Drinks

The Best Rum Brands For Perfect Punch & Masterful Mojitos

Rum is a sweet classic spirit that also happens to be a staple stocked in all bars. The rum-arcable history tells the tale of how the first known booze to be manufactured came from Caribbean sugarcane molasses, and became an extremely valuable form of currency. Today, rum is commonly distilled in over 50 different sugar-producing countries, and each country has different rules and regulations as to how their rum is to be produced.

Originally, sugarcane was brought over to the Caribbean from Pacific Asia as part of the spice trade, with new colonies looking to grow something profitable that was not tobacco. Although the etymology of the name ‘rum’ isn’t well known, we do know that with so many different varieties and flavor profiles, this alcohol lives in a category of its own with no structured production methods. 

Centuries ago, it was sailors who set the standard. While our sailing skills are a bit rusty, we know a thing or two about rum, and any of the best rum brands we feature below are excellent choices for both sipping and mixing.

Table of Contents

Regional Variations

The three basic styles of rum are grouped by the language traditionally spoken in the area in which it’s produced: English, French, and Spanish. 

English. Molasses (a syrup made from refining sugarcane) has historically played a huge factor in the production and export throughout English-speaking Caribbean islands like Barbados and Saint Lucia, New England, and parts of West Africa. The general style is traditionally produced from distilled thick, luscious black molasses — dark, spiced, and aromatic. It’s aged in cask for several years.

French. Rhum Agricole was originally distilled in the French Caribbean islands and is made from sugarcane juice, not molasses. The Agricole style rum is column distilled and can be aged in cognac and Armagnac barrels, leaving an unmistakable fruity nose and relatively dry mouthfeel.

Spanish. Ron from areas formerly part of the Spanish Empire is slightly lighter, with a more distinct taste varying from light-bodied to oily, round and complex with age, depending on the distillery.

Rum Grades

For anyone who chooses to jump on the rum train, it’s important not to get too overwhelmed by all the styles and colors. Some of the best rum brands can indeed either make delicious rum cocktails or a satisfactory sipping rum. Taste is affected by small details such as the basic ingredients, method of fermentation, the aging process in wooden barrels, and the blend of rum. The alcohol usually takes on a golden amber hue as it matures in the wood barrel. Some distillers will even incorporate some caramel color, or burnt sugar, to intensify the shade. As much as color can indicate maturity, the clarity usually indicates the sophisticated filtering process used.

Silver Rum

Silver rums are charcoal filtered to remove any color they may have taken on during the aging process; they are aged in oak casks for at least a year, sometimes longer. These rums have a mild, light-body taste. They’re an excellent choice for making mixed drinks, given that a silver rum won’t take over the flavor notes with an overpowering alcohol aftertaste. The majority of these light rums come from Puerto Rico.

Gold Rum

Gold rums are medium-bodied and slightly darker in color — a characteristic gained from being aged in wooden barrels. These rums often carry taste notes of vanilla, nuts, and citrus, because they are typically aged in charred white oak barrels once used for bourbon whiskey. Because this rum leaves a more powerful taste, it works best in cocktails that rely on a more pungent rum taste. There is no uniform color for the liquid; there is a range of hues.

Dark Rum

Dark rums are known for their complex flavors and deep color, ranging from brown or black to red, and are aged the longest of all the types of rum. The smokey taste comes from being aged in wooden casks, which is also where the rum acquires its dark color.

Spiced Rum

Spiced rums are aged similarly to dark rum, but differ in taste thanks to added spices in the barrels, giving them their uniqueness. These rums are most often flavored with caramel, as well as different seeds, dried fruits, cinnamon, rosemary, aniseed, pepper, cloves, and cardamom.

The 7 Best Rums in 2021

Rhum J.M Agricole Blanc rum

Best Silver Rum: Rhum J.M Agricole Blanc

Rhum J.M might be a bit pricier than your average bottle of silver rum, but it is definitely worth it. Produced in Martinique from estate-grown cane harvested yearly, this rum’s sugarcane is fresh-pressed into juice within an hour of being harvested. Next, it begins its natural 48 hours of fermentation. This Martinican rhum is produced according to French production standards, distilling the fermented juice in a Créole copper column still. Boasting a woody flavor with spicy notes, sprinkled with citrus, banana, and caramel, this rum is great either on its own or used as a base in mixed drinks.

Plantation Original Dark Rum

Best Dark Rum: Plantation Original Dark Rum

This award-winning artisanal bottle boasts a complex blend of Jamaican and Barbadian rum, before being shipped to the southwest of France for the final three to six months of the aging process. The double age process brings out notes of plum, banana, and vanilla, and is enhanced by its meticulous blending. The result is profoundly spiced with notes of cinnamon and clove, whose smoky quality adds texture. Surely, this bottle is the perfect base for any cocktail, from Dark N’ Stormies to a classic Bajan rum punch.

Flor de Cana 18-year rum

Best Sipping Rum: Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Rum

Flor de Caña is a Nicaraguan distiller whose name translates to ‘sugarcane flower.’ Renowned as one of the best distillers in Latin America, their 18-year-old rum is aged in small white oak casks for the same amount of time it takes an actual human to reach adulthood. The mellow taste reflects the nutty, butterscotch, and vanilla notes, with a residual taste of spice. While this luxurious gold rum can be enjoyed on the rocks or neat, adding an orange twist is highly recommended! Flor de Caña is a 5th generation single-family estate rum, and one of the best rum brands on the market.

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

Best Spiced Rum: Sailor Jerry

Sailor Jerry was developed after extensive research into historical maritime rums. Out of the two celebrated ways to kick the edge off, sailors had the choice of aging the rum in wood casks or adding spices. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum is filled with all-natural spices to enhance a smooth and rich taste of vanilla, cherry, and cinnamon. With a full-bodied taste, this option is sweet on the tip of the tongue.  The addition of an ice cube can mellow out any bitterness, reducing any possible strong alcohol aftertaste or burn.  Be careful not to add too much water, though — this will dilute the taste and diminish the rum flavors. When sipping spiced rum, the complex flavor notes are important for the full enjoyable experience.

Havana Club Añejo Blanco Puerto Rican Rum

Best Budget Rum: Havana Club Añejo Blanco Puerto Rican Rum

Havana Club Añejo Blanco’s molasses-made rum is based on the same original recipe created in Cuba in 1934. After being distilled, the rum is aged in 180-liter oak barrels for one year in the Caribbean climate. What makes Havana Club Añejo Blanco so special is that it is aged for a second time after the blend and filter are complete. The second aging process is for a minimum of two months to guarantee the hints of pineapple, banana, vanilla, and earthiness really shine through. Cuban-inspired and made with care in Puerto Rico, this is the rum many locals of both countries use for their Mojitos.

Facundo Paraiso rum

Best Premium Rum: Facundo Paraiso

Facundo Paraiso Rum is created by blending the rarest rums found in the Facundo family library — some aged up to 23 years. This premium spirit specializes in attention to detail, thanks to the master distillers at Bacardi truly encompassing 150 years of traditional rum-making. Carefully blended before being finished in French XO casks, this bottle promises a rich and rewarding flavor with a silky-smooth finish. Don’t let the price discourage you from trying one of the most distinguished aged rums on the market. Let the mellow flavors tingle your tongue, and enjoy the aroma of spicy, vanilla, almond, toasty oak notes.

Mount Gay Black Barrel rum

Best Overall: Mount Gay Black Barrel

Mount Gay produces the majority of Bajan rum that is exported globally. It is the oldest continuously operating commercial rum producer in the world, dating back to 1654. The island of Barbados has lots of underground water, a key ingredient in what makes Mount Gay so distinctive, and also a big factor in the British deciding to grow sugarcane for rum production in the 17th century. Introduced in 2014, Black Barrel is both bold and robust. Made up of a blend of different seven-year-old rums, it’s double distilled and left to age for one month in old charred American bourbon casks. This is a classic that will set you back less than forty dollars. 

The Takeaway

The new alcohol trend for 2021 is predicted to be rum. With all the sub-categories, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. Rum has become one of the fastest-growing spirits, outpacing whisky, vodka, tequila, and gin. Whether you are someone who prefers a tropical-tasting cocktail or craves a warm sipping liquor, there are well over 200 distillers to choose from. For over one hundred years, sailors and plantations alike have found different ways to create something delicious out of a sweet by-product. Rum may no longer be more valuable than currency, but luckily, it is more accessible for everyone to taste a tot or two.

FAQs

Rum is a by-product of sugar, usually made of the residue of sugarcane juice called molasses. Sugarcane is usually grown in Caribbean climates or sugar-producing countries. After the cane is harvested, it will be washed and cut to be pressed to extract all water and sugar juice. The rum is created by distilling the fermented sugar juices.

With so many varieties and subcategories of rum, it can be overwhelming to know which type tastes best in a rum cocktail. The easiest way to start would be with light, silver rum in a mojito. Being one of the most famous drinks around the world, it would be hard not to enjoy it.

As the Bajan poem goes, “One of sour,  two of sweet,  three of strong, and four of weak, a dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, serve well chilled, with plenty of ice.” This classic cocktail is easy to make and will transport you to the Caribbean, and set you up on island time. Enjoy!

  • 1 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice (1 of sour)
  • 2 oz simple syrup (2 of sweet)
  • 3 oz Mount Gay rum (3 of strong)
  • 4 oz  Pineapple Juice (4 of weak)
  • a few dashes of Bitters
  • sprinkle ground nutmeg to taste

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