The Underrated Rums You Should Be Drinking Right Now, According To Spirit Experts

You probably already know that rum is, in the simplest terms, a spirit made from fermenting and distilling sugarcane or sugarcane juice. And while that is the simple explanation, there’s so much more to this sweet, rich, spirit than that. It can be unaged, matured for months or years at a time, or flavored with spices.

Most popular in the Caribbean, but made all over the world, it’s a spirit dominated by a handful of big names. And while we won’t go into detail as to whether brands like Bacardi, Sailor Jerry, and Captain Morgan are overrated or not, we do want to shine a light on some of the lesser-known, underrated, and underappreciated rums on the market.

“I have long held the belief that rum is the most underrated category in sipping spirits,” says Fred Minnick, author and spirits expert. “So many rums are geared towards cocktails that the public doesn’t think about the category the same was as they do whiskey.”

We could have spent hours perusing the aisles at our local liquor store or scrolling through online retailers, but we decided to ask for some help from the professionals. We asked a handful of well-known spirits experts and distillers to tell us their picks for the most underrated rums to drink right now. Keep scrolling to see all of their picks.

Copalli Cacao

Copalli Cacao
Copalli

Frank Caiafa, author of “The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book” and creative director at Handle Bars NYC in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $29.99

Why This Rum?

Copalli Cacao Flavored Rum, one of the surprise items of the year. Natural tasting because it is. A pleasing canvas for obvious cream and dessert cocktails (Espresso Martini) but also intriguing in more savory applications as in Negroni or Manhattan-style recipes.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
Diplomatico

Patrick Pistoles, mixologist at NIO Cocktails in Milan, Italy

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $39.99

Why This Rum?

With South American origins, its ingredients derive from those flavors we can call “dark”, such as coconut, vanilla, sugar cane, coffee, that immediately launch into the fascinating world of South America. Between the hidden craftsmanship and the carefree festivity of those places, where moments of great celebration involve political and social spheres and customs with strong flavors on the palate as well as in the soul. An underrated rum that fits all of these criteria is Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.

KoHana White Rum

Ko Hana White Rum
Ko Hana

Eric “ET” Tecosky, founder of Dirty Sue in Los Angeles

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

Why This Rum?

Ko Hana is my pick. When it comes to underrated rum, I think the white rum category fits the bill. Because of our love for American Whiskey, I kind of think people started reaching for darker, aged rums with the qualifier, ‘If you love Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey, you will love this rum’. Well, what if I just love rum too? Sure, aged, dark rums are delicious, but we can’t discount the category of white rum. Truth be told, I love a well-made Piña Colada and the rum I find outstanding for that cocktail is Ko Hana white rum. I recently grabbed a bottle at a wedding in Hawaii. It has a great depth of flavor and an almost tropical fruit note that make it the perfect rum to add to my blender (which became a very popular late-night spot that weekend).

Foursquare Sovereignty

Foursquare Sovereignty
Foursquare

Dr. Nicola Nice, founder and CEO at Pomp & Whimsy in Los Angeles

ABV: 62%

Average Price: $99

Why This Rum?

My husband and I recently came back from a trip to Barbados and came back with a bottle of Foursquare ‘Sovereignty’, which is their 2021 release from the Exceptional Cask series and a blend of two single blended 14-year rums (one matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, the other in Bourbon/Sherry). Clearly, we’ve come late to the Foursquare party but were completely blown away by this rum. It gives some of the best Scotches and single malt whiskies a serious run for their money. Its flavors are richly soaked with sumptuous dark fruit, toasted nuts, and caramel, with a complex underbelly of tobacco and dark chocolate, and an understated overlay baking spice. A highly underrated rum.

Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple

Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple
Stiggins’

Melissa Katrincic, founder of Conniption Gin in Durham, North Carolina

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

Why This Rum?

Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum hits all the right points of a flavored rum for me. This has crème Brulee-like pineapple flavor. Authentic flavors are key (nothing artificial here) and this one covers all the bases. Is it sacrilegious to say this makes a really amazing Mai Tai? There’s no doubt that this is one of the most underrated rums on the market.

St. Lucia Chairman’s Reserve

St. Lucia Chairman's Reserve
St. Lucia

Fred Minnick, author and spirits expert in Louisville, Kentucky

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $43

Why This Rum?

St. Lucia Chairman’s Reserve is amazing for the money. It packs a great deal of molasses, brown sugar, and fruit flavors in a complex way. Before Foursquare took off, you could see rum fans valuing the brand in much the same way rum fans do St. Lucia‘s Chairman’s Reserve. It’s only a matter of time before this brand bleeds into the bourbon and Armagnac scenes in the sipper’s rotation.

SelvaRey White Rum

SelvaRey White Rum
SelvaRey

Josh MIller, co-founder of Owen’s Craft Mixers in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32

Why This Rum?

I recently tried SelvaRey Rum. The white rum is fantastic with notes of vanilla, pineapple, coconut, and light citrus flavors that work well neat or mixed into a cocktail. This is a rum more drinkers should know about. To add to that, SelvaRey also has some other unique flavor offerings like chocolate and coconut-flavored rums.

Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum

Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum
Smith & Cross

Rob Masters, head distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver

ABV: 57%

Average Price: $34.99

Why This Rum?

I’m not sure Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum is the most underrated rum brand in the world, maybe outside the bar world it is. But man, I love the consistent funk, dried fruits, vanilla, and caramel flavors in that rum. It makes the best daiquiri and will stand up in an eight-ingredient tiki drink. It’s a popular rum among the bar community but definitely deserves a little more attention from the general rum-drinking world.

Appleton Estate 8 Reserve

Appleton Estate 8 Reserve
Appleton Estate

Nora Ganley-Roper, co-founder of Lost Lantern in Weybridge, Vermont

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $33

Why This Rum?

Appleton Estate 8 Reserve. We don’t have access to a wide range of rums in Vermont (yet) so we generally have this on hand for a wide range of cocktails. It plays well with ginger beer and it can create a really tropical frozen daiquiri. One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to throw whatever fruit is in season into a blender to make simple but special frozen daiquiris (cruise ship cliches be damned). What we like about this rum is that it has some dominant tropical fruit notes (banana, mango, etc.) while also having enough oak spice to stand up to some sweeter ingredients.

Montanya Rum Exclusiva

Montanya Rum Exclusiva
Montanya Rum

Jason Barrett, founder and master distiller at Black Button Distilling in Rochester, New York

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $56.99

Why This Rum?

Montanya Rum Exclusiva is highly underrated. If a whiskey drinker is going to go for a rum, it has to have all the complexity of a good sipper. What flavors make it great? It’s sweet but not too sweet, it’s oak and vanilla and cinnamon swirling around and pulling you in to take another sip. A great rum for whiskey drinkers.

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