What is the world’s best rum? Is there one rum that can be described as the best rum in the world? Who makes the world’s finest rum? Which is the most expensive rum in the world? Which rum has won the most awards?
Since rum is produced in more than 80 countries around the world, the range of styles and variety of this spirit made from sugar cane is unmatched by other spirit categories.
Is There a “World’s Best Rum?”
Taste is subjective. Not everyone agrees on the best tasting food, the best wine, the most delicious dessert.
Many styles of rum have evolved over the past four centuries. The methods for growing cane, producing molasses and cane syrup, fermenting the liquid, distilling, aging and blending rums vary greatly in the regions of the world.
So what factors should decide the world’s best rum? Price, quality, value, rarity, acclamation?
To many rum experts, the question of the best rum in the world comes down to the perception of value. We asked some of the world’s leading rum experts to guide us toward the answer to the age-old-question: “What is the best rum in the world?”
Determining the Value Of Rum
All spirits are just liquid in a bottle.
Determination of value comes from understanding the narrative. The unique story of a spirit is based on the reputation, the legacy, the method, the origin, the presentation, the unique qualities, the purpose and the availability.
One of the leading factors for determining value at the high end of the range is scarcity. Limited Edition expressions gain extra value if they are highly desirable but not widely available.
Origin and Method
Method of production and origin are closely related factors. Rums made with legacy stills at venerable locations using less efficient or traditional methods (which cost more to produce) gain value when compared to spirits produced in vast quantities in the most efficient (least expensive) manner using modern refineries.
Legacy and Reputation
The legacy and reputation of a brand or marque enhances the value when compared to other products made by less reputable producers. An exceptional presentation or magnificent package is an overt indication of the producers intention, if not a true indicator of quality and value.
Specialty Niche Markets
Some products are designed and built for a specific purpose with unique qualities. For those that desire or require such niche products, the perceived value is enhanced if they best meet a specific need for their intended market.
Awards and Testimonials
Exceptional reviews and evaluations, awards and acclamations, testimonials and authoritative opinions lend credence and respectability to products recommended by experts in their field. Such positive (or negative) influences and considerations can spotlight exceptional spirits within a crowded field.
An insightful and thoughtful product and origin narrative often brings greater understanding and appreciation to the factors that determine value.
Ask the Rum Experts
Rum experts are constantly asked, “What is the best rum in the world? Is there a world’s best rum?” It’s a daunting question that deserves to be considered by some of the world’s most respected rum critics, reviewers and judges.
We asked a few notable rum experts to comment on this subject and compiled their results.
Robert Burr, rum collector, promoter, judge, festival organizer
Robert Burr, along with his wife Robin and son Rob V. Burr, travels the world to discover the best rums. They host the Miami Rum Fest and Trade Expo, publish Robs Rum Guide and produce short rum video reviews for the Rum Minute Channel on YouTube.
It’s getting harder to answer this question. The Best Rum In The World might be the most expensive rum, or the rarest rum. It might be the rum that costs the most to produce, or takes the longest to come of age. The World’s Best Rum could be a fleeting or ever-changing descriptor since the world of rum is constantly evolving. Back in the 1970s, I believed Barbancourt 15 year old Reserve du Domaine was the best rum in the world. Cruzan’s Single Barrel was also a top-notch aged rum. In the 1990s, Wray & Nephew 15, Mount Gay XO, Brugal Siglo de Oro, Zacapa 23 and 30 year old rums were among the very best. The problem we have now (this is a GOOD problem) is that producers are delivering a vast number of great rums, limited edition expressions, scarce vintages, single barrels, exotic blends, special cask finishes, pure single pot still rums, collections of rums and cask strength expressions. Consider yourself in the top one percent of privileged rum enthusiasts if you ever get to try Brugal’s rare Papa Andres, Appleton’s Jamaica 50th Anniversary, Barbancourt’s 150th Anniversary, Angostura’s Legacy, Mount Gay’s Barbados 50th Anniversary XO, Don Pancho’s 30 Year Limited Edition, St. James 250th Anniversary Blend, Diplomatico’s Ambassador, El Dorado 25 year old, Barcelo 30th Anniversary Imperial, Abuelo Centuria, Facundo Paraiso, Clement XO, Zafra 30 year old, Rum Arôme 28 year old, Flor de Caña 25 year old, Matusalem 23 year old, Samaroli Demerara 1972, Bristol Spirits Port Mourant Guyana 1980, Silver Seal Demerara 32 year old, Velier’s Damoiseau 1980 or Don Q’s Reserva de la Familia Serralles. – Robert Burr
Forrest Cokely, Rum and Spirits Expert
Forrest Cokely of California is a member of the International Rum Expert Panel . He is a founding (board) member / Key-holder for The Orange County Bartenders Cabinet (OCBC); is a Society of Wine Educators Certified Spirits Specialist (C.S.S.); is Bar Smarts Certified. Forrest has a blog called A Drink With Forrest.
Like all true connoisseurs “What is the best” is an intricately complex question to answer. The reason is because as a connoisseur you have tasted many wonderful rums and understand that — after a certain level of quality — which one is the best depends on the mood / atmosphere / company you’re in. So I recommend you try as many as you can and savor each one for what it is. That is the only way we’ll be able to share the Best Rum in the World. – Forrest Cokely
Javier Herrera, Rum Expert and Rum Festival Organizer
Javier Herrera is one of the leading rums experts of Spain. His Congreso Internacional del Ron Madrid and rum festival held in June in Madrid are the leading events of their type in Spain. Rum is his profession, his hobby and his passion. Javier is a judge in numerous international competitions, including the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. He is the founder of Rum International Club, a member of the Association of Sommeliers of Spain and contributor to Got Rum? magazine. Javier is a lecturer specializing in market trends in the world of spirits and rum in particular. He works as a consultant for spirit brands regarding their introduction into European markets. He develops marketing plans, events, master classes and spirits campaigns.
What is the world’s best rum? Rum is a distillate produced on five continents, therefore, it varies widely in terms of perceived quality in different countries of these continents. The best rum in the world must start from a good raw material, either molasses, cane syrup or cane juice. Then move to a fermentation to mark the character of rum we want to get, this is one of the most important to get a good rum aging in the distillation process steps form the rum will, the like this distillate and that system of columns or stills we use, give us the body of a good spirit or a bad distillate. For me, distill a cane alcohol at 95.8 percent and call it rum, is a mistake, this is a cane vodka and when aged, you’ll have a vodka aged cane. The degree of distillation it marked the master rum maker, who will reflect once aged rum, the character will have to oxidation reflected in the barrel. Humidity, temperature, type of barrel and other parameters in the cellar finished configuring a rum. There is nothing that can change these parameters and time in the barrel of rum, it is reflecting that we desired maturity by the most experienced in the world of rum consumers. Accelerating these processes can not be more than bad imitate a good rum, and the master Arroyo reflected in the early twentieth century the use of accelerant additives in different ways, what today some would have us sell as a novelty, is something that comes from the past and those shortcuts do not constitute the “Best Rum in the World”. The rum that follows the above parameters will be balanced in all respects and will be a great rum with patience and time. What I look for in a rum, no matter whether Jamaica, Cuba or Martinique, three different styles, is that balance to be a great rum. Today, the consumer takes rum, has a very sweet rum perception. If you ask consumers, they will choose this type of rum, due to its fine taste. Explaining and educating consumers about what is real rum is happening in the online world, this is unstoppable, and consumers are becoming more demanding and well informed. – Javier Herrera
Scott French, aka The Rum Trader
Scott French is a serious rum enthusiast, advocate, collector, connoisseur and journalist on a mission to discover the best rums in the world. Based in South Carolina, he’s frequently asked to judge rums in blind tasting competitions. His web site is TheRumTrader.com.
Being asked to name the ‘Best Rum in the World’ is the like being asked to name ‘The Best Meal in the World’? What makes something the best? Price? Exclusivity? Production method? Taste? Personally, the best rum in the world is the one I have yet to try. I maintain an extensive rum collection but I am always hunting for the next rum because it might be ‘The Best’. As a rum advocate, my advice to drinkers searching for ‘The Best’ is to find what is ‘The Best’ for you. Do some research, read some reviews, sample a variety of rums, determine your palate preference, and pursue the style of rum you enjoy the most. Happy hunting! – Scott French
Esteban Ordonez, Master Bartender and Rum Ambassador
An accomplished world-class, award-winning bartender and mixologist, Esteban Ordonez travels the world promoting the very best rums.
World’s Best Rum? I’m first and foremost a rum lover and and cane spirit enthusiast, and have spent the better part of my 18 year bartending career preaching the gospel of the Daiquiri. I had the pleasure of being the Don Q/Serralles rum portfolio national ambassador for over 6 years, and so when you ask “what is the best rum in the world?” Here is my answer for the 1492 time, LOL. Asking this to some one is like asking what is the best color in the world or what is the best book in the world, and no I’m not dodging the bullet, while taste and style and even provenance might be subjective to our palate, culture, race and even financial standing, quality and honesty are pretty objective to us all and equally, I love a great traditional aguardiente slightly low prof, full of anise and slightly sweetened, but that’s on Mondays see me Wednesday and I’m all about my burnt molasses and high alcohol content with crazy congeners and that’s my Jamaica/Barbados day. Fridays I usually smoke a cigar or two and then I naturally gravitate to my dryer more delicate and spice nuanced Spanish Caribbean rums. What you won’t ever find in my glass is the catchy brand of the week or flavor of the month, I try everything in order to make an informed decision but when it comes to enjoying something then is only up to me (you) to make that decision and to enjoy it, so keep drinking what ever is the best rum in your world. Just keep it rum. – Esteban Ordonez
Helena “Tiare” Olsen, A Mountain Of Crushed Ice
Award-winning rum journalist and connoisseur of fine spirits from Sweden, Helena “Tiare” Olsen is world-renowned for her expertise in fine rums and her passion for exotic cocktails. Her photographs of cocktails are among the best in the business. Her understanding of rums and exotic ingredients in perfect balance is unmatched. Tiare’s web site is A Mountain Of Crushed Ice.
The very best rums in the world are to me some of the authentic, unadulterated rums from Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada (Rivers) Haiti (Barbancourt and the Clairin variations) and French Islands agricole rums. – Tiare
Martin Cate, Rum Expert, Judge and Bar Owner
Martin Cate distinguished himself among tiki bartenders and rum enthusiasts as a judge in many international competitions. His Smuggler’s Cove rum bar in San Francisco has been named best Best American Cocktail Bar.
Well, unfortunately, when I get cornered with this question, I always say that it depends upon my mood. So I never pick one. Don’t want to change now. – Martin Cate
Ian Williams, Author and Rum Judge
Ian Williams of England is the author of “Rum: A Social & Sociable History,” and “Tequila: A Global History.” He’s also the host of Rumpundit.
World’s best rum? I am often asked this question when talking about rum and my answer, it depends on where I am, who I’m what the occasion is, who I’m with and what my intentions are! One of the joys of rum is that there is a rum for every season and mood. Rhum Barbancourt 15 year old has a special place in my affections since it was really was a pioneer for premium rum, but there are no so many it is difficult to choose, but the better Caribbean rums still claim a special place on my palate. And while to be honest I could not be sure whether it was sense of history, or sense of taste and aroma that was most excited, I would have to give top space to the 50 year old Appleton Estate Independence rum I sampled with Joy Spence. – Ian Williams
“Bahama Bob” Leonard, bartender, rum enthusiast, judge
Bahama Bob distinguished himself as Key West’s best rum bartender, instilling his love, passion and knowledge of rum with ultra-friendly service, converting untold numbers of tourists into serious rum fanatics. His web site is Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles.
I’m sorry, I can’t say what the best rum in the world is. Rum is a spirit that most often falls to you mood. That being said, I find that when I’m in the mood for an agricole. I have to get the Damoiseau XO down off of the shelf. If it is a dry rum readily available it’s Doorly’s XO. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva gets the call for a sweeter rum. My Overproof favorite is the Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof. For flavored rums I still like Siesta Key Toasted Coconut. There are so many wonderful rums out there these days that are all the best in my mind when I am in the mood. When asked that question before I answered with my top 25 favorite rums in a blog on 2 February, 2016 pretty much covered the subject then, but there are new one’s arriving that can be added to the list each year. – Bahama Bob
Warren Bobrow, the Cocktail Whisperer
Warren Bobrow, hailing from New Jersey, is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. Bobrow serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor. His books include The Craft Cocktail Compendium, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails, and Apothecary Cocktails.
World’s best rum? My favorite rum is the one that belongs to others. – Warren Bobrow
Bernhard Schäfer, Spirits Expert and International Judge
Among the most accomplished of European Spirit Experts, Bernhard Schäfer of Germany enjoys the adventure of discovering rum. He is a distinguished judge in many international competitions.
If I am asked this question the first part of my answer is honesty, unfortunately with rum you still have to demand this. Concerning added sugar and age. If you ask me for specific product I remember the 1980 Port Morant from Bristol Spirits. And off course the best Rum is the one you drink in the company of your friends! – Bernhard Schäfer
Cyrille Hugon, RumFest Paris
Cyrille Hugon is one of the leading promoters of fine rum in France. He initiated a French rum festival named Rhum Fair in Paris 2012, which he co-organised for 2 years. In December 2013, alongside Alexandre Vingtier, he launched Rumporter Magazine, a new project allowing him to combine his passions for photography, rum and journalism. In 2014, he launched Rhum Fest Paris, a new festival inspired by the spirit of fiesta he has always enjoyed while visiting Ian Burrell’s famous London Rum Fest.
As the Greek philosophers would say “the more you know, the more you learn that you know nothing.” I tend to appreciate Ian’s answer to this question: the best rum is the next one. RumPorter Magazine developing in Spanish and English, we encounter more and more people in other countries claiming they have the best rums — not to speak about those claiming they are the only true rum makers. Personally, I tend to associate my pleasure with spirits in context — within social or geographical situations of the tasting. The very best Martinique single cask tasted alone in the darkness of a turkish jail may either be the best escape or taste like shit. I never enjoyed my ‘Ti Punch more than in a balcony watching the Caribbean Sea in Martinique. It tastes different if I do it alone at home during Parisian winter. So, to the answer “What is the best rum?,” I will answer: the one you have with the best persons in the best of places! – Cyrille Hugon