Best rums to try that taste great in cocktails or neat, from spiced to dark

·10-min read
Copalli Barrel Rested Rum    (Copalli )
Copalli Barrel Rested Rum (Copalli )

From dark to white, spiced to every infusion you could think of, there are few spirits quite as diverse as rum.

Often considered a summer spirit, enjoyed on holiday in a frozen daiquiri or piña colada, rum actually makes an equally delicious, warming winter tipple. It’s the perfect all-rounder.

This year more than any before, rum producers have created a whole host of unique offerings, perfect to test, trial and discover new blends and brands.

With beautiful bottle designs, a host of specially curated gift sets, and many brands focusing on their eco credentials, they will also make perfect presents no matter the occasion.

We’ve sipped our way through many to bring you the best rum tipples. See below for our verdict on this year’s top bottles.

Haitian Rum Clairin, Saint Benevolence

Founded by a father-son team which sends 100 per cent of its profits to its longstanding partners in Haiti, Saint Benevolence boasts an incredibly unique taste as well as a heartwarming origin story.

With a citrusy aroma, the flavour on the palette is extremely green with notes of herb and lime and a strong flavour of olive in its aftertaste. A crystal-clear white rum at 50 per cent ABV, this drink is not for the faint-hearted, but those looking for a punchy rum to drink neat, or a bold, herbaceous flavour that will remain the star in any cocktail, it may be your best bet.

Handcrafted using a blend of organically grown indigenous ingredients in the tropical climate of Saint Michel de l’Attalaye in the fields that surround the distillery, the rum is distilled using a biomass-fuelled copper pot still making it the perfect rum for those looking to give back with this year’s festive drinks or Christmas presents.

Buy now £44.99, Harvey Nichols

Flor de Cana 12 year

Aged for 12 years with no artificial ingredients, the Flor de Cana 12 year hits with a wonderfully fruity aroma, and smooth vanilla finish. Perfectly balanced in flavour, with layers of honey and warm apples, this is an extremely versatile rum - well suited to any number of drinks. Sustainably made on a family estate in Nicaragua, it is carbon neutral, Fairtrade certified and distilled with 100 per cent renewable energy. It is also sugar free, gluten free and Kosher-certified.

Buy now £35.00, Master of Malt

Salford Honey Rum

With an intense honey flavour, The Salford Honey Rum is rich, syrupy and utterly decadent. Luxuriously smooth and with a wonderful sweetness, it is made with a single origin pot and column distilled rum that is blended and bottled under two miles from the famous docks. Pairing this with real Salford honey results in a deep flavour, with undertones of caramel.

This is delicious served as is, on the rocks, or beautifully elevates cocktails.

Buy now £29.95, Master of Malt

Market Row Botanical Rum

Smooth, warming, and not overly sweet, Market Row’s Botanical Rum is a contemporary premium rum with an authentic Caribbean twist. Crafted by a micro distillery in the heart of Brixton, it blends some of the finest aged pot still rums from across Jamaica, The Dominican Republic and Barbados. Matured in ex-bourbon barrels for up to five years and infused with Kenyan black tea, Nigerian hibiscus and Asian red rose petal, the result is a unique botanical flavour of Brixton. With caramel notes, and a fresh floral finish, the bottle won silver in this year’s International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Buy now £34.00, Fortnum & Mason

Las Olas Spiced Rum

Rich and fragrant, the Las Olas Spiced Rum isn’t your standard spiced offering. Smooth, refreshing and with a hint of Christmas all spice, you can taste the fantastic blend of white rums from Barbados and Jamaica. Combined with vanilla, gold cherry and roasted coffee beans, Las Olas is celebrated by none other than London’s own Stormzy. Taking spirit from its birthplace of Barbados, Las Olas is one of the first black-owned, luxury, independent rum brands to bring a taste of the afro-Caribbean diaspora to the the UK.

Buy now £40.00, Las Olas

Montanya’s Exclusiva Rum

Montanya’s Exclusiva Rum is made in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and demonstrates superb sustainability, using local ingredients, wind powered production and certified glass for its bottle. The Exclusiva rum is finished in a Cabernet Sauvignon and Port barrel, resulting in a unique taste perfect for a twist on festive port. The flavour is packed with rich fruit and caramel, finished with a hint of honey. The liquor is velvety on the palette and deeply warming even when enjoyed on the rocks.

Buy now £49.99, Harvey Nichols

Copalli Barrel Rested Rum

Made in Belize, this organic craft rum is distilled from fresh sugarcane juice and pure canopy water from the jungles surrounding the distillery.

Aged in American oak used bourbon barrels, the result is a rich smoky aroma, with a powerful spiced flavour. Delicious served neat, Copalli also acts as a flavourful base for cocktails - especially those set out in the company’s delicious daiquiri recipe series that will help at-home mixologists mix it up this Christmas.

Copalli is a zero-impact, one-estate distillery who grow their own non-GMO, heirloom sugar cane. It is hand cut from their 3000-acre farm, so this is a rum to be enjoyed guilt-free.

Buy now £37.50, Master of Malt

BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho Rum Domino Set

Aged for eight years, the BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho rum is a premium spirit with hints of winter spice, and a gentle finish, perfect for this time of year. With a rich caramel aroma and fruity flavour, this rum is fantastic value for money. Presented for Christmas in a luxurious carved domino set, this is the perfect gift for a rum lover. Created in partnership with Caribbean artist PopCaribe and NDRJ, the Domino set and exterior carved box is a beautiful keepsake.

Buy now £75.00, Minima UK

Twin Fin Coconut and Lychee Rum

A beautifully bright white flavoured rum, Twin Fin Coconut and Lychee has a deliciously inviting fresh lychee aroma. On drinking, this turns into a surprisingly rich flavour with a crisp finish to produce a delightfully fruity and refreshing drink that will transport you away to warmer climes.

Made on the Cornish coast, Twin Fin blends two Caribbean rums - a Jamaican pot still rum and a Dominican column still rum - to craft an exotic bottle with no artificial flavours and no added sugar. This would be perfect in a lively piña colada or with fresh lemonade and lots of ice.

Buy now £25.50, Master of Malt

Kopparberg Cherry Spiced Rum

Kopparberg’s spiced cherry rum combines caramel and ginger aromas with sweet cherry to produce a rich hit of flavour. Loyal to Kopparberg’s ever drinkable range, this is perfect for a fruity cocktail or mixed with coke for a long, easy drink.

Buy now £20.00, ASDA

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum Old Fashioned Glass Set

A Venezuelan dark golden rum, the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum is rich, sweet and fruity. Distilled from molasses in a copper pot before it’s aged for up to 12 years, this award winning bottle is a classic.

Now available in a stylish gift set, complete with two heavy-bottomed Old Fashioned cocktail glasses and a bottle of the good stuff - this is an undeniably tasty gift choice.

Buy now £49.95, The Whiskey Exchange

Pirate’s Grog - Honey Spiced Rum Chest

A perfect drink for chilly winter nights, Pirate’s Grog Honey Spiced Rum is superbly smooth and warming. Using the finest ethically sourced pure honey from The Honeybee Man, and infused with an array of spices, this five year aged golden rum is a soothing drink.

It is available in a bespoke laser engraved wooden treasure chest that will make this stylish bottle a wonderful gift.

Buy now £54.00, NOTHS

Takamaka Dark Spiced Rum

Produced in the Seychelles, Takamaka is a family-owned rum, founded almost twenty years ago by two brothers who followed their passion and family heritage to create and develop their own recipe.

Distilled at Le Plaine St Andre, a historical site dating back to 1792 which was once the epicentre of agricultural activities, Takamaka captures the unique flavours of the tropical island. Mixed with pineapple, ginger beer and some festive spices, it makes a delicious Dark ‘N’ Stormy cocktail - fragrant and refreshing - as the perfect accompaniment to an evening of festive food.

Buy now £25.89, Amazon

Uhuru Rum

The new Uhuru, XO Caribbean Golden Rum, has a rich golden appearance with hints of pineapple and mango on the nose as well as a buttery toffee fragrance. It has a soft fruity, sweet taste on the palette, with whispers of almonds and vanilla.

There are only 5,600 bottles of this released, mirroring the number of endangered black rhinos left in the world to roam free today. 10 per cent of all net proceeds from this bottle go to conservation charity Tusk to protect the black rhino population in Namibia.

Buy now £39.99, Master of Malt

Witch Kings Antimatter Coffee Rum Liquor

Witch Kings Rum is a Manchester-based spirits brand which takes white single rum from Ninefold Distillery and infuses it with a host of exciting flavours to create their striking rim liquors. The latest in the collection is the Antimatter Coffee Rum Liquor - a heavenly collaboration between Witch Kings Rum and Factory Coffee MCR.

Any fan of an espresso martini will love this as much as we did. With sweet coffee notes mellowed by the smooth rum, this leaves a warmth not usually associated with such cocktails, which makes it eminently drinkable just as it comes.

Buy now £25.00, Master of Malt

Discarded Banana Peel Rum

Made by infusing otherwise wasted banana peels from a local flavour house with Caribbean rum, Discarded’s Banana Peel Rum is like no other I’ve tasted before.

Discarded specialises in giving a second life to waste ingredients and produces all their spirits in 100 per cent recyclable packaging. The end result produces an utterly unique, sustainable spirit with a strong banana aroma.

More subtle in the taste, the rum is fruity, but rich and comes recommended for use in a vegan banana eggnog recipe if you’re feeling adventurous.

Buy now £30.00, Amazon

Don Papa Port Casks

Created in the Philippines, Don Papa’s limited-edition port cask rum was created to commemorate the quincentenary of the earth’s first circumnavigation, which led to the landing of the Spanish in the Philippines.

Aged for two years in ex-bourbon casks, the rum is then aged for an additional five years in ruby-hued port casks, resulting in a dark, spicy spirit with lingering fruitiness and warmth. This rum is rich, flavoursome and packs a punch.

Buy now £70.00, Master of Malt

Verdict

For its entirely unique flavour profile, my top pick is the Haitain Rum Clairin, Saint Benevolence. The instantly identifiable fresh aromas of this rum are matched only by the deeply satisfying, complex taste.

With at least five notes to be picked out on every sip, this rum has you heading back for more out of pure intrigue. And that’s not even to mention the incredibly fresh olive-like aftertaste which whisks you to tropical climes in an instant.

Pair that with the extremely impressive commitment to give back to the tropical island of its origin, and you have the ultimate feel-good indulgence.

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