, with plenty of awards under their belt.
Their rum is smooth and delicious, and is famous for the exotic spices that are used in making it. Their Spiced Rum brings notes of orange, vanilla, nutmeg, clove, and island spices.
Their recipe was made in honor of a British ship that sank off the coast of the island back in 1782.
19. Don Papa
Coming from the Philippines, Don Papa is a premium aged rum, with a character and ingredients that’s inspired by the island’s characteristics.
Having been born in 2012, the brand is young, but it has already shown its potential. Their 10 Year limited edition rum is dark and rich in taste, aged in re-charred barrels and packed with notes of dried fruits, cacao and a little hint of oak.
Having turned 160 years of existence, Bacardi has quite a rich history to celebrate. While not among the best in the world, it’s a safe choice when you don’t know what else to get.
It’s a well balanced rum that fits perfectly in various cocktails, especially when you think of their white rum distilled in Puerto Rico, which is why they’re one of the most popular rum brands in the world.
17. Ron Barceló
Founded back in 1929 in the Dominican Republic by Julian Barcelo, Ron Barceló Rum, with its lovely light brown sugar color, is one of the best rums in the world right now.
It comes with an aroma of wood spices, followed by notes of vanilla, butterscotch, almond, orange, and banana peel. It’s a sippable one, with the slightest burn of alcohol.
Facundo isn’t your average rum. The brand is well known for its extra aged premium spirits, and their superb amber hued Facundo Paraiso XA is their best rum to date, aged up to 23 years.
When it comes to the process of rum making, nothing is rushed, and only the highest quality sugarcane is used, while the fermenting and distilling are constantly perfected. The result is a distinct flavor, and notes of dark caramel, chocolate, and toasted walnuts. Definitely a top shelf choice.
15. Holmes Cay
With ABVs between 55 and 64 percent, Holmes Cay rums aren’t for the fainthearted. The company has focused on producing the best single cask rum possible without added sugar or adulterants.
A little bit too intense for some, with amazing flavors, these rums are to be savored slowly, like with a complex scotch whisky.
14. Don Q
Coming from Puerto Rico and named after the famous Don Quixote, Don Q rum has a long history behind. Extremely popular with locals, it’s an affordable entry into the world of good rums, with an aging process that lasts between 3 and 10 years.
The brand offers several expressions, among which the Don Q Cristal, aged in American oak for 2 to 5 years, which is a fit for cocktails, or the Don Q Reserva 7, aged for minimum 7 years in American oak whiskey barrels, which is good for sipping as well and packs that distinct whiskey flavor.
13. Plantation Rum
Plantation Rum began when its owner, Alexandre Gabriel, a French cognac producer, started selling cognac barrels to rum producers in Central America. That’s when he became interested in rum and went on to create a wide variety of high-quality bottles.
The bottlings are sourced from very interesting corners of the Earth, such as the Caribbean, Fiji, Panama, or Peru, and most of them are aged for a second period of time in French cognac casks, giving birth to some unique flavor combinations.
12. Rhum J.M.
Born on the island of Martinique, Rhum J.M. comes as something different to what you might be used with. Known on the island as rhum agricole, the making process doesn’t use molasses to make the spirit. The sugarcane is fermented and distilled, giving birth to a unique rum.
It packs earthy and grassy notes, with an intriguing amber color, and flavors of oak, vanilla, maple, caramel, and almond.
11. Rhum Barbancourt
One of the finest rums Haiti has to offer, Rhum Barbancourt is similar in its making process with the above Rhum J.M., since it’s made from the same sugarcane juice instead of molasses.
Affordable and available at different ages, it’s a high quality rum that’s great for serving on the rocks. Smooth and dry, it doesn’t have the usual sweet aroma of other rums, which makes it even more special.
With its origins dating back all the way to 1806, in Bermuda, Goslings is a very popular name. The brand has won its title of Bermuda’s biggest export for a very long time and it’s maintaining it even today.
Their full-bodied and rich dark rum with its smooth finish has grown extremely popular, especially with the fans of the dark ‘n stormy cocktail.
There’s a reason why the company has trademarked the cocktail name, so that it should only be made with their Goslings Black Seal rum and Goslings ginger beer.
9. Appleton Estate
With a history of almost 300 years, Jamaican based brand Appleton Estate has shown the world that true rum is made without sugar, and the high quality of their offerings supports that.
Even the Jamaican law prohibits the adding of sugar in the rum produced in country. Appleton Estate rums are wonderful choices both for the serious sippers out there and cocktails alike.
Located in Colombia, Dictador is a luxury rum brand which benefits from the advantage of its oceanside location in South America, that has an ideal climate for growing sugarcane.
Instead of using molasses, they make their rum by distilling virgin sugarcane honey, and then aging it in premium oak barrels. The result is outstanding rums, with one of their best example being the Dictador 20 Year Old, with sweet notes of caramel and vanilla, cocoa, and roasted honey.
Equiano is a premium rum brand that has been named in honor of former slave and freedom fighter, Olaudah Equiano. They strive to support global freedom and equality while combating modern slavery.
When it comes to rum, they’ve brought to the world the first ever rum that blends African and Caribbean spirits, impressing everyone with their balanced notes of sweet fruits and warm spice.
6. Ten To One
Ten To One comes from Trinidad and aim to offer the world a premium rum that cherishes authentic Caribbean culture and heritage, lifting itself from the usual image of sugary cocktails.
The delicious Ten To One dark rum is a wonderful combination of Barbados, Dominican, Jamaican and Trinidadian rums, aged in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, resulting in a golden amber hue and a delicious flavor of banana peel, baking spice, and nut loaf.
5. Ron Zacapa
Ron Zacapa is another big name in the world of rum. Based in Zacapa, Guatemala, the artisanal distillery makes their rums by using the first press of virgin sugarcane and a strain of yeast derived from pineapples for the fermentation process.
The liquor is then moved to the top of the valley and left to age in the fresh mountain air, around 7,500 feet above sea level. The result is a rum with a distinctive sweet and smooth flavor.
Behind the Ron Zacapa brand is one of the few female master blenders in the world, Lorena Vasquez from Nicaragua.
4. Flor de Caña
Based at the base of the San Cristobal Volcano in Nicaragua, Flor de Caña is a rum brand that not only makes some of the best rums in the world, but is a sustainable brand as well, caring about the environment.
The family-run business began its activity back in 1890 when Italian explorer Alfredo Francisco set up the distillery. Their collection of rums includes the 30 Year Old, which was made in a limited edition of only 400 bottles, which is a good indicator of their high quality.
3. The Real McCoy
Honoring the legendary American sea captain Bill McCoy, who was smuggling rum from the Caribbean on his boat and selling it off the shores of New York during the prohibition era, The Real McCoy stays true to what made the man an icon.
He always sold his rum unadulterated and clean, which is why it became known as “the real McCoy”.
Nowadays, the company behind the name makes its rum without adding sweeteners, flavors or chemicals, keeping it pure. Their rums are made to be sipped and savored slowly.
2. Mount Gay
Barbados based Mount Gay is another well known name in the world of rums, which has been making fine drinks for more than three centuries.
Their most prized rum, the 1703 Master Select, is a blend of the finest and rarest rums they’ve got, all carefully picked by their master blender. With a superb balance of sandalwood, honeycomb, orange peel, and banana fritters notes, this is a rare rum that should be tasted at least once in a lifetime. If you can get your hands on it, of course.
The Diplomatico distillery is located at the base of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela, where one of the most prestigious rums in the world are born.
Aged in former bourbon and malt whiskey barrels, the spirits are blended, and then placed once more in barrels, this time Sherry casks, to give them rich layers of fruity flavor.
Producing some of the finest rums on the planet, it’s no wonder why Diplomatico has won multiple awards.
Well versed in the art of rum making or just starting your journey in the fascinating world of rums, these are some of the best rum brands you should know about and check.
From popular and accessible brands to some of the finest rums on the planet, we tried to cover it all.