Rum doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, it’s enjoyed frequently in a daiquiri, colada, or dark and stormy, but the right kind of the beloved pirate spirit can be a phenomenal spirit, rich, delicious and full of nuance just like whiskey or cognac. Of course, there is quite a bit of the rot gut variety out there. But there is also a ton of lovingly crafted juice to enjoy. While your first instinct, one that’s been engrained in your brain by an eye-patch-wearing, drunken captain, might be to fuse it with a Coca-Cola or shake it into a tasty daiquiri, a truly excellent bottle transcends the typical banal cocktails.
Some rums are meant to be sipped like a well-aged brown spirit. and if you’re ready to start yours neat or with just a cube of ice, here are six to try.
Appleton Estate 12 Year
A great intro bottle at an affordable price point, Appleton Estate’s 12-year-old rum is a brilliant sipper. This blend of Jamaican vintages aged in American oak for at least a dozen years giving every drop wonderful notes of vanilla, brown sugar and spice with a hint of citrus.\
Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum
Sure, when you think Goslings you probably imagine a perfect Dark and Stormy – likely because they trademarked the name. And while the Bermuda based brand’s Family Reserve Old Rum would certainly make an excellent cocktail, we prefer it neat. It’s a sumptuous glass, thick with molasses, cherries, wood, spice and a touch of tobacco.
Don Papa 7 Year Rum
Since it wasn’t available in the USA until a few short years ago, Don Papa flew well under the radar in the States – a quiet ‘handshake’ between knowing rum fans. Handcrafted on the Philippine island of Negros, this rum is distilled using Negros sugar cane, which the brand claims is sweeter than other varieties, the spirit is then aged in ex-bourbon casks for at least 7 years and blends the results into a tasty, candy-sweet delight, rich with vanilla, fruit and honey.
Flor de Caña 18 Centenario Gold Rum
They’ve been making rum at the base of the San Cristobal volcano, in the northwest region of Nicaragua since 1890 – well before the widespread use of electricity. But almost 130 years later Flor de Cana’s rums are distilled with 100 percent renewable energy and, the 120,000 tons of CO² created during fermentation gets captured, purified and used to make soft drinks. While the distillery may have gone green, the only color rum drinkers should be considering is gold. Flor de Caña 18 Centenario Gold Rum is a decadent mouthful, with luscious caramel notes, a thumping vanilla, a touch of nutmeg and pleasant oak rounding out a glass.
Ron Zacapa XO Solera Gran Reserva Especial Rum
With sugar grown on volcanic plateau in Guatemala about 7,500 feet above sea level, Ron Zacapa uses first press cane juice and a pineapple yeast to make their rums.The brand’s XO Solera Gran Reserva Especial Rum is simply sublime, with the sweetness of cherries, chocolate, and dates balanced against wood and more than a whiff of smoke.
Goslings Papa Seal Single Barrel Bermuda Rum
While it’s a bit of unicorn, Goslings Papa Seal Single Barrel is not impossible to find and you should grab a bottle if you happen to come across one. The Bermuda icon only bottled 12 beautiful barrels of this extremely limited expression. Distilled from molasses, then blended and then aged for 15 years in medium char ex-bourbon barrels. It’s a mouthful rich with the flavors of spice, leather, banana, caramel, and molasses