Spirits & Liqueurs Rum

The 12 Best Sipping Rums to Drink in 2021

From white to dark, unaged to matured, these rums are to be savored on their own.

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Whiskey is no longer the go-to sipping spirit these days. Rum has really come into its own, with aged and dark expressions, as well as unaged white and flavored, that are as complex and delicious as the most sophisticated bourbon or scotch. There are many different brands to choose from, each offering a unique take on the spirit based on geography, maturation method, and distillation. Here are some of the best sipping rums available now, from budget to splurge-worthy, with some advice from experts in the bar industry.

Best Overall: Appleton Estate 21

Appleton Estate 21 Year Jamaican Rum

 Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Jamaica
  • ABV: 43%
  • Tasting Notes: Banana, Brown Sugar, Ginger

“I’d go straight for the Appleton 21-year-old,” says Alex Jump, bar manager at Death & Co. in Denver. This Jamaican rum is a premium expression in the distillery’s lineup. “It’s copper pot distilled with lovely notes traditional to a Jamaican rum of banana and pineapple,” she says, “as well as notes of baking spice and ginger from the extended aging.”

Best Cask Finished: Diplomatico Ambassador

Diplomatico Ambassador Rum

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Venezuela
  • ABV: 47%
  • Tasting Notes: Dried Cherry, Toasted Banana, Tobacco

This Venezuelan rum is not cheap but provides one of the most luxurious sipping experiences in the dark aged rum category. Diplomatico Ambassador is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for at least 12 years before being finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for another two. This finishing process, frequently used in scotch whisky, is the defining feature of this rum, imbuing it with a rich brown color and sweet and spicy notes.

Best White: Paranubes Rum

Paranubes Rum

Courtesy of Wine.com

  • Region: Mexico
  • ABV: 54%
  • Tasting Notes: Pineapple, Herbal, Earthy

Jess Weinstein, beverage director at Maydan and Compass Rose in Washington, D.C., is fond of this white rum from Oaxaca, Mexico, a region better known for mezcal than for rum. “Throw a rock in it, maybe a lime twist,” she says, “and catch all of the minerality, roasted pineapple, and good kind of floral and fresh green vibes.”

Related: The Best Rums

Best Splurge: Facundo Paraiso

Facundo Paraiso

 Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Puerto Rico
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Cherry, Chocolate

Facundo Paraiso is an ultra-premium expression from Bacardi, one of the best-known names in rum worldwide. “It uses rums aged up to 23 years,” says Brendan Bartley, head bartender for Bathtub Gin Speakeasy Bar. “Once blended, it’s finished in ex-cognac barrels. The French oak gives the rum a softer oak finish, letting the beautiful sophisticated flavors come through. The nose gives you vanilla, biscuit, cherry, and milk chocolate qualities, and the palate gives more richness of nuttiness, stewed fruits, salted caramel qualities.”

Related: The Best Sipping Rums

Best Under $200: Flor de Cana 25

Flor de Cana 25

 Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Nicaragua
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Coffee, Oak, Chocolate

This premium rum from Flor de Cana is definitely one worth trying. The rum is aged for a quarter of a century in ex-bourbon barrels, with no sugar or coloring added before bottling. It’s an exquisite sipper and comes from a distillery that is focused on implementing sustainable practices as much as possible to protect both the rum and the environment.

Best Under $100: Foursquare 2007 Single Blended

Foursquare 2007 Cask Single Blended Rum

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Barbados
  • ABV: 59%
  • Tasting Notes: Leather, Banana, Chocolate

According to Katsumi Yuso Ruiz, bartender and co-owner of Curio Bar, Roger's Liquid Oasis and Brass Tacks in Denver, anything from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados is worth checking out. “The Zinfandel Cask was my go-to sipping spirit for about six months straight when it first came out,” she says. That bottle can be hard to find, but check out this 2007 vintage that is a blend of column and pot-distilled spirit. It’s bottled at cask strength, so don’t be afraid to add a bit of water if you’d like.

Related: The Best Cheap Rums

Best Under $50: Ron Zacapa 23

Ron Zacapa 23

 Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Guatemala
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Coffee, Vanilla, Honey

“Neat, rocks, or with a splash of Coke. Absolutely delicious,” says Eric Vanderveen, bartender at The Empire Lounge & Restaurant in Louisville, CO. The 23 in this sipping rum’s name stands for the upper age limit of the rum in the blend, which ranges from six to 23 years old. The rum is aged at very high elevation, about 2,300 meters above sea level, allowing for a more gentle maturation than in the climate below.

Best Under $30: The Real McCoy 5 Year Old

Real McCoy Barbados Rum 5 Year

 Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Barbados
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Caramel, Almond, Cinnamon

“Anything from the Foursquare rum line is worth stockpiling,” says Javelle Taft, bartender at Death & Co. in New York City. That includes this affordable bottle from The Real McCoy, which he calls a “good option.” There are some older expressions available as well but start with this flagship bottle aged in ex-bourbon barrels that is full of flavor.

Best Flavored: Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple

Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple

 Courtesy of Wine.com

  • Region: Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, France
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Pineapple, Vanilla, Caramel

“A great place to dive into the rum world would be Plantation Pineapple Rum,” says Chris Keller, bartender at Osaka Ramen in Denver. “It’s an exquisite rum distilled using all of the [pineapple] fruit, including the bark. It is well balanced and delicately smoky, a beautiful expression.”

Related: The Best Spiced Rums

Best Age Statement: El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

El Dorado 21

 Courtesy of Wine.com

  • Region: Guyana
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Brown Sugar, Honey, Spice

“I would say that El Dorado 21 Year is my favorite sipping rum that is readily available,” says Mike Vacheresse, owner of Travel Bar in Brooklyn, NY. “It is a blended rum from Guyana made from molasses and oak, aged for 21-25 years. I will often put an ounce of this rum in with a flight of older aged scotch.”

Best Jamaican: Hampden Estate Single Jamaican Rum

Hampden Estate Single Jamaican Rum

 Courtesy of Astor Wines

  • Region: Jamaica
  • ABV: 46%
  • Tasting Notes: Tropical Fruit, Vanilla, Oak

“The first aged rum available from the famed Hampden distillery in its entire 265-year operation,” says Matt Belanger, head bartender at Death & Co. in Los Angeles, “This product takes the two-dimensional ‘tropical fruit’ note common to most pot-still Jamaican rums and elevates the concept to a level worthy of contemplation. This rum presents layers of intense aromatics on the nose that give way to surprisingly deep and complex funkiness on the palate.”

Best Solera Aged: Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum

Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum

 Courtesy of Drizly.com

  • Region: Venezuela
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Cherry, Vanilla, Banana

Santa Teresa 1796 is a Venezuelan rum that uses the solera method to blend older liquid with younger liquid as it matures in ex-bourbon barrels. The result is a rum that is dark, rich, and flavorful, with notes that bring to mind a nice whiskey or cognac as you sip. Sure you can use this to make an Old Fashioned, but first, try it neat or maybe with a large ice cube to explore the flavors.

Related: The Best Bar Sets

Why Trust Liquor.com?

Jonah Flicker is an experienced writer who has been covering spirits and traveling the world visiting distilleries for the past six years. His work has appeared in many different national outlets covering trends, new releases, and the stories and innovators behind the spirits. His first love remains whiskey, but he is partial to tequila, rum, gin, cognac and all things distilled.

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