The daiquiri has a bit of an image problem. The name “daiquiri” conjures up neon-hued, frozen, teeth-achingly sweet party drinks. But the actual daiquiri isn’t frozen at all. It’s a simple, fresh, subtly sweet, and tart cocktail featuring the simple ingredients of white rum, lime juice, and sugar. That’s just about it. The ingredients all work together so harmoniously that you don’t need it to be frozen or filled with strawberries or other fruits to be enjoyable.
Since there are still a few weeks left in summer to enjoy a daiquiri, I figured the time was right to mix white rums into daiquiris and do another blind taste test. For this round, I used fellow Uproxx writer Zach Johnston’s simple, perfect daiquiri recipe.
- 2-oz. white rum
- 1-oz. fresh lime juice
- 0.5-oz. sugar cane syrup
- Lime peel
Part 1: The Taste
Sure, we could blindly taste white rums and it would be pretty exciting and interesting — all well and good if you’re planning to drink them neat. But if you want to mix them, you need to sample them mixed into a cocktail. That’s exactly what I did.
I picked eight reasonably-priced, well-known bottles for the base. Then I nosed and tasted each one mixed into its own daiquiri to determine which is actually the best for this classic mixed drink.
- Probitas Rum
- Bacardi Superior White Rum
- Don Q Cristal Rum
- Banks 5 Island Rum
- Captain Morgan White Rum
- Diplomatico Planas Rum
- Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
- Privateer Silver Rum
Here we go!
The nose has a slight alcohol kick that’s actually fairly pleasing and warming. This is followed by caramel, vanilla beans, sugarcane, and nice dried fruits. Taking a sip brought me more sugary sweetness, light tropical fruits, and vanilla. This is a simple, light rum that allows the flavors of the daiquiri to shine.
Complex aromas of caramelized sugar, toasted marshmallows, maple syrup, lime zest, and sweet, tropical fruits are prevalent on the nose. On the palate, I found notes of molasses as well as lime, lemon zest, and tangerine flavors that add an extra zing to the cocktail.
If you told me this daiquiri was made with vodka, I’d believe you. The aromas are sweet, but I couldn’t discern any particular flavors at all. Sipping the drink, on top of lime juice and sugary sweetness, revealed slight coconut, brown sugar, and maybe a little cinnamon.
It barely tasted like rum at all.
Like many of the expressions sampled today, the nose is fairly high in alcohol scents. But it quickly goes into notes of cinnamon, cloves, citrus zest, and butterscotch. The palate is highlighted by a slight, pleasing smoky flavor as well as vanilla, caramel, and a funky fruity flavor that pairs well with lime juice.
A lot was going on with this cocktail’s nose. But the biggest scent was of alcohol itself. You can tell from one sniff that this is a potent, high-proof rum. It was dominated by molasses, a nutty sweetness, and a light funk as well as the notable lime. Sipping this one proved me right — the citrus sweetness opened up to brown sugar, tree nuts, and a long, lingering warming sensation that was actually a little stronger than I enjoy.
The rum in this daiquiri has light aromas of ripe pineapple and sugarcane juice that melds well with the citrus element. Sadly, that was all I smelled. The palate is slightly funky with more sugary sweetness and caramel, but not much else.
Overall, this is a fairly bland base for a daiquiri.
Nosing this cocktail reveals earthy, slightly funky, fruity aromas that pair well with the other ingredients. Sipping it brought forth hints of vanilla beans, caramelized pineapple, and slight clove. All the flavors work in unison with the sugar and lime juice.
This rum gives the daiquiri a really funky, earthy smell with hints of brown sugar, molasses, and a slight fruitiness. The palate is more of the same with more fruitiness that pairs well with the sugar and citrus as well as a nice hint of vanilla and sugarcane juice.
Overall, a decent mixer with complementary flavors.
Part 2: The Ranking
I love a good blind taste test. Usually, I sample a whiskey, rum, vodka, or other spirits neat. But there’s something extra intriguing about a blind taste test with the spirit already mixed into a cocktail. There’s guaranteed to be surprises galore. Keep reading to see how they stacked up.
8) Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum (Taste 5)
Average Price: $25
I added this rum as kind of a wild card. It’s a completely ridiculous 126 proof. But it’s the best-selling high-proof white rum in the world for a reason. Even with its high ABV, it’s still flavorful and stands up as the base of a cocktail (especially a daiquiri) without getting lost in the shuffle.
This rum is potent, to say the least. I felt like, if I wanted to actually enjoy my drink, I should have added half as much rum. It was dominated by high alcohol heat.
7) Captain Morgan White Rum (Taste 3)
Average Price: $15
There are few rums more well-known than Captain Morgan. Even if you’ve never tried it, you’ve seen commercials and advertisements featuring the iconic captain lifting his leg. The brand’s flagship white rum was distilled five times using molasses made from sugarcane. It’s known for its smooth, mixable flavor.
This is the lowest level of rum flavor while still being a rum. It’s clear this expression was created solely to be mixed with in order to hide the fact that there is little to no flavor whatsoever.
6) Probitas Rum (Taste 6)
Average Price: $29
Probitas was created to be used as a base for cocktails. It’s a collaboration between two Caribbean distilleries (Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica) to produce a blended white rum. It’s distilled, aged, and bottled in the islands and is sweet, mixable, and well-suited as the base of a classic daiquiri.
While not a terrible rum by any means, there just wasn’t anything exciting and flavorful about this expression. It’s not something I plan to mix with in the future.
5) Banks 5 Island Rum (Taste 8)
Average Price: $32
Banks 5 Island Rum is exactly what you expect it to be. It’s a blend of rums from five different distilleries located in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana. They are touted to be aged between three and twelves years before being filtered in order to remove color and make it a highly flavorful white rum.
While this is definitely a good daiquiri base with multiple flavors that compliment the other ingredients, it would rank higher if they were a little more pronounced.
4) Privateer New England White Rum (Taste 7)
Average Price: $28
You might not think of New England when you think of rum, but after one sip of Privateer New England White Rum, maybe you will. Made with 100% single-origin molasses from Guatemala, it’s not only a highly flavorful rum but the distillery is committed to sustainability and environmental policies.
This is an exceptional mixing rum. It’s not complicated at all, but the flavors of vanilla and various fruits are great companions to the citrus tang of the daiquiri’s other ingredients.
3) Bacardi Superior White Rum (Taste 1)
Average Price: $15
Bacardi means rum. And this expression has earned the title of “Superior” because it’s been in production since 1862. That’s an awfully long time to guarantee a well-made, white rum perfect for mixing into your favorite cocktails. It works well in mojitos but shines in daiquiris.
There’s a fine line between being light and bland. This rum straddles that line perfectly. It has enough flavor to work well in a cocktail, but not enough to take away from the drink.
2) Diplomatico Planas Rum (Taste 2)
Average Price: $29
Diplomatico has made a name for itself in the rum world in the last decade. The Venezuela-based distillery’s Planas is a white rum that’s been aged up to six years. It’s known for its mellow, fruity, creamy flavor that works just as well as a sipper as a mixer.
Fans of the citrus element of the daiquiri will be delighted by the lemon rind and citrus zest flavors that this rum adds to the cocktail. It makes a total citrus bomb of a daiquiri.
1) Don Q Cristal Rum (Taste 4)
Average Price: $13.99
If you don’t know a lot about white rums, you might assume they are added directly into the bottle without any aging. But Don Q Cristal was aged from 1.5 to 5 years in American oak barrels in an effort to mellow out the flavors and make it a great sipping or mixing rum.
Overall, this is a dry, flavorful, slightly funky, and fruity rum that ticks all the boxes of a great mixer. It’ll be hard to beat.
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