That’s why we asked DrinkWire’s resident rum aficionado Rick Buda of Rick, the Rum Runner to help us navigate the bevy of choices lining liquor store shelves to find the best-tasting rums that cost less than $30. That’s right: delicious and wallet-friendly. Oh, and did we mention all of his picks are American-made?
Read on to see which brands the Rum Runner recommends—at a price point that will make everyone happy.
Distilled in the heart of San Francisco, Sgt. Classick is made from 100-percent Hawaiian molasses from the island of Kaua'i. While Sgt. Classick makes both gold and silver varieties, Rick chose the silver as his favorite.
Rick’s notes: “The flavors are sweet; many detect an essence of pineapple. As is the case with many white rums, it has a tiny bite in front but a mellow pleasant taste. Very blendable.”
As the name implies, this Manitou Passage rum is made in Michigan from blackstrap molasses. If you need a rum that’s versatile enough to either sip or mix in a cocktail, this is the one Rick recommends.
Rick’s notes: “...the taste is quite bold and very distinctive. I find the taste more towards the peppercorn side, with an aftertaste that sweetens as it lingers. This is not a white rum for the timid. Very warming. That said—this is a nice sipper as well.”
This oddly-named spirit (aren’t all dogs cute—even the ugly ones?) is also distilled in Michigan, but from sugar cane that is imported from Florida. While Rick doesn’t recommend it for sipping, it goes well in everything from a Rum and Coke to a Daiquiri.
Rick’s notes: “It's a top-notch mixer in my opinion.”
If you’re a fan of Southern spirits, this rum may be more up your alley. It’s made from Savannah, Georgia molasses and grains grown in South Carolina. And you don’t need much else to fully enjoy this spirit.
Rick’s notes: “[It’s a] full-bodied sipper. I recommend a splash of water, perhaps a rock or two (a refrigerated bottle is recommended) and time to enjoy.”
While this product has only been on the market for a couple of years, it’s made quite the impression on rum-lovers—especially Rick.
Rick’s notes: “This is truly a multi-purpose rum. Blend it, chill it, sip it—it's all good. Sweet aroma with hints of licorice and butterscotch. Smooth and warming like a rum should be.”
Mixing your cocktail