Bacardí Superior is a recognizable and budget-friendly light rum that’s perfect for mixing into cocktails. Is it the world’s best rum? Of course not, but novices and pros alike could do a whole lot worse.
Classification light/white rum
Distillery Bacardí (Puerto Rico)
Cask white oak
Still Type column
Proof 80 (40% ABV)
Aged at least one year in American oak
Awards Bronze, 2021 International Wine & Spirits Competition; Bronze, 2021 San Francisco International Spirits Challenge; 83 points, 2021 Ultimate Spirits Challenge; Bronze, 2020 New York International Spirits Competition
One of the most affordable rums out there, it won’t bust your budget, even if you’re mixing Mojitos by the dozen.
A pleasant, inoffensive mixer for classic rum-based cocktails like the Cuba Libre or Daiquiri
Its light, ephemeral flavor makes it a (somewhat) more flavorful substitute for vodka in cocktails or on the rocks.
It’s not a very sophisticated or exciting rum, so it won’t exactly thrill more seasoned fans of the spirit.
Color: Crystal clear—the charcoal filtration has done its job, and done it well.
Nose: Tropical fruits, namely pineapple, and a strong alcohol smell reminiscent of gasoline, which is quite impressive in its own way for an 80-proof spirit
Palate: Vanilla and tropical fruits like coconut, melon, and pineapple, along with lemony notes that become more pronounced as it moves throatward
Finish: Lemon and quite a bit of char, which must come from the charcoal filtration
Bacardí isn’t just the best-known rum in the world, it’s likely the only rum many people have ever tasted, the sole representative of a wide and ridiculously diverse category. That’s a lot of weight to place on the shoulders of this light, inoffensive, relatively benign spirit. But here we are.
Bacardí’s flagship rum was the first to get aged and then charcoal filtered, removing both the color and many of the impurities that plagued lesser brands and gave the entire category a bad reputation. This development revolutionized the way rum was perceived, from a harsh sailor’s drink to the stuff that’s graced countless Mojitos, Daiquiris, Cuba Libres, and of course Bacardí Cocktails over the decades.
Bacardí Superior isn’t a challenging rum, nor is it meant to be. With a harsh finish, especially for an 80-proof spirit, and a nose that evokes a gas station as much as a tropical beach, it’s not a great sipper, but when was the last time anyone sipped it? As a mixer, it’s…fine. Rum fans who have enjoyed Daiquiris with higher-grade white rums like Ten To One or Banks 5 Island won’t be very impressed with Bacardí, but if it doesn’t quite elevate a cocktail, it doesn’t diminish it either. There are far worse ways to spend an evening than with a Bacardí and cola or two. And it’s cheap enough to mix with abandon.
Judging a spirit this ubiquitous seems almost beside the point. Whether or not we love it, and wherever we may place it in the rum pantheon, we’ll all certainly be drinking it again at some point. And while it’s certainly nowhere near the summit of the category, there are worse places to set up base camp.
One of the most popular cocktails of the first half of the 20th century was the Bacardí Cocktail—essentially a Daiquiri with some grenadine added. Bacardí was made in Cuba until 1960, so during Prohibition, thirsty Americans would make the short trip to Havana, where they could drink legally. As a result, the Bacardí Cocktail became even more popular after Repeal than before. Problem was, most bartenders took “Bacardí” to mean any white rum, which didn’t appeal to the brand’s lawyers. In 1936, they filed a trademark infringement suit against two New York hotels whose “Bacardí” cocktails allegedly didn’t contain the real thing, and an injunction was granted.
The Bottom Line
Everyone knows it, everyone drinks it. Are there better rums than Bacardí Superior? Absolutely. But rum novices could certainly do worse than to use it as a starting point.