With its syrupy sweet flavor, tropical spice tanginess and strong association with tiki drinks, rum is the quintessential summer spirit.
National Rum Day is celebrated during one of the warmest times of the year — when our taste buds crave refreshing, island-style flavors. On August 16, make a toast to this treasured Caribbean concoction. Whether you prefer your rum on the rocks, with a dash of soda water or in a piña colada, you’re sure to enjoy this selection of standout bottles from Venezuela to the British Virgin Islands.
Available in a wide range of prices, our favorite rums are a great option whether you’re looking for a simple summer treat or an elegant spirit for a special occasion.
1. Santa Teresa 1796 - Venezuela
Santa Teresa 1796 utilizes the solera method of aging, in which spirits of different ages are blended in a succession of steps over several years. A mixture of rums between four and 35 years old, this Venezuelan elixir is on the drier side and perfect for sipping straight. Even without the confectionary qualities found in many other brands, this bottle still manages to emanate enticing aromas of vanilla, caramel, cherry and banana. Making things even more authentic, Hacienda Santa Teresa is the original Venezuelan rum producer that boasts a heritage dating back to 1796. Price: $34
2. Pusser’s Navy Rum Aged 15 Years - British Virgin Islands
From 1655 to 1970, Pusser's was the rum of choice for the British Royal Navy — it wasn't even publicly available until 1979. Every British sailor was given a daily "tot," and we recommend that you try a dose as well — though not necessarily every day. This handcrafted 15-year single malt variety is aged and distilled in wooden barrels. It's smooth and sophisticated with a deep burnt amber color giving off aromas of sherry and cedar wood. This classically made rum tastes of Brazil nuts, vanilla, oak and toffee with a balsamic and cinnamon finish. Price: $65
3. Pyrat Cask 1623 - Carribean
We learned in grade school that many pirates suffered from scurvy because their less-than-nutritious diets did not contain enough Vitamin C. (That nutrient is usually found in perishable fruits and vegetables that were rarely available on ships.) Perhaps it's coincidence, but Pyrat Cask 1623 seems like a citrus blast that can cure any ailment. Now, we're not suggesting that you take an 80-proof shot in the morning in lieu of your Flintstones chewables, but this oh-so-smooth, honeyed, syrupy rum is delightful on the nose and palate. Blended and hand-bottled in the Caribbean by Patrón, the spirit makes a great gift even without the over-the-top packaging, which includes a hand-made decanter, wood display case and an ornament bearing the image of Hoti — the patron saint of fortune tellers and bartenders. Price: $267
4. Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection - Barbados
Named for the year in which the Mount Gay distillery was founded, this premium product of Barbados displays the type of craftsmanship and refinement of flavors that one would expect from the oldest continuously active rum brand in the world. Made from Barbadian sugarcane and coral-filtered water, Mount Gay 1703 goes through single and continuous distillation processes for increased complexity before being aged for up to 30 years in lightly charred oak bourbon barrels from Kentucky. The finished product is fruity, but not in a paper-umbrella-adornment way. Rather, the amber-hued rum features banana and candied fruits on the palate that linger long after the 86-proof nectar warms the belly. Price: $102
5. Appleton Estate 30 Year Old - Jamaica
Straight rum is considered a manly drink, but Appleton Estate spirits are made with a woman's touch. The Jamaican distillery, a Nassau Valley icon since 1749, made history by hiring the industry's first female Master Blender. Joy Spence has her hand in the entire line of products, but the sought-after Appleton Estate 30 Year Old is her handcrafted masterpiece. There's an abundant smokiness to the spirit, as one might expect given its three decades spent soaking up woody goodness inside used Jack Daniel’s barrels. Notes of maple and orange are dominant, complemented by hints of ginger and grapefruit. One reason for the high price is the extremely limited supply: Only 744 bottles made it to the United States. Price: $395
Making a cocktail? Check out more of the best rums
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