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Best rum 2023: The finest white, dark, spiced, Navy and flavoured rum

No matter how you like your rum, these quality tipples won't do you wrong

Looking for the best rum to sip neat or enjoy in a cocktail? Then you’ve come to the right place because we’ve searched high and low to find some of the most delicious and unique tasting rums available right now.

What was once seen as the unrefined tipple of salty sailors is now one of the UK’s most-loved spirits. Whether you take it neat, on the rocks or mixed in a cocktail, there are plenty of sexy, swashbuckling rums to pick from – ranging from light and crisp white rums (for the perfect mojito) right through to rich, dark and spicy numbers.

But where to start? Our roundup comes with a bounty of aromas and flavours to get your pirate-like paws on and many are more affordable than you might think.

Best rum: At a glance

How to choose the best rum for you

How is rum made?

Rum is loosely defined as any spirit made from sugar – either cane juice or molasses (a byproduct of sugar production). In practice, the vast majority is made from molasses, with golden and darker rums aged in oak to develop their unique characteristics. Most rum production happens in the Caribbean and Latin America, but it’s made right across the world – in Scotland, Thailand, USA, New Zealand, India and Mauritius, just to name a few.

Does all rum have a similar taste?

Just as with whisky, the flavour can vary considerably, based on a wide range of factors – from the raw ingredients used to local methods of production and ageing. In Jamaica, for instance, pot stills typically produce golden and darker rums, while in Cuba columns are usually used to create a lighter spirit.

How much can I spend on a bottle of rum?

There’s a huge range of prices too, from affordable bottles costing under 20 quid right up to exclusive rums that cost hundreds of pounds.

What types of rum are there?

For cocktails, Bacardi-style white rum is a favourite. It’s generally light and crisp, although it can be more pungent. It’s typically un-aged, but it can be matured and then charcoal filtered to remove the colour.

At the other end of the scale, dark rum is aged in oak, for big bold flavours and spicy notes. If it’s not left in for so long, it may be sold as golden rum – a slightly lighter recipe, but still with intense flavours.

Then there’s Navy rum, a dark tipple that’s typically a blend of light column still, pot still and heavier, sweet demerara rum. This tends to be very strong. Back in the day, Royal Navy crews were issued a daily tot of rum with an alcohol content of at least 57% ABV, and that remains the benchmark.

Finally, there’s spiced rum, which – as the name suggests – is made by adding various spices to a golden rum base.

How should you drink rum?

Generally speaking, the white and golden rums are best for cocktails – daiquiris, mojitos, dark and stormy, to name but a few. Darker, more aged bottles lend themselves more to sipping. Spiced rums, once dismissed by purists, are also gaining popularity: originally created to mask the taste of cheap grog, they’re increasingly used to add a kick to cocktails, or sipped neat.

Is super premium rum the best you can buy?

No. Phrases like ‘super premium’ actually don’t hold weight – it’s mere marketing jargon. Find the best rum for you by doing your own research into different types of rum and then following independent reviews.

How we test rum

We have a rigorous testing process for choosing the best rums for our roundup. We first test every rum that comes through our door as a neat drink – if you’re looking for a rum to sip, you want to be sure it’s top quality. We assess whether it meets the maker’s description and tasting notes and consider whether it has the classic flavour profile you would expect for the type of rum it is (dark, white, spiced etc.). Following the independent test, we try each rum with its most common mixers in order to assess its quality in a long drink. We’ll also note any new flavours that might make themselves known.

After testing each rum with a trusted mixer, we put them to the test in a classic cocktail. Most types of rum work as an excellent base for a cocktail, which is why we test to see how well they can hold their own when combined with other ingredients. We’re looking for new flavours, whether the rum still shines through or whether it blends harmoniously into the background. Once we’ve run our primary tests, we focus on value for money by comparing each pick with similar products.

READ NEXT: Our favourite gins for the perfect G&T

The best rums you can buy in 2023

1. Lyme Bay Winery Jack Ratt Lugger Rum: Best spiced rum

Price when reviewed: £37 | Check price at Master of MaltBoth sumptuously smooth and intriguingly spicy, this dark rum from Lyme Bay Winery is truly something special. The heady mix of nutmeg, orange peel, cloves and vanilla immediately hits you as you take a sip and makes it a fabulous tipple to enjoy neat or with a little ice. If you prefer a longer drink, the strong flavours of this rum also work well alongside cola or ginger beer, though we reckon it would suit a spicy cocktail too.

Luggers won a gold award at the 2019 International Spirits Challenge in the flavoured or spiced category, and once you try it, you’ll understand why. If you’re a fan of slightly sweet, yet incredibly complex rums, this deserves a place in your drinks cabinet. It’s like drinking Christmas, except it’s as enjoyable in the sun as it is on a cold night.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Caribbean

2. Chairman’s Reserve Spiced: Best budget spiced rum

Price when reviewed: £26 | Check price at AmazonChairman’s Reserve has everything you want from a spiced rum. It’s bursting with punchy flavours such as nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and clove and is rich with raisin, orange and tropical fruits on the palette. Its silky-smooth texture is perfect for sipping on its own, but we also love it in a Dark and Stormy.

All this flavour comes from its traditional distilling process. It’s distilled and aged in ex-bourbon barrels, then rested for another six months in oak, where fruit and spices are added. We think this is delicious on its own with some ice, but it also makes a great base for a variety of classic rum cocktails.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: ‎Saint Lucia

3. Mount Gay Black Barrel: Best golden rum

Price when reviewed: £37 | Check price at AmazonFancy basking in a Barbados sunset? It’s easy to visualise when you’re sipping this beauty; the most sophisticated addition to the Mount Gay range of rums. It’s aged in heavily-charred bourbon barrels, which gives a toasty and creamy vanilla edge, so you get a wonderful warming hit of spice followed by a long, slightly sweeter finish.

It slips down beautifully when drunk neat – or, mix it with ginger beer and lime wedges for a great Blackstorm. It works well for a Manhattan too, with 50ml rum and 25ml dry Vermouth, along with orange bitters and peel.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 43%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Barbados

4. Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum: Best white rum

Price when reviewed: £21 | Check price at Master of Malt

Mojitos and Daiquiris don’t get any better than this. Distilled from molasses and aged for three years in Cuba, this white rum is ultra-smooth and light, with hints of vanilla, smoked oak, almond, pears and banana.

It’s by far the most popular rum in Havana city, and the largest brand of rum in Cuba, but its appeal is global: it was a gold-medal winner at the International Spirits Challenge 2018, and can be found behind decent bars worldwide. Without a trace of the harshness of many other white rums, it knocks the socks off the more bland, mass-produced likes of Bacardi.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Cuba

Check price at Master of Malt

5. Rockstar Banana Bomb: Best fruit flavoured rum

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at AmazonThis one-of-a-kind rum mixes natural ripe banana with a hint of sweet caramel and spice, for a truly delicious tipple that’s perfect over ice or in cocktails. Fairtrade rum from Panama is aged in oak, bourbon casks for two years, before being bottled at a whopping 57% ABV.

The end result packs a delightfully boozy punch, while still being delectably sweet and smooth. All in all, It’s a great fruity addition to your drinks cabinet and a must-have for summer cocktails.

If one fruit rum isn’t enough for you though, we also rate Rockstar’s overproofed Pineapple Grenade rum. Made with natural pineapple flavouring and a touch of salted caramel, it’s an equally delicious tipple for pineapple fans.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 57%; Bottle size: 50cl; Country of origin: Panama

6. Wood’s 100 Navy Rum: Best Navy-strength rum

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at AmazonIf ever a rum had a seafaring swagger, it’s this one. At 57% ABV, it’s got serious punch, and it’s still made to the original Navy recipe from 1887, blending three different rums – one from a 250-year-old still (the only single wooden pot still in the world) – before being aged for three years in oak barrels in Scotland. It’s smoother and more mellow than other Navy rums, and the toffee and brown sugar flavours and hard-hitting spice lend themselves to drinking just as the sailors used to – straight down the hatch. Of course, you can also mix it: however you take it, it’s in a class of its own and packed with character.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 57%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Guyana

7. Angostura 1919: Best sweet rum

Price when reviewed: £34 | Check price at AmazonThis golden-hued rum is a blend of white and dark sugar bases which have been aged for five years in sherry barrels. The result is a soft, light, sweet rum that’s fabulously smooth and not too heavy, boasting notes of oak, cocoa and vanilla, and with a particularly pleasant long finish. It’s a great sipping rum if you’re looking for something on the delicate side, but be warned it can get overpowered by mixers or lost in cocktails: enjoy it neat or with ice.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Trinidad & Tobago

8. Finders Oak Aged Chocolate & Coffee Spiced Rum: Best chocolate flavoured rum

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Master of MaltIf you’re looking for a flavoured rum that’s both very reasonably priced and exceptionally tasty, this is it. Unlike many flavoured rums, this particular drink isn’t at all sweet or sickly. There are hints of brown sugar but there’s certainly nothing artificial about it. On its own, it’s wonderfully complex with the chocolate, coffee and subtle spices all coming through. We think this tastes fantastic as is, in a chilled glass with a bit of ice, but it also adds something special to a classic rum and cola.

If you want to venture out into the world of spiced rums but don’t want to blow your budget on something you might not even enjoy, we highly recommend giving this a go. Even the most passionate coffee-haters will enjoy this delightful rum.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: UK

Check price at Master of Malt

9. Black Tears: Best Cuban rum

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at AmazonBlack Tears became the first-ever dry spiced Cuban rum to hit the drinks market in 2019 and given how tasty it is, it’s surprising it took so long to make its way into our glasses. Named after a famous Cuban song ‘Lagrimas Negras’, it has a molasses base and is spiced with cacao, coffee and aji dulce, a variety of sweet pepper found in Cuba.

Coffee is the most prominent aroma and was the most noticeable flavour on our palate but the trio of spices complement each other supremely well. The combination results in a smooth, bittersweet rum that’s enjoyable to drink on its own but truly shines when used as the centrepiece of a cocktail or long drink. And what’s more, like many Cuban rums, it has a low sugar content, which is only ever a bad thing if you’ve got a set of sweet teeth!

Key specs – Alcohol content: 40%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Cuba

10. El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve Rum: Best luxury sipping rum

Price when reviewed: £56 | Check price at AmazonThis vibrant, full-bodied and complex flavoured sipping rum, from the banks of the Demerara river in Guyana, is something special. El Dorado – widely acknowledged as one of the best rum producers in the world – uses an ancient wooden still to produce this beauty, which boasts aromas of syrup, candied peel and cinnamon, with a taste that incorporates everything from dried fruits to honey and from gingerbread to oak, with a long lingering finish.

It’s exceptionally smooth and well-balanced and a real showcase for the delectable, complex drink that rum can be. No wonder it collected the Wray & Nephew Trophy for Best Rum in the World at the International Wine & Spirits Challenge – for an unbeaten four years running.

Key specs – Alcohol content: 43%; Bottle size: 70cl; Country of origin: Guyana

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