Spirits & Liqueurs Rum

The 14 Best Sipping Rums to Drink in 2022

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.

Region: Barbados | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Fig, Brown Sugar, Dark Chocolate

Mount Gay is made in Barbados, a country with a long history of producing excellent rum. The XO expression is one of the best bottles you can find, a deeply complex spirit that won’t break the bank. It’s distilled in column and pot stills, and aged for between five and 17 years in three different cask types - bourbon, American whiskey, and cognac. This is a great sipping rum that can be enjoyed neat or over a large ice cube.

What Our Experts Say

"Mount Gay has been making rum since the 1700s but Trudiann Branker has been making her mark as master blender these last few years. The XO now has a blend of cognac barrel-aged rum added to mix and it's even better than before—complex, rich, with candied fruit, and heady spices. This is a perfect sipping rum." Prairie Rose, Editor

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: Ten to One Caribbean White Rum

Ten to One Caribbean White Rum

Reserve Bar

Region: Dominican Republic, Jamaica | ABV: 45% | Tasting Notes: Lemon, Grass, Coconut

Ten to One is a relatively new Black-owned brand that has a white rum worthy of sipping in its lineup. The rum is a blend that comes from the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, and has no sugar, color, or flavor added to the spirit. While this rum would certainly work in a cocktail like a classic daiquiri, it’s flavorful and complex enough to enjoy on its own, not something that can be said about every white rum.

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 with a 130-year family history that dates back to 1890.

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 Rum

the-real-mccoy-5-year-rum

Courtesy of Minibar

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 to 25 years. I will often put an ounce of this rum in with a flight of older-aged scotch.”

Best Jamaican: 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 Solera Aged: Santa Teresa 1796 Solera

santa-teresa-rum

Courtesy of Astor Wines

 

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

Best Craft: Privateer Navy Yard Rum

Privateer Navy Yard Rum

Total Wine

Region: Massachusetts | ABV: 55% | Tasting Notes: Brown butter, apricot, fig

Privateer is a fantastic Massachusetts craft distillery focused on making rum, without using added sugar or flavor and never filtering the spirit. The Navy Yard expression is a barrel-proof release, made from molasses and aged for a minimum of two years in new American oak barrels. This rum was made to be sipped, and a little ice will help tamp down the high proof if you wish. Privateer is definitive proof of just how good craft rum can be in the US.

Best New Release: Equiano Rum

Equiano Rum

Caskers

Region: Mauritius, Barbados | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Toffee, vanilla, oak

Equiano launched in 2020, and brought an interesting new perspective to the sipping rum category. This Black-owned brand was named after Nigerian writer Olaudah Equiano, and sources rum from Barbados and Mauritius, an island off the southeast coast of Africa, to blend together for the flagship expression. No color or sugar is added, so all of the character of this rum comes from the bourbon and cognac casks it’s matured in.

Final Verdict

The best overall sipping rum is Mount Gay XO, based on quality and affordability. This rum will generally cost around $60, which is a steal for something so good. This is a wonderful example of how a blend of various ages can come together to create a deep, rich character, based on the triple cask maturation used to age the rum. This rum will rival any whiskey you might normally sip.

What to Look For

A good sipping rum can really be any type of rum, provided it’s got the complexity and character that make it worth enjoying alone instead of using in a cocktail. If you want to make sure it’s not overly sweet, look for a rum that has no sugar or flavor added, a common practice but one that brands that don’t use will proudly proclaim. Sipping rum can be aged in oak barrels for years, or an unaged white rum (although it’s usually the former). And this type of spirit can come from different parts of the world, which tends to give it an identifiable flavor profile. Jamaican rum is very different from Barbados rum, for example.

FAQs

Is sipping rum made differently than mixing rums?

Generally speaking, a sipping rum might be produced the same way as a mixing rum, but will be aged in oak barrels for some period of time. Many rums meant for mixing are cheaper and might have added sugar, while a high quality sipping rum will be unadulterated.

Is sipping rum more expensive?

You will often pay a bit more for a good sipping rum, based on the fact that it’s usually aged for a few years before bottling. But the good news is that you can find sipping rums that are worth buying for $50 or less.

Is there a temperature to ideally sip rum at, and can you drink it with ice?

If you are enjoying a sipping rum neat, it’s best to drink it at room temperature, as a cold pour can inhibit some of the notes on the nose and palate. But go ahead and add a large ice cube if you choose. This will lower the proof a bit, but the palate will slowly open up as you sip and the water combines with the spirit.

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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