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The ‘Must Try’ Rum Expressions From Ten Fan Favorite Brands

Rum is ever-expanding and massively varied. That makes finding the best rum tough. You can make it anywhere and there are far fewer rules on what makes rum, well, rum. Generally speaking, rum is a sugar cane distillate that uses either raw sugar cane juice, sugar cane honey (condensed sugar cane juice), or molasses (a by-product of sugar production).

That being said, you can technically make rum from any product that has sugar in it. Case in point, Tuzemák (from the Czech Republic) is made with sugar beets and potatoes. Some craft distillers are starting to use sorghum (a grass) as their base. It’s easy, therefore, to argue about what rum even is, but today we’re focusing on the standard, sugarcane-based stuff.

To figure out which rums the people are drinking, we popped over to Ranker. Over 10,000 votes we’re cast for the best rum brands, a clear top ten emerged. We dropped them below alongside call outs for bottles we think you should give a shot.

10. Malibu

Expression to Try: Malibu Black
ABV: 35%
Average Price: $17

The Rum:

This Barbados classic (owned by Pernod Ricard) has been the mainstay of bartenders and sweet rum lovers for decades. The base for Malibu Black is a Malibu’s dark rum blended with their signature coconut liqueur. The ripple with this expression is the higher ABV (standard Malibu is only 21 percent), giving this one a bit more kick.

Tasting Notes:

Expect a mild alcohol burn followed by an oily sense of coconut and molasses. There’s a saccharine nature to the sip that calls out for ice and fruit juices to temper the rough edges. In the end, if you’re mixing this deep into a piña colada, you’ll be fine.

9. Diplomatico

Expression to Try: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $40

The Rum:

This is a massive step up from Malibu and also probably deserves a much higher spot on this list. The Venezuelan rum is a blend of 12-year-old rums made on antique copper pot stills from both molasses and sugar cane honey. The juice is then mellowed in ex-bourbon barrels for over a decade before the master blender creates a damn-near perfect sip.

Tasting Notes:

Red fruits, soft vanilla pods, and dark spices greet you. There’s movement from the sharp spice towards a fresh herbal nature that leans almost savory as the sweetness peaks but never overpowers. Notes of wood, smoke, and citrus make appearances as the velvet end fades slowly through the senses.

8. Sailor Jerry

Expression to Try: Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
ABV: 46%
Average Price: $20

The Rum:

This rum has caught the attention of a lot of bartenders and spiced rum fans the world over. The rum was made to honor legendary tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. It’s a blend of rums sourced from Caribbean distilleries that are then infused with spices, leaning heavily into vanilla and cinnamon.

Tasting Notes:
The spices come through boldly upfront. There’s a sense of oak somewhere in the background alongside clear hints of vanilla, rum-sugars, and alcohol. Pepper spiciness, oakiness, and tart fruit combine on the long finish.

7. Mount Gay

Expression to Try: Mount Gay Black Barrel
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $30

The Rum:

Back in Barbados, Mount Gay continues to the up the game with their very drinkable rums. Black Barrel just got an overall last year thanks to master blender Trudiann Branker. The expression includes blends of three to seven-year-old mostly pot stilled rums. The blend is then finished in heavily charred ex-bourbon barrels for six months.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a lot going on with this sip. Expect a touch of marzipan next to oak char, bright citrus, and dark baking spices. Wisps of smoke mingle next to rich vanilla, zesty orange, bitter cacao, tropical fruits, and dark molasses. There’s a jammy nature to the end that accents the charred bitterness and banana-rum sweetness as it lingers on the senses.

6. Ron Zacapa

Expression to Try: Zacapa XO
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $110

The Rum:

Diageo’s Ron Zacapa makes one of the best rums to ever come out of Guatemala. This rum is made with only sugar cane honey. It’s distilled at sea-level but it’s aged high up in the mountains in ex-bourbon, ex-oloroso sherry, and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. The rum is aged for at least six years and sometimes as long as 23 years before blending and then an additional year finishing in ex-Cognac casks.

Tasting Notes:

This subtle sip leans into the wood on the opening with dark, powdery spices and a note of cola sweetness. Hints of smoke lead through the dark and peppery spice as pings of fruit and sugar cane mix on the palate. The end is slow and mild as the spice and wood fade subtly.

5. Bacardi

Expression to Try: Bacardi Reserva Ocho
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $30

The Rum:

Bacardi is one of the most iconic rum distilleries in the world. This Puerto Rican made expression started out in the late 1800s as the private stock for the Bacardi family’s own table. The expression is a blend of rums that have aged at least eight years and works wonders as a sipping or mixing rum.

Tasting Notes:

Stone fruit and Christmas spices coalesce on the nose. Nutmeg and vanilla dominate as orchards full of plums and nectarines lead towards a wisp of smoke and a note of wood. An earthy minerality arrives late with hints of tobacco, cream soda, and a trace of dark chocolate bitterness.

4. Appleton Estate

Expression to Try: Appleton Estate 8 Year Old Reserve
ABV: 43%
Average Price: $35

The Rum:

Master blender Joy Spence has reinvigorated this Jamaican rum with an almost complete relaunch of the brand. Their Eight Year Old Reserve commemorates the 250th anniversary of the distillery. The expression is a blend of mostly pot stilled rums aged up to eight years in barrels hand-selected by Spence.

Tasting Notes:
Fresh honeycomb meets Christmas spice initially. Banana and orange kick around on the palate with a minerality and clear note of oak. That earthiness marries minor notes of fruit, molasses, and herbaceousness on the curt end.

3. Old Monk

Expression to Try: Old Monk Supreme
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $25

The Rum:

This Indian rum is a massively popular brand internationally. The rum is a “dark rum,” meaning that molasses is added after the distillation to add color and sweetness along with other “flavoring agents.” This is a rough one but so widely drunk overseas that it’s not out-of-place to see it listed.

Tasting Notes:

Old Monk Supreme takes some of the rougher edges off by blending slightly older rums. Still, expect a big rush of alcohol followed by a sweetened rum note. There’s the idea of oak but it feels more like essential oil than actual wood. Hints of butterscotch and fruit ring true on the palate as a little bit of dark spice lead towards a hot and sweet finish.

2. Kraken

Expression to Try: Kraken Black Spiced Rum
ABV: 47%
Average Price: $20

The Rum:

This spiced from Trinidad and Tobago starts off with rums aged for one to two years. The juice is then spiked with 13 spices, with a focus on cinnamon, ginger, and clove. The rum becomes a deep brown that looks almost black. Caramel is added near the end to hold the color.

Tasting Notes:
Vanilla-heavy cream soda and caramel dance with clear molasses rum notes. The sweetness isn’t overpowering and the spice brings a sharpness next to a mild bitterness. The sweetness and alcohol dominate as the spice fades throughout the finish.

1. Captain Morgen

Expression to Try: Captain Morgan 1671 Spiced Rum
ABV: 35%
Average Price: $20

The Rum:

It’s almost impossible to avoid Diageo’s Captain Morgan, especially if we’re talking about spiced rums. Their 1671 bottle commemorates the actual Captain Morgan sailing the high-seas and aims to be a lower-ABV sipping spiced rum. The spiced rum is moved into Spanish oak for an additional year of mellowing before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This sip is much like the classic spiced rum from Captain Morgan with a lot of the edges sanded down. There’s a throughline of vanilla, cinnamon, and molasses up top with a hint of Cherry Coke sweetness. Notes of the wood peak in next to bold sweetness and sharp cinnamon. The end is brisk with the thought of those spices, cherry, and molasses lasting the longest.

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