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The Best Dark Rums Under $50, Ranked

After the last blind tasting I did with dark rum, I realized I need to drink more dark rum. It’s great, nuanced alcohol that deserves just as much space on any bar cart as any whisk(e)y. To that end, let’s talk a little bit more about some dark rums and rank them.

Dark rum, like whiskey, is aged in oak, which imparts both deep flavors and color. At the end of the day, we’re talking about a very similar process just with different ingredients at the base of the spirit. In this case, sugar cane by-products instead of grains. After that, the process is very similar from the distillation to the aging to the bottling. Hence, the deep similarities that run between a well-aged rum and whiskey.

To that end, I’m calling out ten dark rums we should all be drinking more of. These are ranked according to their flavor and all cost less than $50 (though some brush right up against that barrier). Let’s get into it!

10. Angostura 7

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Angostura

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $28

The Rum:

While Trinidad and Tobago’s Angostura is probably best known for its iconic bitters, don’t sleep on their deep bench of rums. Their seven-year-old expression is a really solid entry. The juice is aged for at least seven years in ex-bourbon before it’s blended, filtered, proofed, and bottled with no sugary or spicy additives.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mix of maple syrup, bitter cacao, buttery toffee, oak char, and rich vanilla up top. The sip has an espresso bitterness next to more cacao powder with a really creamy vanilla nature plus a slight Christmas spice sharpness. All of that combines on the slow end into a Christmas cake vanilla pudding dusted with coffee and cacao … kind of like a crème brûlée tiramisu.

Bottom Line:

This rum has no business being this cheap. Seriously, this could cost twice as much and no one would bat an eye. It’s tasty, mixable, and sippable.

9. El Dorado 12

El Dorado 12
Demerara Distillers

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

The Rum:

This iconic Guyanan rum is made from Demerara sugar. The blend is built from rums off three different types of stills. Those spirits go into barrels that age for at least 12 years before they’re vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of dark and rich molasses syrup that’s cut with plums, cinnamon, and almonds that all combine for a type of sweet candy. The palate really holds onto that sweetness as dates, raisins, eggnog spice, rich vanilla, and slightly sticky and sweet tobacco drive the taste towards a semi-sweet yet warm mid-palate. The finish edges away from the spice and warmth back towards the sweet, dark fruits, leaving you with a rush of dark and syrupy candy.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect rum for anyone with a sweet tooth. It’s a great dessert pour and rules over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s also a nice late-night sipper if you’re into the bolder dark rums.

8. Santa Teresa 1796

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Santa Teresa

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $46

The Rum:

The Venezuelan rum is a blend of rums aged from four to 35 years in former Spanish sherry and brandy barrels. Those key barrels are hand-selected for their depth and then married into this masterful rum.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sense of honey on the nose with hints of dark chocolate and a touch of red fruit next to oak. The palate leans into honey as the vanilla kicks in with a creamy edge next to green bananas, toasted coconut, wet cedar, and a little more dark chocolate. The end is pretty short but stays tropical, soft, and full of fruit.

Bottom Line:

This feels like a solid cocktail base that also happens to work well as a sipper on a few rocks. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it hits high marks without costing too much.

7. Mount Gay Black Barrel

Mount Gay Black Barrel
Mount Gay

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $40

The Rum:

You can’t really talk about rum and not talk about Barbados and Mount Gay. The distillery is the oldest rum distillery in the world and Barbados is known as the “birthplace” of the spirit. This expression is first aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being blended and finished in heavily-charred oak, giving the sip an incredible sense of depth.

Tasting Notes:

This is an even-handed rum. Notes of lemon-lime pop next to roasted nuts and plenty of sharp, dark spice. The palate delivers a hint of bourbon vanilla then carries on through notes of sweet tropical fruits, more citrus, thick molasses, plenty of Christmas spice, and a clear sense of bitter charred oak. The fattiness from the nuts marries that aforementioned bitterness as the warmth from the spice closes out the sip.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect on the rocks rum, especially if you’re beachside. It’s super easy-drinking, has enough depth to keep you engaged, and is always a delight.

6. Bacardi 10

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Bacardi

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $42

The Rum:

This is Bacardi’s high-end expression that’s crazy cheap. The rum is aged for ten long years in lightly charred oak before its charcoal filtered and brought down to proof, creating an ultra-refined expression.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a duo of very soft leather next to a basket full of tropical fruits. The palate is light but offers a pan full of Bananas Foster with plenty of brown sugar and holiday spice with a slight touch of dried fruits. That butter drives the mid-palate towards a finish brimming with old cellar cobwebs and a nice layer of vanilla-laced tobacco.

Bottom Line:

This feels a little like Bacardi’s answer to well-aged whiskey. It’s very nuanced and distinct. Yet, it’s not too pretentious to be used in a killer cocktail or over the rocks.

5. Flor de Caña 18

Flor de Cana 18
William Grant & Sons

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

The Rum:

This Nicaraguan rum is made on the slopes of the San Cristóbal Volcano. The molasses is made from estate-grown sugar cane from that volcanic soil. The rums are then aged in ex-bourbon barrels for varying amounts of time before blending. It’s important to note that “18” is the average age of the barrels involved and not the age of the expression.

Tasting Notes:

Bold and dark spices mingle with potpourri and a sense of sweet red fruit. The subtle molasses arrives and carries the fruit and florals towards a woody flourish. There’s a mineral edge that leans towards smoky, fruit-flavored pipe tobacco on the warming end.

Bottom Line:

This is a quality rum that hits very well as a sipper. It also works wonders if you’re looking to make a rum old fashioned.

4. Foursquare Port Cask Finish 9 Year

Foursquare Port Cask
Foursquare

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

The Rum:

The Barbadian rum is the base for a lot of sourced rums out there. This expression is aged for three years in ex-bourbon barrels and then transferred to port casks for a finishing touch over six more years. The idea was to mimic the rum of the days of yore which were aged and then transported in old port or sherry casks around the world.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a delicate sweetness on the nose that feels like packed brown sugar next to tart red berries with a touch of stem and seeds still mixed in. The taste holds onto the sugar as hints of espresso beans and dark chocolate mix with the berries as notes of soft vanilla, pear, and cinnamon spice mingle on the back end. The finish takes its time ends on an almost savory note reminiscent of fresh pumpkin with a touch of sage.

Bottom Line:

This takes you on a great journey from nose to finish. It’s unique and very easy to drink without any one element overpowering the rest. You won’t even need to add a rock to this one to enjoy it.

3. Appleton Estate Rare Cask 12

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J. Wray and Nephew Ltd.

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $42

The Rum:

This expression is what happens when you let quality rum rest a little longer to really dig deep on flavors. Each rum in the blend has been aged at least 12 years (some many more) and is hand-selected by legendary blender Joy Spence for its exactness in texture and flavor.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a mix of dried fruits, nuts, and holiday spice that’s very close to a holiday fruit cake in all the best ways. There’s a nougat creaminess to the body that plays well with those dried fruits and spices. A touch of the Jamaican hogo, or funk, does come through but it’s muted next to the sweet and spice elements. This is very easy to sip and notably velvety.

Bottom Line:

This is a super easy sipper that mostly gets used in cocktails. While we’re not complaining since this makes great cocktails, don’t sleep on pouring this over some rocks and enjoying it at the end of the day.

2. Ron Zacapa No. 23

Zacapa 23
Ron Zacapa

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $49

The Rum:

This Guatemalan rum is a serious bottle. The sugar cane honey is derived from single estate cane grown in the highlands. The first-press sugar cane juice is fermented with pineapple yeast before distillation. The juice is then aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, Oloroso sherry, and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for six to 23 years (again, the “23” is just the oldest barrel in the blend and not the age statement).

Tasting Notes:

Subtlety is the biggest note. There’s a dark chocolate bitterness touched by cinnamon spice, a hint of citrus, a waft of vanilla, and a dose of funk. The sip has a deep woodiness that carries hints of fresh tobacco, fatty nuts, thin molasses, and fresh, almost juicy, spices through a lingering finish.

Bottom Line:

You can go back and forth on this dark rum. Sometimes it feels like a standard workhorse rum for mixing and sipping. Other times, it feels like a really solid sipper at a great price that you wouldn’t think of mixing. The point is, it’s good for both so enjoy it how you want to.

1. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

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Diplomatico

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

The Rum:

This Venezuelan rum is a blend of a minimum of 12-year-old juice made from both sugarcane honey and molasses. The rums were aged in ex-bourbon barrels high up in the Amazonia before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Dark, almost burnt, sugars lead you towards rich and butter toffee with a brittle edge and a dusting of eggnog spice that’s heavy on the nutmeg. That buttery nature really drives the taste towards a vanilla buttercream next to moist marzipan and a touch of tobacco sweetness. The finish arrives with a sprinkling of orange zest and holiday spices with a final dry walnut shell end.

Bottom Line:

There’s really not any rum on his list that comes close to this when it comes to the flavor or price. This is damn near perfect rum (at any price point) that is almost too easy to drink. You can’t go wrong pouring some of this into a glass (rocks optional).

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