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The 16 Best Rums That Make the Case for Sipping

 

Daiquiris are great, but these rums are so good they deserve to be enjoyed on their own.

best rum brands for sipping
DESIGNED BY MICHAEL STILLWELL
 
MAR 22, 2018
1.6k
 
 
 

"The rum explosion has been massive, especially over the last few years," says Kenneth McCoy of the Rum House in Manhattan. "And what’s happening in Cuba at the moment is just going to catapult it into the mainstream."

According to a recent Nielsen Data report, the ultra-premium rum category is already showing approximately 10-percent growth, and McCoy says he believes rum is "going to be the next big spirit, following along the train of whiskey." (If you need evidence of whiskey's dominance, look no further than the upcoming release of a 25-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.)

So grab a few of these bottles, and see for yourself why rum is poised to become the next liquor to appeal to sippers worldwide.

1Diplomatico
 

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AUCTIONS AMERICA

BUY NOW From $25.99

The Reserva Exclusiva from Diplomatico is distilled in copper pot stills and aged for 12 years, and it's considered among the best Venezuelan rums. Its banana flavors are prominent, but with ice McCoy says the rum "comes alive with subtle spice, dry vanilla, and smooth chocolate."

2Flor De Caña 18-Year-Old
 

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FLOR DE CAÑA

BUY NOW From $38.99

"Sugarcane Flower" as it's translated, Flor de Caña is extremely affordable, even in its older expressions, Jesse Vida, bar manager at New York's rum-focused BlackTail, says. Sippers should prepare for what McCoy calls "a rich, lush rum with notes of banana, caramel, and sex. Add a cube and watch the world go by in hues of dried fruit, vanilla, and cinnamon." He describes this 18-year-old Nicaraguan rum as "truly outstanding."

3Santa Teresa 1796
 

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COURTESY

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This Venezuelan rum is aged in the solera process made famous by sherry producers in Jerez, Spain. Santa Teresa 1796 is the first premium añejo rum in the world to be aged using this method. "It's beautiful and balanced, with dark wood on the nose, and subtle honey and leather on the palate," Vida says.

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4Parce
 

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COURTESY

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This 12-year-old Colombian rum has "a lot of wood right off the nose, and caramel from its bourbon barrel aging," McCoy says. "Add some ice and start to detect a subtle sweetness and spice."

5The Real McCoy
 

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COURTESY

BUY NOW From $29.48

"I couldn't leave my namesake out of it," McCoy says. The 12-year-old rum from Barbados is "exceptionally smooth and lush, and you can taste hints of bourbon, dried spice, and banana." With a cube of ice or a cigar, the hooch becomes even more of a pleasure to drink.

6Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum
 

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BUY NOW $61.28

Another rum from Barbados, this vintage was a secret blend that was created to celebrate Alexandre Gabriel's 20th anniversary as master blender. After starting its aging process in its home country, the rum was further aged in Cognac—in casks that originally held Pierre Ferrand cognac. It's an easy-drinking rum, with notes of caramel, vanilla, dried spice, and banana.

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7Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar
 

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BUY NOW $48.77

In order to make what's been called one of the smoothest rums on the market, Brugal, in the Dominican Republic, double-distills and double-matures this liquid in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels and then first-fill Spanish sherry oak casks. The resulting blend of rums from four to 14 years old has candied apricot on the nose along with dried fruits and vanilla. "It's a very dry rum, which would suggest there's no dosage [added sugar], unlike the vast majority of rums on the market," Vida says. "The strong oak presence results in a tannic dryness and a slightly grassy, bright finish."

8Mount Gay Extra Old Rum
 

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BUY NOW $45.79

Everyone knows Mount Gay—and its famous red hats—but this XO version is far from standard. It's a blend of rums from 8 to 15 years old, and McCoy recommends adding a cube of ice to bring out its "dry banana sweetness, light spice, and complexity." (Mount Gay also recently released the latest edition of its 1703 Master Select blend, which has up to 30-year-old rum in it, but good luck tracking down one of the $150 limited-edition bottles.)

9El Dorado 1988 25-Year-Old
 

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COURTESY

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A very limited offering, this 25-year-old bottling from Guyana was distilled in 1988 and created to mark the turn of the millennium. It's rich and viscous yet smooth, with notes of tropical spice, coffee, and fig. This might be a given considering the price, but McCoy points out that this is best for "take your time catching up with an old friend type of drinking."

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10Ron Zacapa XO
 

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COURTESY

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This blend of Guatemalan rums from 6 years to 25 years old is made with virgin sugar cane honey (instead of molasses, like most rums) to impart a smoother texture. It's then aged in French oak barrels that previously held cognac and is best served neat or over one ice cube to bring out flavors of toasted wood, spice, and dried fruits.

11Clément
 

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COURTESY

BUY NOW Clément VSOP, $48.77 

Rhum Agricole is the term for a special type of liquor made in the French West Indies using fresh sugar-cane juice instead of molasses (the Brazilian spirit cachaça is also made from sugar-cane juice, but the production methods are not the same). They're known for being potent, but Vida says this XO with a nose of "savory grass and dusty orange and vanilla" is "on the softer side of funky intensity," making it "a very approachable option into the world of aged rhums agricoles from Martinique."

12Appleton Estate
 

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APPLETON ESTATE

BUY NOW $178.65

"This is a true sipping rum," McCoy says. The Jamaican-based Appleton Estate uses a blend of rums, each at least 21 years old, to create this flagship offering (the distillery also produces a limited-edition 50-year-old rum and a new blend to commemorate Joy Spence's 20th anniversary as its master blender). The 21-year-old Jamaican juice has aromas of orange peel, cocoa, and coffee, and shows its complexity best with a bit of ice or water, McCoy says.

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13Havana Club's Añejo 7 Años
 

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WIKIMEDIA

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When President Obama lifted the restrictions on bringing Cuban products back to the United States last year, Cuban rum fans rejoiced. There are many options to choose from (take a look here for a slew of suggestions), but McCoy says if he had to choose one it would be Havana Club's Añejo 7 Años. "It's a gorgeous rum all by itself—no ice needed—with notes of rich, dark wood, tobacco and honey," he says. For the full experience, McCoy suggests pairing it with a Cuban cigar.

14Samaroli
 

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OAK & BARREL

BUY NOW Samaroli Demerara Rum 1990, $359.05

"Any time you can get your hands on a bottle from Samaroli it's well worth it," McCoy says. The company was established as an independent bottler of Scotch whisky in 1968 and soon began bottling rums as well. This Demerara Dark Rum 1990 was distilled in Fiji before getting bottled and aged in Scotland. "It's like opening a buried treasure of rich spices and caramel—simply delicious," McCoy says.

15Navazos Palazzi Cask Strength
 

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COURTESY

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This Spanish rum is "well worth the money," McCoy says, given its notes of "deep, rich leather, spice, and dried fruits." Distilled in the Antilles, it was aged in first-fill bourbon barrels for five years before moving to Oloroso sherry casks for more than 10 additional years. McCoy says "this is like drinking from the grail holy grail."

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16Caroni 2000
 

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COURTESY

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"At 110, this pops off in your mouth like a firecracker," McCoy says, "but don’t let that sway you. Every time I tasted it I got something else, big tobacco, burnt licorice, even spearmint off the nose,
and a super dry finish." The Trinidad distillery shut down in 2003, so these bottles are very rare. "Please don’t add ice—yimage.gif.d38f72ae8d0b6b0a5dc59610bbd7ac2d.gifimage.gif.89714669169ee9a261429f4a923270ba.gifimage.gif.ccdc7ea090c9d1ce40c00cf9c021b681.gif

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Older (in terms of years ago, not age of the spirit) Demerara releases seem to be the rage right now in spirits circles in the U.S., especially the Demerara Distillers Ltd independent bottlings.

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“notes of banana, caramel, and sex..”

Now that’s a rum!!

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The world of sipping rum is totally new for me. The only two I’ve had on this list are the diplomatico and the mt ***. I’ll have to check some more of these out. Thanks Ken!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Thanks for posting, Ken.  On your advice, I recently purchased a bottle of the Flor de Cana 18 Year Old, and have savored every sip.

And thanks again for the help with the wine list. 

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I could live off Diplomatico anejo reserva or El Dorado 12 and die a happy man!

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I have had  #1, 6, and 13.....all good....will have to try a few more of there....the cheaper ones!:lol:

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Hard format to follow in your post Ken. Suggest you post links e,g, https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/drinks/g9077403/best-sipping-rums/

Some good points and observations there though not quite in line with my thoughts as a seasoned rum sipper. Everyone has their own tastes and opinions.

Few I haven't had opportunity to try so thanks introducing for those!

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Ken enjoyed the article and am curious about your thoughts and choices as I am sure you have them. Also besides taste which I guess is the most important factor is there something other than that which  makes them sipping rums?

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37 minutes ago, GWG said:

Ken enjoyed the article and am curious about your thoughts and choices as I am sure you have them. Also besides taste which I guess is the most important factor is there something other than that which  makes them sipping rums?

taste, balance, texture, complexity, length. all manner of things. 

lot of terrific rums here. zacapa, mt gay, appleton, el dorado (just found a discounted bottle of the 21 so keen to try that). flor de cana. some great cubans. santiago. havana club. so many options. 

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1 hour ago, Ken Gargett said:

taste, balance, texture, complexity, length. all manner of things. 

lot of terrific rums here. zacapa, mt gay, appleton, el dorado (just found a discounted bottle of the 21 so keen to try that). flor de cana. some great cubans. santiago. havana club. so many options. 

Any more discounted 21’s Ken? Was about to buy the Appleton 25 Joy but would rather spend less. 

 

Edit: Nick’s? Just saw the awesome price, thanks Ken.

Edited by Onelove
To save Ken time

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1 hour ago, Onelove said:

Any more discounted 21’s Ken? Was about to buy the Appleton 25 Joy but would rather spend less. 

 

Edit: Nick’s? Just saw the awesome price, thanks Ken.

wasn't nick's. i looked at the price at both nicks and dans last night. both very good. would have pulled the trigger on either.

this was via the importer. but it was a short sale and finished yesterday.

also got a four square 2004 at a fantastic price. 

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