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Dark Rums For More Than $50 That Are Absolutely Worth The Investment

Rum is one of the fasted growing sectors of the spirits business. Like whiskey, it’s constantly expanding, changing, and deepening. At its highest levels, it marries quality sourcing, craft distilling techniques, new-wave barrelling experimentation, and expert blending. It teases sweetness without being cloying and conjures spice without needing added flavors.

It’s a fun time to drink really good rum, is what we’re saying.

Dark rums — like your favorite whiskeys or bourbons — draw deep colors, rich textures, and beautiful tasting notes from months and years spent in barrels. It’s also a global spirit, meaning you have a lot of variations to try with wildly different flavor profiles. Want something funkier? Drink a Jamaican rum. Looking for something a little more spicy and fruity? Barbados is the play. Looking for something on the cusp? Look out for Mauritian rums. You get the gist.

The ten bottles below are bottles I personally vouch for. I drink a lot of rum throughout the year in a professional capacity. But when I’m paying retail I still find myself coming back to these expressions more often than not.

Mount Gay Black Barrel

Mount Gay

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Mount Gay Distilleries, Barbados (Rémy Cointreau)
Average Price: $50

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 close out the sip.

Bottom Line:

If you bump into me next to a pool, I’ll have a Black Barrel on the rocks in my hand.

Bacardí Gran Reserva Diez

Bacardi Limited

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Bacardi Distillery, Puerto Rico
Average Price: $50

The Rum:

Bacardi has been changing its party image to one of high refinement recently with the Ocho and Diez releases. The Diez — a real stunner — is aged for ten long years and then charcoal filtered (not unlike Tennessee whiskey) before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The refinement and age come through on the fruity nose of with highlights of banana (Tennessee whiskey anyone?), peach, and vanilla. The oak is present but serves as a reminder of the barrel as rich caramel, more vanilla, apple orchards, and a continuous stone fruit essence dance on the palate. The sip fades away evenly with a hint of spice and a distant wisp of tobacco smoke at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid sipper to have on hand but I like to use it as a base for a cracking rum Manhattan.

Flor de Caña 18

Flor de Caña

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua
Average Price: $55

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:

Works as a solid rum on the rocks, highball, or cocktail base.

Equiano

Equiano

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Gray’s distillery, Mauritius & Foursquare, Barbados
Average Price: $60

The Rum:

Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell masterminded this expression — combining African and Caribbean rum traditions. The bottle is created under the watchful eye of rum master Richard Seale who blends rums from Mauritius and Barbados into a one-of-its-kind final product that feels like the future of rum in a bottle.

Tasting Notes:

The Cognac cask finishing comes through even on the nose as fruit, nuts, and spice mingle. The sip naturally has a baseline molasses sweetness that’s supported by fruit, more spice, and a vinous sense alongside the wood. There’s a very mild note of bitterness that leads towards a long, satisfying end with a comforting warmth.

Bottom Line:

This is built as a “drinking rum” according to Burrell. That means you can sip it, shoot it, or mix it. I suggest trying it in a highball or cocktail, but that’s just me.

Ron Zacapa 23 Sistema Solera

Ron Zacapa

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala (Diageo)
Average Price: $67

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:

Sip it with a single rock to help open up all those tasting notes.

Pusser’s Aged 15 Years

Pusser

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Pusser’s Rum Ltd., West Indies
Average Price: $90

The Rum:

Pusser’s blends various rums from the Caribbean to create an expression that is reminiscent of the British Royal Navy rums of yesteryear. There’s a really old school sense to these rums (and the bottle) — all the taste with no flash. They’re a bit of a time machine to days of seafaring past, if you will.

This particular expression is a blend of Guyanan rums that have aged for at least 15 years.

Tasting Notes:

This sip is all about the wood and funk up top. There are notes of nuts, spices, and fruit, but the real point is that wood, minerality, and funkiness. There’s a mild sense of sweetness and warmth on the very short end that sticks with you.

Bottom Line:

This is a weird one and worth a shot if you’re looking for something truly different in the category. It also really works with tonic.

El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

El Dorado

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Demerara Distillers, Guyana
Average Price: $110

The Rum:

A lot of people complain that El Dorado rums are too sweet. And … I tend to agree if we’re talking about the expressions 15 years old and younger. However, the juice completely changes once you get above 20 years and becomes much closer to an earthy whisky.

This expression is a blend of three actual one-of-a-kind rums. One is distilled in the world’s only still-in-operation 19th-century wooden column still. One is distilled in the world’s only still-in-operation 18th-century single wooden pot still. And one is distilled in an 18th century French Savalle column still. That history alone is worth the money. Each is then aged for 21 years in oak before blending.

Tasting Notes:

Christmas cake dripping with melted butter sits next to flourishes of fresh tobacco leaves, dark cacao nibs, incense, and a hint of banana. The sip changes up everything but the cacao, as fatty nuts mingle with dried stone fruits and mild spices. The banana returns with a buttery, brown sugar flicker as the dried fruit deepens and the spice kicks up a notch towards sharp cinnamon before the sip very slowly fades away.

Bottom Line:

Sip this with a drop of water (or a rock) to appreciate the myriad flavors. I also dig it in a brandy snifter after a huge holiday meal.

Diplomático Single Vintage

Diplomático

ABV: 43%
Distillery: Destilerias Unidas S.A., Venezuela
Average Price: $115

The Rum:

This is an expertly-crafted expression. The rums are aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-single malt casks for up to 12 years and then hand-blended by the Maestro himself. The blend then spends a year in Spanish sherry casks to finish it off and really amp up the final product.

Tasting Notes:

Candied ginger dances next to notes of funky wood, orange oils, and a light dusting of Christmas spices. The sip leans into a sherry plummy sweetness as the spice carries on to plenty of wood, bitterness, and a bit more of that orange oil. The sip lingers for just the right amount of time as it retraces each note.

Bottom Line:

This is a light sipper that works wonders with a single rock in the glass.

Appleton Estate Aged 21 Years

Appleton Estate

ABV: 43%
Distillery: The Appleton Estate, Jamaica (J. Wray & Nephew)
Average Price: $140

The Rum:

Joy Spence is making magic happen with her expression at the Appleton Estate. Each of the barrels used in this blend was aged for a minimum of 21 years, giving this a real sense of place and time with a serious depth of flavor.

Tasting Notes:

I get a bit of marzipan next to notes of wood, Jamaican funk, vanilla, wet brown sugar, black pepper, and a flutter of bitter orange marmalade — and that’s just the nose. The sip embraces all those years in oak, mild spice, more almond nuttiness, a dark chocolate bitter edge, and what I’d call a white sugar cube sweetness (in the best possible way).

Bottom Line:

I drink too much of this (usually with one solitary rock).

Editor’s Pick: Montanya Valentia

Montanya Rum

ABV: 40%
Distillery: Montanya Distillery, Crested Butte, CO
Average Price: $55

The Rum:

A very cool story on this one — Karen Hoskin was a classic Rocky Mountain backpacker type who fell in love with rum in Goa, and landed on the idea of starting a rum brand while in Belize. Once she decided to follow this path, she did things her way. Her brand, Montanya, is female-owned, distilled, and bottled — and supports women in spirits with various initiatives and community projects.

This expression is single barrel and double maturation — aging for four years in whiskey barrels and finished in rye barrels. It’s made with no extra honey or sugar of any kind, which is definitely noticeable in the taste (we’ll get to that).

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you get some nice honey-sweet notes with a very solid dose of bright fruits (citrusy). Then the spice appears — not so much baking spices as peppery rye-type spice, with maybe some distant nutmeg. I found the palate to be very mineral-y, which I generally like and also conjures the rugged Rockies. The rye pepper draws out the vegetal, alive nature of the fruits, which I’d describe as “papayo-mango salad with grapefruit squeezed on top.” This is the part of the sip where you say to yourself, “There’s definitely no sugar added.”

On the finish, you get more typical rum cake-vanilla-cinnamon notes but they’re light and breezy (I really love super-rich rums, too, but this isn’t that). Nothing is heavy-handed here.

Bottom Line:

If you can afford this for a hand-shaken lime daiquiri on chipped ice, you’ll look like a cocktail genius. Otherwise, it does nicely as a sipper with an ice cube.

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