Looking for the best rums? Rum has been having a renaissance of late as more and more drinkers embrace the spirit, both as a base for cocktails and as something to be sipped and savoured in its own right.
Intrigued but not sure where to start or which rum brands to try? Read on for our pick of the best premium rums available now, from clear white rums perfect for daiquiris to buttery, spiced numbers and dark, sultry spirits ideal for sipping.
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A globe-spanning blend of rums from two distilleries (one in Barbados, the other in Mauritius), Equiano Light is the blonder, honey-coloured sister to the original Equiano aged rum. It’s made from both barrel-aged and un-aged rums, and mimics sugarcane juice in aroma and flavour. Expect light and creamy vanilla notes, reminiscent of crème anglaise, with a delicate spiced sweetness and plenty of vibrancy. There’s also citrus peel and subtle woodiness in there, too. Equiano grants 5% of company profits and £2 from every bottle sold through equianorum.com to its 2021 charity partner, Anti-Slavery International.
Made by five sisters – Laura, Briget, Noella, Caroline and Kareen – in London, this elegant golden spiced rum is distilled with five botanicals commonly found in Cameroon (Étän means ‘five’ in their parents’ dialect, Mungaka) in West Africa – fevergrass, ginger, cassia, vanilla and orange peel. Dry on the palate, it’s replete with warming, gingery spice, citrus and vanilla notes that make it perfect for sipping, or try with ginger beer.
A vibrant spiced rum from carbon-negative Devon distillery, Two Drifters. It’s got bags of aromatic flavour, with masses of fresh, tangy pineapple plus caramel, vanilla, baking spice and a candied hint of foam banana sweets. Despite the hefty ABV – 63% – it’s smooth enough to sip neat, but would also work beautifully mixed with ginger beer or cola.
Spiced rums tend to be on the sweet, syrupy side but this unusual white rum from India’s Sanghera Rum Company is a pleasingly modern, dry affair, with plenty of botanical oomph. Deeply aromatic, with notes of cardamom, coriander and cloves, and a peppery finish, the makers of this rum were inspired by English gin-making and it shows – it has an almost juniper-like character. Try mixing with tonic water.
Made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Black Tot day (the last day on which the Royal Navy issued sailors with a daily rum ration), this limited edition rum blend is a marriage of rums from Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad.
Upon first sniff, it’s intoxicating. All the richness of demerara sugar, bananas, mixed spice, ginger cake and treacle, layered over notes of cream. On the palate, it’s overwhelmingly vanilla pods, dark chocolate, hazelnuts and banana – a flavour profile that reminded us very much of a banana split. Drink slowly, over ice – at 54.5% ABV, it’s one to take your time with.
A marrying of aged rums from the Dominican Republic, Panama, Barbados and Guatemala, this fragrant spirit was blended in Devon by the first ever British B Corp rum brand. Smooth and accessible, with caramel and cooked fruit notes, sweetness and gentle baking spice. One to sip neat.
Made with single-origin demerara rum from Guyana, this aromatic spiced rum smells like a kitchen where you’ve been baking festive treats all day – expect vibrant candied citrus, gingerbread and cinnamon notes, and a well-balanced sweetness so you can sip without it all getting too sickly.
If you could distil a bonfire into rum then this is what you’d get. Its bold, almost meaty smokiness hits the nose and palate first, but is followed by more mellow treacle and subtle chocolate hints. This would make a cracking old fashioned with Angostura or orange bitters and brown sugar syrup.
The distillery behind award-winning Tarquin’s Gin have turned their attentions to rum – another Cornish favourite – with this new Spiced Golden Rum. The spirit is inspired by coastal life and is created using a secret recipe of spices which flavour a blend of Jamaican and Dominican Republic varieties. The addition of a little PX sherry and aging over charred oak chips give this rum a warm, complex finish, with notes of vanilla, caramel and nutmeg – like a Cornish sunset in a glass. This is a super-smooth, rounded rum so perfect for sipping straight-up.
Blending three-year-old, traditional-style Jamaican rum with five-year-old Barbadian rum, this has notes of oak and vanilla on the nose, and a smooth, almost buttery mouthfeel. Ideal in a punch.
Aged in ex-bourbon casks for three years, this is a sumptuous, smooth and complex rum with a beautiful toffee colour and luscious brown sugar, caramel and spicy vanilla notes. Seriously sippable.
Believed to be the world’s first Afro-Caribbean rum, Equiano is a blend from distilleries in Barbados and Mauritius, aged for a minimum of eight years and finished in ex-bourbon casks. Expect a sweet butterscotch flavour, as well as sultana and buttery vanilla notes. Look out for an orange peel aftertaste, too. Best enjoyed simply poured over ice.
This single-origin demerara hazelnut rum from Guyana has masses of toasted nutty notes in aroma and flavour, as well as creamy vanilla and some subtle cocoa. Sweet but not cloying, it’s smooth enough to sip on its own or over ice, and would also work beautifully in an old fashioned.
Made from a blend of Jamaican and Trinidadian spirits, the smokiness (from burnt wood chips) in this spirit doesn’t dominate the palate, mingling instead with beguiling notes of tobacco, coffee, oak, rich vanilla and brown sugar.
A rich, opulent Venezuelan rum with dried fruit, vanilla and baking spice notes, and subtle cocoa tones on the palate. With a rounded, velvety texture, this is one to sip neat and savour – preferably in front of a roaring fire.
It was a night drinking Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva that led to the birth of Neythan Hayes and Chris McGuire’s rum and seafood bar in St Ives and, later, their own Cornish rum, Dead Man’s Fingers. They infuse Caribbean rum with spices and age it for three years. The result has notes of orange peel, saffron cake (a Cornish speciality), vanilla and nutmeg – best served over ice.
The Wester Spirit Co in Glasgow has produced a corker. Crafted in copper pot stills, it’s a super-smooth spiced rum, with warming flavours of dried orange peel and creamy vanilla overtones. Sip on the rocks.
One of the few rums produced entirely in the UK, Old Salt is triple-distilled and then aged in English oak for three years. The end result is an elegant affair – think subtle smoke (almost whisky-like) with hints of butterscotch, banoffee pie and a peppery edge.
This unusual white rum from ethical drinks company FAIR. packs a punch, with fragrant herbaceous and menthol aromas, plus rich sugar (thanks to the rum’s high molasses content). Try in an aromatic daiquiri.
Rhum agricoles are made from freshly pressed sugar cane juice rather than molasses as with most other rums, resulting in a funkier spirit. This complex number was matured in oak and finished in port wine casks, and the end result is rewardingly complex – with wood, caramel and seductive chocolate notes.