Historically, rum is a cheap, low-end liquor. Old-school rum is really nothing more than fermented sugar-there’s not much “art” to the distillery of basic rum when compared to whiskies, for example. It’s only in recent history that a wide selection of truly high-end rums have emerged on the market.
Join me, as we explore and celebrate the greatest liquid of all time. In no particular order, here are the five best rums money can buy.
Pyrat XO Reserve
You may not have heard of this one, as it can still be hard to get in some parts of the mainland United States. Lucky for us, it’s becoming more accessible. Pyrat XO Reserve is a fairly dark rum and it makes the list for two reasons: 1) the bottle is cool as hell, and 2) it’s the best-smelling rum of all time. Rum is not traditionally a “sniffing” drink (just try sniffing a bottle of Five O’ Clock rum and check out the instant gag reflex.) But Pyrat’s delicious, complex aroma has the potential to change all of that. Oh yeah, it also tastes awesome.
Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum
Sailor Jerry is on the lighter side of dark rums, and it has to be considered one of the best for one simple reason: it’s 92 proof! Most dark rums are 70 or 80 proof. And yet, with 6 to 11% more alcohol than its competitors, Sailor Jerry tastes better. Even loaded with so much alcohol, Sailor Jerry has its own unique and delicious flavor profile–when you’re drinking Sailor Jerry, you know it’s Sailor Jerry. Plus, it’s pretty cheap-not Five O’ Clock cheap, but cheap enough.
10 Cane Rum
This fancy-pants rum is marketed as the world’s first truly premium rum. While the validity of that claim may be under question, 10 Cane’s deliciousness is most definienly not. It’s another great rum for soda mixers, and this is one you can even drink straight like a fine whiskey. 10 Cane Rum comes from Trinidad-or, as they call it, the “Kingdom of Rum.”
Don Q Crystal
Okay, okay… Don Q Crystal doesn’t actually taste that good… but it’s pretty affordable, and everybody needs a decent silver (clear) rum once in a while. (I prefer clear rums for frozen, fruity drinks like daiquiris and coladas.) Mostly, I love Don Q Crystal because it’s hilarious to me. In Puerto Rico, bartenders will push Don Q Crystal on you as if it’s the pride of Puerto Rico, as if this rum is the foundation of all Puerto Rican culture. In reality, it’s just a semi-gross clear liquor. Somehow, that hilarious enthusiasm makes it more delicious to me. Maybe I’m an alcoholic. Oh well, get a bottle of Don Q Crystal and drink it for the culture: be Puerto Rican for a day.
Zaya 12 Year
Another delicious, dark rum with a cool bottle. In comparison to Pyrat, Zaya manages to be both fruitier and harsher all at once. It has complex and surprising flavors-especially when mixed with something carbonated-but it definitely has a burn to it. All in all, another great version of the world’s greatest drink.
Well, there you have it. Five of the best rums, according to a guy who’s tasted a few. Feel free to discuss or disagree amongst yourselves–I’ll be busy getting trashed and being awesome. And remember, the best rum ever is the rum you share with a few good friends.