In 2018, Americans purchased 23.9 million 9-liter cases of rum, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. To put that into perspective, that’s 97 percent of the volume of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sold in the U.S. over the same period.
No one would argue that rum enjoys the same collector fan base as bourbon (though its popularity is growing), nor would they describe the spirit as offering a similar investment opportunity. There are, however, a number of reasons to be excited about rum.
For as little as $35, drinkers can purchase a range of high-quality aged rums boasting more than a decade in barrel. (Good luck finding similarly aged bourbon or Scotch at that price.) And while many in the industry cite its lack of production regulations as a stumbling block for rum, one could argue that the loose controls on base ingredients, distillation techniques, and aging periods and vessels make the category much more diverse than any other spirit.
VinePair recently conducted a huge tasting of nationally available rum brands to compile this ranking. With some brands offering a number of worthy options within a narrow price range of one another, we limited inclusion to one bottle per brand per category. Whether your budget is $25, $50, $100, or more, here are 20 of the best rums for every budget.
A respectable option in a pinch, this bottle fares surprisingly well when sipped alongside more expensive competitors. A blend of one- to four-year-old rums aged in American oak casks, Bacardí Gold has attractive dried fruit aromas followed by smokey, earthy flavors. Top with Coke or ginger beer for a simple, refreshing summer cocktail. Average price: $15
Produced and bottled at the legendary Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, this charcoal-filtered aged white rum shows marzipan and molasses on the nose, and a vanilla-rich creamy palate. The sweet notes are balanced by a black pepper spice, though we do recommend holding back on the simple syrup when mixing in a Daiquiri. Average price: $21.
Like Malibu for craft beverage lovers, this blend combines Nicaraguan and Virgin Island rum with fresh coconut water (also from Nicaragua). Single Prop has a pleasantly sweet profile with prominent fresh coconut notes. Serve with some ice cubes, a lime wedge, and a splash more coconut water. Average price: $23.
This honey-hued rum contains a blend of five- to 12-year-old St. Croix rums, which age in oak casks before losing some color through charcoal filtration. It’s a complex blend that sees pineapple husk and grassy aromas followed by a pepper-spiced palate and contemplative finish. Average price: $23.
This Barbadian rum benefits from a gentle swirling to open it up. After a minute or so, candied tropical fruits emerge from a haze of charred oak. The rum drinks smooth and packs a punch of vanilla and sweet baking spice flavors. You can sip this, but we prefer it mixed in an Old Fashioned. Average price: $24.
There are very few high- quality sipping rums available for $30. This is the best by far. A lively blend of vintage rums aged between five and 12 years, its aromas are a mix of fresh apples, pears, and brown sugar, with dried fruits and caramel arriving on the palate. Average price: $30
A recent entry to the category, Ten to One sources its rums from different countries across the Caribbean, then compiles proprietary blends. This bottle contains a column-distilled rum from the Dominican Republic and a pot-distilled Jamaican rum. It enters the bottle at 45 percent ABV and is much more complex than all the other white rums we tasted. Perfect for Daiquiris, this will become a bartender staple in no time. Average price: $30.
From the world’s oldest continuously operating commercial rum producer, this Barbadian aged rum contains a mix of pot and column distillates aged in repurposed bourbon barrels. A smooth-drinking release with sweet toffee and candied tropical fruit notes. Average price: $30
Located in the heart of the Belize rainforest, Copalli distills this rum using just three ingredients: sugar cane juice, yeast, and rainforest canopy water. The rum rests in used bourbon barrels before bottling, and has a botanical character akin to barrel-aged gin. If you’re looking for a unique, funky dark rum, this is the bottle for you. Average price: $34.
Produced by Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, a Cuban master rum distiller with over 50 years of industry experience, this aged rum has a pleasantly sweet nose that gives way to a fruity palate with a prickly finish. One of our favorite rums overall, this bottle punches well above its price tag and offers fantastic value for money. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Average price: $35.
The youngest expression from Nicaraguan distiller Flor de Caña, this amber-hued rum ages 12 years before release. During this time, it develops a rich, spicy profile, and dried fig, candied orange peel, and nutmeg notes. Average price: $35
If you like complex dessert wines, pick up a bottle of Dos Maderas 5 + 5 PX. The rum utilizes a unique aging system that sees it age in two continents and three types of oak cask. The process adds a notably rich, amber color and notes of dried raisins, figs, and vanilla. Average Price: $35
This is our favorite rum from Venezuelan producer Diplomático. It’s a playful mix of banana ice cream and golden raisins on the nose, with sweet butterscotch on the palate. If you can’t get your hands on this bottle, the brand’s “Planas” white rum and “Mantuano” aged rum are also fantastic options. Average price: $40
The label for this Guatemalan rum is slightly misleading, with the number 23 signifying the age of the oldest spirit in the bottle, rather than the youngest. A pleasurable sipping rum, Zacapa 23 has spiced oak character and dried fruit complexity. Average price: $40
The second-oldest expression from Flor de Caña, the extra years in barrel have added dried banana peel, tobacco, and old oak aromas, and a well-integrated tannic texture to the palate. The finish is spiced with a distinct cedar note. A perfect gift for your favorite Scotch-drinking relative. Average price: $50
Georgia-based Richland Distillery was founded in 1999. The American brand might lack the history of other producers on this list, but its rum is not left wanting when it comes to balance, quality, and complexity. Somewhat unusually, the rum is distilled from sugar cane syrup rather than molasses or cane juice, but we love the results. Vegetal, smokey, and complex, this is a must-buy for craft spirits nerds. Average price: $60
Chicago-based Parce bottles aged Colombian rums in eight- and 12-year expressions. (Parce is Colombian slang for “good friend.”) Parce 12 has a delicate nose that includes aromas of cedar, almond, dried apricot, and cigar leaf. The palate starts with zippy fresh fruit, followed by toasty notes and dark caramel. A mouthwatering, refreshing dark rum. Average price: $67
Located in Barbados, and owned and operated by fourth-generation distiller Richard Seale, Foursquare Rum Distillery is often referred to as the “Pappy” of rum, owing to the extremely high demand for its releases. The 2005 Single Blended Rum currently offers one of the best opportunities to sample the coveted brand. Released in October 2017, it’s a blend of pot and column distillates, which age for 12 years in used bourbon barrels. Average price: $79.
Bacardí’s Facundo collection launched in 2013 to honor the company’s founder, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó. A complex rum with a rich flavor profile, the “X” on the bottle refers to the 10-year minimum aging time of the spirits in the blend. At $90 a bottle, some might shy away from mixing this in a cocktail, but they’d be missing out on one of the most delicious Old Fashioneds we’ve ever tasted. Average price: $90
A small-batch, 2,000-bottle release, Paraíso represents the top end of the Facundo collection. A blend of rums aged up to 23 years in white oak barrels, this rum finishes in XO Cognac casks before it’s bottled in ornate decanters. Paraíso enjoys a layered profile, with a marmalade-rich bouquet, and notes of pecans, cherries, and dried apricots. A velvety sipping rum with a lightly smoked finish, enjoy neat or over a single large ice cube. Average price: $250.