June is Rum. Right Now. month at Liquor.com.
A growing number of spirits producers are reviving the tradition of rum-making among the Southern states, an area once fertile with sugar cane plantations.
Today, most of those modern distillers source sugar cane from the Caribbean and other warmer climes, although a handful work with farmers in the region to obtain locally-grown sugar cane.
These five Southern-made rums are worth running into, whether you choose to sip straight up or mix ’em into a traditional Southern rum punch.
Producer: High Wire Distilling, Charleston, South Carolina
This craft distillery focuses on local provenance wherever possible, so this “Belonger” bottling—island parlance for a native or someone with close family ties to a place—fits right in. Made from Barbadian-style molasses sourced from a U.S. sugar cane plantation and aged in Woodford Reserve rye barrels, this rum links Charleston and Barbados. Look for a whiskey-like undertone laced with sweetness and spice. ($80)
Producer: Prichard’s Distillery, Kelso, Tennessee
Inspired by Colonial-era rums, Phil Prichard first started making rums in 1996—in the heart of whiskey country. A gutsy move. It’s paid off with this luscious flavored rum, ideal for topping up iced tea on a sweltering summer afternoon. ($25)
Producer: Railean Distillers, San Leon, Texas
Think Cuba Libres for this small-batch Texas rum. Aged in small, double-charred barrels, look for rich, dark brown sugar and walnut flavors. ($40)
Producer: Drum Circle Distilling, Sarasota, Florida
Made with honey and spice—and 100-percent Florida sugarcane—this sunny golden rum suggests vanilla, honey and maple, finishing with plenty of baking spice and a smooth, gentle fade. ($20)
Producer: The Great Dismal Distillery, Norfolk, Virginia
This white rum has a surprising raspberry note in the aroma and flavor, plus a wash of vanilla that seems ideal for mixing up fruity, summery cocktails. ($17)
Kara Newman is a New York–based spirits and cocktail writer, and author of Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books).