Spirits & Liqueurs Rum

The Best Rum at Any Price

Image: Laura Sant

You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.

Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.

  • Abuelo Añejo 7 Años ($33)

    “This rum is a steal, and I still can’t figure out why it isn't priced higher. Every home bar needs a quintessential sipping rum that really will warm your insides on a winter evening.”—Johnson

  • Banks 5 Island ($33)

    “Banks 5 Island is my go-to for making a cocktail, especially the Daiquiri and Hemingway Daiquiri. It’s a rum made for cocktails with a bit funk and aromatics.”—Kenneth McCoy, partner at The Rum House in New York City

  • Clairin Sajous ($41)

    “This is a cool new category, at least in the States. Think raw, wild and natural rum from sugar cane juice. The spirit smells like damp hay and clover honey with some green peppers.”—Kirk Estopinal, partner at Cane & Table in New Orleans

  • Clairin Vaval 2016 ($40)

    “Clairin, the national spirit of Haiti, focuses on entirely heritage cane varieties and uses wild yeasts. After being fermented for no less than 120 hours, clairin is rapidly distilled on a small-batch still. Consumed locally, at still strength, clairin’s cultural significance in Haiti is huge. Vaval has slightly sharp vegetal flavors and a hint of salinity on the finish, evoking its coastal terroir.”—Selma Slabiak, spirits director and bartender at the Taproom at Evil Twin Brewing in New York City

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  • Clément Canne Bleue ($44)

    “This single cane varietal rhum agricole, made from freshly cut sugar cane rather than molasses, is light and vegital, maybe closer to tequila, but makes a gorgeous Daiquiri or even better Ti’ Punch, the official cocktail of the French Caribbean.”—Abigail Gullo, bar manager and assistant general manager at Ben Paris at The State Hotel in Seattle

  • Clément X.O. ($60)

    “It’s spicy, juicy in all the right ways, soft and sweet. You can start to see that the people that have been making rum for a lot longer than the new distilleries popping up near you really do know how to do it better.”—Nathaniel Smith, creative director of bar and drinks at Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Minneapolis

  • El Dorado 15 Year ($52)

    “This rum has the only working wooden pot still in the world. The Demerara River flows through the distillery, causing all the sugar cane in the river to actually leave a subtly sweet finish of sugar cane in the water as well. There’s so much flavor in this beautiful sipping rum.”—Zachary Helton, bartender at Cork & Cow in Franklin, Tenn.

  • Facundo Exquisito ($130)

    “Blends incorporated here are anywhere from seven to 23 years old. The body speaks for itself. Give it a slight chill, nothing more. It’s absolutely exquisite, as the name suggests. Also, it’s only available in small quantities and will definitely be a future collectors’ item.”—Andra Johnson, bar director at Serenata in Washington, D.C.

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  • Facundo Neo Premium Silver ($58)

    “Don't mistake the clear color for a blanco. Neo is actually aged for eight years, which gives it that barrel-aged complexity. But I love this as a gift idea because you can use Neo in any cocktail you were going to use a blanco rum in. The intensity of flavors shines through beautifully.”—Johnson

  • Flor de Caña 4 Year Extra Seco ($21)

    “You can't beat this pricing, especially for a four-year-old rum. It’s easily accessible and great for punches if you’re having company over. It’s also a drier style, so the aromatics shine through without being aged and cloyingly sweet on the palate.”—Johnson

  • Foursquare Cask Strength Single Blended 2007 ($85)

    “From the acclaimed Barbados distillery, where many of its releases have earned the moniker the Pappy of Rum due to the demand, exceedingly high quality and adherence to traditional practices. With tasting notes of honey, butterscotch, red currants, Ceylon tea, dark cocoa, tobacco, and subtle hints of leather, this is the number-one bottle I always reach for when I want to treat myself or others.”—Slabiak

  • Foursquare Zinfandel Cask Blend ($73)

    “I guess this would be a baller rum if you wanted to categorize it. It’s not for a first-time rum drinker—a tad more complex, with fruit highlights, spice and berries—and it’s delicious neat. Adding ice will bring another level to this beauty.”—McCoy

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  • The Funk Jamaican Heavy Pot Still ($23)

    “This rum needs only one word to describe it: dank. The nose reeks of resin and allspice. I love it blended with other white rums to create complexity or in a Daiquiri as the base spirit to add some complexity and dimension to the cocktail.”—Johnson

  • Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black ($34)

    “From the Ministry of Rum, Mr. Hamilton himself, this is a traditional-style Jamaican pot-still rum, a quintessential rum for the tropical drinks lover—notes of butter and custard, followed by melon and fresh cut grass.”—Slabiak

  • Hampden Estate Overproof Single Jamaican ($83)

    “It has big funk and ester with a punch, but you wouldn’t even think it was coming in at 120 proof. It’s a beautiful escape from the norm.”—McCoy

  • j.m v.s.o.p ($55)

    “This is always a tasty choice. It’s a French AOC rhum from Martinique. Think classy cognac with honey tones. Personally, this is one of my favorites.”—Estopinal

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  • J.M White ($30)

    “Rhum agricole is made from freshly crushed and fermented sugar cane juice rather than molasses, and J.M. is my go-to in split cocktails, like Daiquiris and Mai Tais, adding an extra dimension to my favorite classics. With ripening tropical fruits—mango, banana and papaya—and the traditional rhum agricole flavor of intensely rich fresh sugar cane, this bottle truly displays the raw power of what’s regarded as one of the best rhums out of Martinique island.”—Slabiak

  • Lost Spirits Navy Style Overproof ($49)

    “Lost Spirits began distilling rum in California in 2013 and quickly won the affection of rum lovers nationwide. This navy-style rum is my personal favorite for high-proof additions to cocktails and has a surprisingly smooth texture despite its strength. It’s adored in many bars, including mine, for its sherry, liquorice, tropical fruits and melon flavor notes.”—Slabiak

  • Opthimus 25 Year Port Finish ($95)

    “I love a secondary barrel finish in my whiskey and rum. The vinous qualities from the port really elevate the structure of Opthimus. Opthimus 15 Year is delicious in its own right, but the 25 Year is so much more elegant. It’s highly coveted and sought-after but also not totally inaccessible and makes for a great gift for any rum lover.”—Johnson

  • Plantation Dark Overproof O.F.T.D. ($30)

    “Whoa, this is a big-boy rum. This rum stays in my flask at all times. If I'm playing golf with friends, they all expect the bartender to have something cool to sip on. This will always get you nice and loose for golf.”—Helton

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  • Plantation Pineapple ($34)

    “The cores of the pineapples sit in this rum and add natural flavors. It makes a grand Rum Old Fashioned without having to use much sweetener because of the touch of pineapple in the rum.”—Helton

  • The Real McCoy 3 Year ($20)

    “Any bar shelf worth its salt needs a solid silver rum, whether its for mixing or enjoyed straight, and this award-winning rum, named after Bill McCoy, the Prohibition-era rum runner who became a household name for selling only the best-quality unadulterated spirits, still delivers. It’s bright and floral, with hints of toasted coconut, marzipan and nutmeg.”—Slabiak

  • The Real McCoy 5 Year ($29)

    “This is the rebirth of a Prohibition-era rum that’s packed with vanilla and tropical fruit flavors.”—Sother Teague, beverage director at Amor y Amargo, Blue Quarter, HoneyBee's and Windmill in New York City

  • Ron Del Barrilito 5 Star ($1000)

    “This is the first year that a 5 Star will ever be released from Barrilito and it’s a big deal! I would suggest buying one for a friend and one for yourself. Beautiful rums from distinguished families are literally the cream of the crop. 5 Star is the culmination of all of the work put in for the past 138 years. It does not disappoint.”—Johnson

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  • Ron Del Barrilito 3 Star ($60)

    “Barrilito drinks like a bourbon and is still capable of getting tropical. Barrilito with pineapple juice is a perfect vacation cocktail.”—Tommy Flynn, beverage director at Paper Daisy in New York City

  • Ron Del Barrilito 2 Star ($41)

    “The flavors are absolutely unmatched when it comes to balance and texture. It's a rum you can't stop wanting to nose and savor. It’s a beautiful blanco for sipping and Puerto Rico's oldest rum, which makes for a great conversation piece.”—Johnson

  • Santa Teresa 1796 ($50)

    “Santa Teresa 1796 results from a careful blend of its finest aged spirits that’s further aged in a style borrowed from Spanish sherry producers. It’s the first premium añejo rum in the world to be aged in the solera method, which is unique to the entire rum world. Drier than your average rum, it still packs all the rich flavors you’d expect from a high-end sipping rum: coffee, vanilla bean, tobacco and baking spices.”—Slabiak

  • Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican ($32)

    “Navy-strength, this rum is very unique and funky. If I can make someone any kind of rum cocktail, I reach for this bottle.”—Travis Sanders, bartender at Pennyroyal in Seattle

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  • Ten to One Caribbean Dark ($42)

    “Great for both mixing and drinking neat, it’s a good rum for everything. It’s different from other rum in the sense that it has a dry finish—not as sweet as other rum tends to be.” —Sondre Kasin, principal bartender at Undercote in New York City