While dark spirits have long been favored for holiday gifting, rum is often overlooked. We consider that a tragedy, as sugar cane- and molasses-based spirits can bring just as much nuance to the table as any Pappy Van Winkle or Rémy Martin release. From the hogo-fueled expressions from the depths of Jamaican dunder pits to the grassy, funky white rums of Haiti and Martinique, there’s a rum out there for everyone, and VinePair has you covered with our picks below.
Keep reading for the seven best bottles of rum to gift in 2023 and the tropical escapism they may bring.
Best Budget Rum: Amrut Old Port Rum
Best Splurge Rum: Rhum Clément Cuvée Homère
Best Rum for Beginners: Don Q Reserva 7
Best Rum for Geeks: Clairin Sajous
Best Rum for Cocktail Lovers: Noël Barrel Aged Rum Tequila Cask Finished
Best Rum to Impress: Black Tot Aged Caribbean Rum
Best Limited-Edition Rum: Rhumb Runner Fernandes Trinidad 18 Year Old Rum
Best Budget Rum
Don’t let the $24 price tag fool you — this is a beast of a well-rounded rum for bar carts. Made with 100 percent domestic molasses, Amrut Old Port Rum is distilled, aged, and bottled in its native India. And while Amrut is best known for its whisky offerings, this phenomenal rum shows the versatility of its producer. It’s sweet on the nose with a tropical palate, packing in concentrated notes of pineapple and dried mango. If you’re to make a nice gesture without breaking the bank, look no further.
Average Price: $24
Best Splurge Rum
Uber-luxe packaging can be a red flag in the spirits world depending on what you’re drinking, but this rhum’s gilded stopper is truly emblematic of the high-quality liquid within. Produced in Martinique — a French island with a deep history of rum distillation and the birthplace of rhum agricole — this expression departs from the traditional path of Martinique rhums as it’s a combination of 7- and 15-year-old bourbon-barrel-aged cane rums. Pour it into a snifter glass and the nose opens with wafts of sun-baked raisins, a medley of tropical fruits, and a touch of oaky vanilla. The palate, however, pulls back on the sweetness to allow for drier, more savory notes to shine through. Given the abundance of cloying aged rums on the market these days, we understand some reluctance to fork over a hefty sum for a bottle like this — but rest assured, this one delivers balance on all fronts.
Average Price: $120
Best Rum for Beginners
This Puerto Rican rum is aged for seven years in American white oak, making for a sweet, vanilla-kissed nose redolent of baking spices and caramel. It holds its own as a standalone sipper and a cocktail component alike, with its flavor far surpassing its $25 price tag. For newcomers to the category who want to get a little taste for premium aged rums, this is a perfect segue bottle. Not to mention, this rum works wonders in baked goods. Rum cake with Don Q 7? Hell, yes.
Average Price: $25
Best Rum for Geeks
Hailing from Haiti and clocking it at a whopping 56.5 percent ABV, Clairin Sajous is produced at Distillerie Chelo in the countryside of Saint-Michel-de-l’Attalaye, which many consider to be the grand cru of clairin. For those unfamiliar with clairin, it’s a subcategory of rum that uses wild sugar cane juice and indigenous Haitian yeasts in its distillation. This particular expression is made from Canne Cristalline cane juice, providing it with a distinct sense of Haitian terroir. Notes of grassy funk, tree-ripened stone fruit, and diesel fuel evolve from nose to finish. For only $45, this complex, still-proof rum gives die-hard spirits geeks plenty to nerd out about.
Average Price: $45
Best Rum for Cocktail Lovers
Noël’s Tequila Cask-Finished rum is certainly a departure from the norm, but it’s by no means gimmicky. Bottled in the U.S. and made with molasses-based rums from North and Central America, this expression spends six years resting in white American oak before a finishing period in tequila casks. That last step imparts this expression with a bouquet of green, peppery agave aromas followed by a fresh and vibrant palate, fully living up to the expectations set by the spirit’s bright golden color. Feel free to sip this one neat to explore its unique character, but we urge you to take it for a spin in a Daiquiri, Margarita, or even a Cuba Libre.
Average Price: $47
Best Rum to Impress
Crafted with a blend of rums from Barbados, Guyana, and Jamaica, Black Tot’s Aged Rum is like a multi-island distillery tour in one bottle. The nose bursts with rich hogo aromas — likely from the Jamaican rum influence — exuding notes of brûléed banana, followed by clove, chocolate and a hint of coffee. On the palate, the Guyanese and Barbadian components shine with hints of vanilla, baking spice, and black peppercorns. This rum is outstanding in every sense of the word — even the bottle itself is dressed to impress with its nautical, embossed black label. This rum makes for a decadent after-dinner digestif, but also holds its own when mixed in cocktails. Try it out in a Painkiller or a Kingston Negroni and thank us later.
Average Price: $66
Best Limited-Edition Rum
There are only 237 bottles of this rum out there in the wild, but if you manage to track one down, you’re in for a treat. Distilled in Trinidad, aged for 18 years, and bottled at cask strength, this unicorn release flexes its complexity in spades. The nose hits like a tropical fruit basket, with concentrated aromas of banana, guava, passion fruit, and mango making up the spirit’s core profile. As it unfolds across the palate, pepper, licorice, and light notes of mesquite BBQ make a welcome appearance, but don’t upstage the produce promised on the nose. This rum clocks in at 67.3 percent ABV, so feel free to proof it down with a few drops of water to unlock its full potential. Be warned: This bottle is already hitting the resale market at an inflated price, so try and get it at the suggested $140 while you still can.
Average Price: $140