20 Types Of Rum Best For Sipping

Rum is a no-brainer for refreshing cocktails such as daiquiris and Dark 'n' Stormys. But if you're able to get your hands on some high-quality rum, you might find that it's the perfect sipping libation. Rum, which is derived from distilled sugarcane or molasses, is often aged in wooden barrels, giving it a rounded and smooth profile. 

Rum dates back to the 17th century when sugarcane plantations were a dime a dozen on the Caribbean Island (via Eight Oaks Distillery). European colonizers on the islands were shipping refined sugar back to Europe, and enslaved locals helped to increase their output. It's believed that the enslaved people were the first to discover that if they fermented the leftover molasses from the copper sugar-refining stills, the result was a wonderfully tasty alcohol.

The relationship between rum and its island roots is still evident today, as people primarily tend to pair rum with festive, tropical cocktails such as piña coladas and mojitos. Dark rum is a rum that has been aged, sometimes with added color and spice (as per VinePair). 

White rums are aged in stainless steel and are meant to be a more subtle take on the spirit. Whether you're a fan of light or dark rum, both are perfect to sip neat. There are quite a few different types of rum that will make your mouth water as you sip and enjoy all the delicious flavors from this spirit. 

1. Ten To One White Rum

Ten to One rum is a perfect example of how a spirit can remain rooted in tradition while bringing new flavors and aromas to the table. Although the brand makes both dark and light rum, we're fans of the delicate light rum. When you sip the Ten To One White Rum, you'll notice notes of floral jasmine, the spice of white pepper, and lemongrass. 

The layers in this rum are a pleasant surprise. Paste Magazine suggests this white rum is a notch above most of the other unaged white rums you'll find on spirit store shelves. Ten to One states that this drink blends column still rum from the Dominican Republic. It hearkens back to the traditional rum production method with high-ester Jamaican rum to bring some weight to the rum's structure.

You'll want to sip this neat, but you'll also want to use it to jazz up your favorite cocktails. It's a rum that is as surprising as it is pleasant.

2. Barrell Craft Spirits Tale Of Two Islands 8 Year

There are no official stipulations about the production methods or location of rum. That means that those who have the desire to try their hand at rum can do so as long as they know to craft something worthwhile. Barrell Craft Spirits, a Bourbon brand, got its hands on some Caribbean casks to craft several batches of rum. 

One of these rums, Tale of Two Islands, is a nod to the bold profile of Caribbean rums. This rum uses Jamaican pot still rum that is distilled and aged in Jamaica and then aged in whisky casks: Barrell creates both big, bold layers in a smooth package. Reddit User Tarquin_Underspoon refers to the rum as subtle and well-integrated. 

The initial layers of banana, sweetness, and spice are hard to miss, which help to keep this rum on track with its roots. But then there's a savory, vegetal line throughout the rum: Think mushrooms, roasted pumpkin, and tahini. Tale of Two Islands tastes like banana and passionfruit with some notes of honey and grapefruit. It's a big mashup of beautiful flavors, and it delivers exactly what a nuanced rum is supposed to. This is the rum for the skeptics who think they're beyond the point of surprise and delight!

3. Chairman's Reserve St Lucia Rum

As rum-producing countries go, St. Lucia is no novice. Crafting rum is one of the island's oldest industries, explains St. Lucia News Online. This expertise is quite evident with one taste of Chairman's Reserves. This St. Lucian rum is the brand's flagship product and was first blended in 1999, according to Chairman's Reserve. The rums used for this bottle are blended from a copper pot still rum and a column still rum and are allowed to mature separately in Bourbon barrels. 

They're then blended together in oak and aged for six months to take on smooth, spice qualities. Chairman's Reserve is an integrated, clean rum that is bursting with notes of ripe banana and sweet vanilla. Malt Review likes that this rum is straightforward. It's not a brain-buster that makes you scratch your head. Instead, it's layered, and it's overall a very simple rum for those who want to dip their toes in. Consider this the new baseline rum for your liquor cabinet.

4. Mount Gay XO

XO on a bottle of rum indicates an "Extra Old" rum that is at least 6 years old, explains Rum Culture. "XO" can also refer to the salutation of hugs and kisses, which also aptly applies to how we feel about Mount Gay's XO rum. In many circles, this rum is known as a reference point for how an aged rum should taste. This isn't surprising considering that, according to VinePair, Mount Gay is the oldest commercially-produced rum in the world, dating back to 1703.

Mount Gay uses a blend of rums distilled in both traditional columns and double retort pot stills for the XO. The rums are then aged in former bourbon, whiskey, and cognac barrels sourced from American oak, giving the resulting rum round notes of dark chocolate, baking spices, cooked fig, and an unmissable hint of rum-and-raisin as Rum Revalations picked up. While it's still TBD whether or not Mount Gay's new XO blend will be as beloved as its old one (released before 2019), it's clear that Mount Gay is a master at crafting something that will bring joy with each sip.

5. Kraken Rum Original

If it was just about the coolest branding, then Kraken would easily make the cut. Kraken, with its octopus-adorned label and brooding brand identity, is just oozing with edge. The good news is that the brand's flagship product, the Kraken Black Spiced Rum, backs up its reputation as the cool kids' go-to rum.

The Rum Lab defines spiced rum as a rum with a natural flavoring of herbs and spices like nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and vanilla, which impart a deep level of complexity into the rum. Sometimes the spice is evident on the nose and palate, but other times, it's a background player, simply contributing a mildly detectable shift. In the case of Kraken, the spices are not hiding. 

The brand clearly wasn't out for subtlety with its rum, as it ended up with a rum packed with toffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel notes. If this were some kind of grading experiment, we'd deduct a few points for lack of transparency. 

Kraken doesn't give much information about the distillation and aging process of its Black Spiced Rum. But we're also happy to just enjoy sipping on something this bold. It's not, as Liquor.com puts it, one for the rum purists. But if you're on the hunt for something that will be a tasty way to start a party, Kraken is all that and more.

6. Foursquare Cask Blend

Foursquare Rum has the benefit of having a long heritage of rum production. The distillery is located in Barbados on a plot that has existed as a sugar plantation since 1720. Today, the rums are blended by a fourth-generation rum trader and distiller. The brand is one that knows exactly where its strengths lie, and it plays those up by using creative casks to impart flavor and structure during the aging process. 

The Zinfandel Cask Blend, as its name suggests, uses old wine barrels for aging. And it does help to give this rum fruity, cocoa, and bready notes that are desired by rum lovers. 

One Reddit User describes it as a nice option for Bourbon lovers who want to finally dive into the world of rum. We like to think of this as a gateway rum. It's interesting enough to pique your interest without being unapproachable or wildly complex. 

7. Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum

Much like wine, there are some key components that contribute to a rum's flavor. Jamaican rum, for example, is known for its signature smell of caramel, molasses, and wood (via Esquire). There is a strict "no sugar added" policy for Jamaican rums, so any sweetness you pick up derives naturally from molasses. And then there's the soil. 

Limestone water, with all its minerals, is the perfect foundation for Jamaican rum and helps to give Jamaican rum a distinct softness. Smith and Cross leverage these qualities to craft a Jamaican rum that is as enticing as you might imagine. This rum is bottled at navy strength (between 54% and 57% ABV, according to Inside Hook) and ends up clocking in at 114 proof. 

It's aromatic with signature flavors of cooked bananas. Drink Hacker picks up on some juicy pineapple and peach. Smith & Cross distills this rum in Plummer and Wedderburn pot stills and skipping chill filtration, which gives this rum a lovely purity. This is a rum you'll want to sip again and again, taking in each layer.

8. Centenario Real Select Cask Reserve

Centenario doesn't give much production information about its Real Select Cask Reserve rum, but not everything needs to be explained. We're okay with the lack of details because this is a rum that will knock your socks off with each sip. There are some typical notes of molasses and caramel with some oak and vanilla in there to boot. 

It's got a nice sweetness that's not cloying but just enough to add some structure, as well as a lovely spice. We love all the charred notes in this rum: Toasted oak, wooed, smoky tobacco. It's enough to give the rum a real warmth and mysterious quality, helping to justify the hefty price tag (approximately $300). 

The rum is quite popular on Rum Ratings, with one reviewer declaring this as their favorite rum after tasting more than 500 other bottles. If you're searching for a complex, fruity, smoky rum to sip on with other rum lovers, this bottle is sure to impress. 

9. Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva

Anything emblazoned with "reserve" and "exclusive" on the label screams high-end. Thankfully for those seeking a nice sipping rum, Diplomático's Reserva Exclusive offers quality and attention to detail without the large price tag. Since each bottle is priced at around $30, we feel like we've been let in on a little secret.

This is a rum that hails from Venezuela and has been distilled in copper stills and aged for up to 12 years in oak casks. It is full of toffee and orange peel aromas, and you'll likely pick up some vanilla and oak on the palate. It has got a unique nuttiness to it, and Spirits Review even calls this rum's finish long but subtle. 

It's buttery, it's nutty, and it's bursting with notes of dried fruits. Really, what more could you ask for in a sipping rum? Don't blame us if you finish this bottle sooner than expected!

10. Mount Gay Barbados Rum Black Barrel

Mount Gay Barbados Rum's Black Barrel is aligned with the Caribbean process of double retort distillation (via Thirty One Whiskey). This is the most traditional style of distillation, one that calls for the usage of two small pots or 'retorts' in addition to the main still. This amps up the ABV to produce a stronger alcohol, and, as Revival Stillworks puts it, helps to refine the rum.

The result is an aromatic rum that's smooth and rounded from its finish in bourbon casks. But it actually sees the inside of a barrel more than once. Black Barrel is actually matured twice: First in American whiskey barrels and then in bourbon casks for its final finish. 

It's heavy on the butterscotch and the dried spices, as well as the gingerbread and lychee. When you sip it, you'll enjoy how full it is but also how distinct each of the flavors are. This rum has an approachable complexity that makes it enjoyable for novice and experienced rum lovers alike.

11. Plantation XO 20th Anniversary

We like many things about Plantation's XO 20th Aniversary blend rum, but what we love most is that it was originally blended to commemorate Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel's 20th anniversary, as explained on the Plantation Rum website. But what started off as a nice gesture has blossomed into a popular rum from Barbados that has been produced for more than 10 years. 

As an XO, this rum is considered "very old": It starts off in Barbados, where it's aged in bourbon casks and then shipped to France to spend even more time in French oak. This rum has nearly 700 reviews averaging 4.35 stars on Distiller, and it's clearly a memorable rum. 

Expect a stunning floral aroma that expands into fruit notes, followed by some milk chocolate and vanilla. It is on the thinner side, which can be a bonus depending on your preference. But as a sipper, it's got all the right parts to make it an overall enjoyable experience.

12. Ron Zacapa 23 Solera

The rum world isn't without controversy. Ron Zacapa 23 Solera, for example, faced some backlash when it was revealed that the 23 on the label didn't indicate the average rum age, as suggested. Sure there is some 23-year-old rum in there, but Liquor.com points out that the average rum in Ron Zacapa 23 Solera is closer to six years old. Of course, rum lovers felt deceived. But the good news is that Ron Zacapa 23 Solera is still a worthwhile wine in terms of taste.

It's a great example of a sweetened rum that tastes great. There are some key rum aromas, such as vanilla, cocoa, and butterscotch, followed by some nutty notes of banana and toffee. Ron Zacapa 23 Solera is aged in an array of barrels that once held American whiskey and sherries, which helps to create the warm and rounded feel of the rum. We appreciate the rum world's quest for transparency, and while it may not get there with Ron Zacapa's 23 Solera, it's still a nice way to get your hands on a decent rum.

13. El Dorado 12-Year

The Demerara region is nestled on the North coast of Guyana in Northern South America, according to BBC Good Food. This area, also known for its sugar, had fertile soil and was a gold mine for growing crops. El Dorado is from this area, and it was the main cash crop once sugar prices plummeted. 

El Dorado 12 Year Old rum uses both EHP Wooden Coffey and Metal Coffey stills to impart uniqueness to the rum. When sipping on this rum, which is something you must do, you can expect vanilla and coffee, along with dark sugar, dried fruits, and baking spices. 

It lingers in your mouth, leaving you to wonder why you haven't gotten your hands on it sooner. Some rums are made for sipping and enjoying neat and the El Dorado 12-Year is a great example of how pure, rich, and downright enjoyable a sipping rum can truly be.

14. Pampero Aniversario Reserva Exclusiva

Venezuela is not in the world's top rum (and distilled fermented sugar cane spirits) exporting countries, according to Statista, but that doesn't prevent it from joining the ranks as producing worthwhile rums. Pampero's rums are made by drawing on inspiration from Venezuela's cowboys, called Llaneros. 

The brand's Aniversario pays homage to this distinct culture by crafting a rum that is meant to be enjoyed slowly to pull out the interesting notes. This dark rum uses a blend of the brand's rarest rums and has notes of cocoa, dried fruits, and orange rind.

This is an elegant rum, if ever there was one. It's smooth on the palate and has a hint of sweetness. Difford's Guide notes that the long finish has whiffs of tobacco and coffee. At 80 proof, it's not going to be the biggest powerhouse of a rum, but that's precisely what makes it enjoyable. It's subtle enough to be pleasant but layered enough to be interesting: It offers the best of both worlds.

15. Rhum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 8 Year

Haitian rums don't seem to have gathered as much mass appeal on the market, but Rhum Barbancourt is here to change that. The brand crafts a 100% Haitian rum that has close ties to the country at every step of the production process. While some rums are sourced in one country and shipped to another for aging, Rhum Barbancourt is grown from Haitian sugarcane and distilled, fermented, and bottled in Haiti. 

Paste Magazine explains that the spirit of choice in Haiti is actually a sugarcane-based drink called clairin. Rhum Barbancourt also ferments sugarcane juice (instead of molasses) and uses French oak barrels for the aging process. The double distillation process of Rhum Barbancourt's spirits also results in a higher proof, packing a lot of punch in a relatively small bottle. 

You can immediately pick up some of the love that's poured into the production process for the 8-year rum. It has loads of peppercorn, caramel apple, and baked fruit aromas. It's not as fruit-forward as some other rums. There is some fruit, but it's not enough to make this feel like a typical rum. This would work well in a cocktail, but because it's so unique, this rum would be perfect to sip neat and pull off all the nuances.  

16. Havana Club 7 Year Clasico Rum

Havana Club might be one of the most recognizable rums on the market. Its bold black, red and white label is ubiquitous. And since it offers 7 different styles of rum, there truly is something for everyone. Havana Club, as its name suggests, is a Cuban brand. While the details of how this rum is distilled and aged are not completely clear, we can gather from the label that Havana Club 7 years does undergo an average of seven years of aging. 

That time in ex-Bourbon casks has accomplished its mission. Havana Club 7 Years is a robust and full rum that has the distinct characteristics of molasses. The Rum Howler even picked up some baking spices, tobacco, and dried fruit in there, as well. There's also a smokiness, which gives the rum a bit of mystique and harkens back to old cigar clubs, which may have inspired this rum.

While there are certainly other, more craft brands of rum to go for, with this rum, Havana Club reminds us why it is a big player in the rum world.

17. The Real McCoy 12 Year Single Blended Rum

Back in 1920, rum runner Bill McCoy loaded alcohol onto a ship and sent it to New York City. This was during Prohibition, so shipping spirits from Barbados to New York City was not only illegal but very dangerous. McCoy was able to circumvent the rules by adhering to the 3-mile limit. As long as he stayed 3 miles off the coast, he was technically able to do as he pleased. 

The Real McCoy rum is produced with McCoy's spirit in mind. It keeps the rum clean, with no additives, sweeteners, or color enhancers, and gives the people what they want. That intention shines brightly with the brand's 12-year rum blend. It consists of molasses and Barbados spring water distilled in copper pots and column stills and then aged in American oak barrels.

The oak is prominent, as are aromas of butterscotch and citrus. There is also some spice, which helps to keep the rum alive on the palate. All At Sea asserts that this is a great option for those who want a deeper, more heady rum to sip on. And if you're a bourbon lover, you might enjoy this rum so much that it will quickly become a fixture in your liquor cabinet.

18. Appleton Estate 21 Year

Considering Jamaican rum's reputation, one might assume that Appleton rum will be a rich and powerful rum. That assumption wouldn't be totally wrong, and it's one of the characteristics we adore most about Appleton Estate rums. The brand's 21-year-old rum is the oldest in its regular assortment, and it is aged in Jamaica for 21 years. 

It has a delicate floral scent and an unmistakable nuttiness, followed by baking spices, cocoa, coffee, and vanilla notes. It also has notes of caramelized banana and bread pudding, as Tastings.com points out. 

It's difficult to express how exciting this rum is, but it checks every box on any self-respecting rum lover's list. It's a Jamaican rum through, with its smooth peppery finish and complex aromas. But most importantly, this is perfect to sip. If you've wanted to try a top-notch Jamaican rum, then Appleton Estate's 21-year-old rum, aged in Nassau Valley Casks, is a safe bet.

19. Barceló Imperial

Sometimes, a little ambiguity is the perfect antidote in a world where we have every answer at our fingertips. Barceló keeps the aging specifics of its Imperial rum vague, but the brand does indicate that parts of the blend are aged for up to ten years. It really doesn't matter because what the rum lacks in the description, it more than makes up for in profile and flavor. 

It has a beautiful concentration of aromas that make it just as appealing in the glass as it is on the palate. All of the aromas dance together in a harmonious relationship, so this is not a rum that will smack you in the face with boldness. Barceló Imperial delivers on the nuttiness front, and Vinepair points out it has some hints of butterscotch and vanilla, as well as dried fruit aromas in there as well. It's exactly how rum should be: This rum is a great option for a  quiet, introspective evening.

20. Rhum JM XO 6 Year

If you see Rhum Agricole on a bottle of rum, you might know that while it's technically rum, some key differences may set it apart from your beloved drink (via Distiller). Rhum Agricole, often shortened to just Rhum, is a type of rum that is distilled from fresh sugarcane juice instead of from molasses like many other rums. This difference results in more vegetal notes. 

Rhum J.M has been producing Agricole in Martinique since 1845. During this time, the brand has perfected the art of old rum. The brand, with its XO (very old) Rhum, leverages column distillation and ages the spirit in toasted Bourbon casks for 6 years. Rum Revelations picked up on the oak right away, but there were also some heavy red fruit nuances, which bring a nice line of brightness to the rhum. 

The Rhum Agricole grassiness is unmissable and does work well with the other characteristics of the rum to keep it really balanced and round. This is certainly not your standard rhum, but if you're into sipping rums, you'll probably fall head over heels at first sip.