The Playbook For The Modern Man

Rums Of The World You Need To Try At Least Once

No spirit in history comes from more humble and controversial beginnings than rum.

Rum. Perhaps no spirit in history comes from more humble and controversial beginnings.

Plantation slaves were first to discover that molasses – a by-product in the sugar refining process and thought of as waste at the time – could be fermented into alcohol. Later this alcohol was purified into the first real rums.

Of course, rum has been popular for ages now, what with it being used as a currency and barter device in the early days of the American colonies, with pirates and navies getting famously paid in rum, the explosion of Bacardi in Cuba and rum-running during the Prohibition age.


Now, lo and behold, here we are in the Jonny Depp/Jack Sparrow rum era. So, with no further ado, let us introduce you to thirty of our favourite drops of kill-devil.

And remember, when you next ask yourself – with your girlfriend’s eyeliner on and your hands going all over the place – “why is the rum gone?” It’s probably because you’ve drank it.

Havana Club 3 Year Old


We’ll start off nice and easy here by saying that this should be your first port of call when it comes to rum for your home cocktail cabinet. Rum. Havana. Cuba. Hemingway. Mojitos. Cube Librés.

You see where we’re going with this? This is the perfect rum for mixing as its nice and light, and is a match made in heaven for that mint plant you’ve got growing in your garden or on your windowsill.

Saying that though, the best way we can think of enjoying a bottle is sitting with friends on the Malecón in Havana, where you can pick it up for about $3USD a litre.     

  • Origins: Cuba
  • 40% Alcohol

Pyrat XO


Now, it’s a somewhat universally accepted fact that old school pirates were awesome. Admittedly the majority of them were most probably murderous, thieving bastards with all the culture of yoghurt and the dental hygiene of a donkey, but they undoubtedly had style, and style counts for a lot.


Therefore there are only a few questions that need asking before you buy a bottle of Pyrat XO. Is it tasty? Hell yes. Does it come in a handmade bottle that is based on those used by 19th century buccaneers?

Of course. Will you be the coolest, swashbuckling mothers son at any party you rock up to with a bottle of this tucked into your waistband? Undoubtedly.

  • Origins: Guyana
  • 40% Alcohol

Sailor Jerry’s


C’mon, we know this isn’t the most refined rum out there, but there’s something about it that we find endearing. The bottle is a hands-down winner, and the rum itself isn’t actually that bad considering the price. It’s the overall package that we love here.

The fact that it comes from the famed tattoo artist Sailor Jerry Collins, the hula girl on the label which conjures images of young seamen getting pissed and inked on shore-leave. It’s a good spiced-rum, and with its tweaked and spicier recipe, it goes well with a drop of coke.

  • Origins: Caribbean
  • 40% Alcohol

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12


We can’t sit here chatting about rum and not mention Jamaica, and we can’t talk about Jamaican rum without paying homage to the good folk at Appleton Estate.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this grogs ubiquity makes it in any way, shape or form an unworthy addition to your cocktail cabinet – quite the opposite, good sirs. The fact that the Appleton Estate have managed to take the world by the soft and danglies, whilst still preserving the quality of their rums deserves a special respect – especially when you consider these rum-makers have been churning out the good stuff since 1779.

In particular this twelve year-old rare blend is worth snaring, with its coffee and cream taste on the palate that works well with the other flavour hits that you come to expect from Caribbean rum, namely; caramelised bananas, orange peel and heaps of brown sugar.     

  • Origins: Jamaica
  • 43% Alcohol

El Dorado 12 Year Old



This much-lauded drop might just be our top pick if you want to strike a balance between affordability and quality.

We might even go so far as to say that Demerara Distillers are on the losing end of the deal. Something that is unanimously agreed on is that to get the most of this rum you really want to drink it neat – that means no mixer and no ice.

Novice rum drinkers might cringe at the thought, but that’s the beauty of this twelve-year-old spirit, it’s just so sweet and rich and comfortable in the mouth – like drinking a much-loved armchair made from sugar and honey, and dusted with tobacco. Give it a go and you’ll see what we mean. 

  • Origins: Guyana
  • 40% Alcohol

Kraken Black Spiced Rum


It’s the bottle that catches the eye and wins the prospective drinker over before the seal has even been broken with this distinctive rum. Happily, this spirit’s charm doesn’t stretch solely to bottle aesthetics, its got balls too.

The flavours are quite aggressive and punchy; cherry and dark coffee with nutty, peppery undertones. It’s good straight up or with a mixer, and undoubtedly adds a bit of character to any home bar.

Plus, with that beautiful Kraken illustration and the connotations it has to adventures on the high-seas, it’s just plain cool.

  • Origins: Caribbean Blend
  • 40% Alcohol

FAIR Rum 5 Year Old


FAIR by name and fair by nature, this is one of those convenient alcoholic beverages that doesn’t just alleviate a man’s sense of sobriety, but also assuages any pesky feelings of guilt he might have at drinking it in the first place.

What we mean by that is this; the Belizean sugarcane used to make this lovely, smooth rum is all Fair Trade Certified and grown using sustainable and organic farming methods. If you’re a keen rum drinker then buying a bottle of this grog is basically your duty, and even if you don’t usually drink rum then do the world a service a go and purchase a bottle now.


Coffee, chocolate, vanilla and banana are all here on the palate, giving it an almost dessert-like quality. What’s not to love?

  • Origins: Belize
  • 40% Alcohol

Angostura Gran Anejo 7 Year Old


Most of us are familiar with the name of Angostura because of their world-famous bitters, but this company has also been in the rum game for many, many years – since 1830 to be (fairly) precise.

This particular rum is pleasingly complex for how affordable it is. It’s made – as all Angostura rums are – from molasses, and is yet another rum on our list that is aged in old bourbon barrels from the States.

Flavour wise you’re going to be picking up some spices, chocolate, burnt orange, coffee and a little light tobacco too. Basically, you’ve got the Caribbean in your glass.

Whilst you can drink it straight, we’d recommend mixing it into a Cube Libré to take the sting out of its tail on the finish.

  • Origins: Trinidad & Tobago
  • 40% Alcohol

Mount Gay Black Barrel


Black Barrel sees the wise folk at Mount Gay blending together rums distilled via the double-pot and column distillation processes, before ending the ageing process in ex-bourbon barrels.

As you might expect, this has given rise to a rum that retains vanilla notes and a dry oaky character, more familiar with bourbon than rum. Having said that though, you’ll still find a pleasant molasses sweetness here – we enjoyed the boozy fruitiness particularly.

Basically, it’s a decent little everyday sipper, and you’ll be trying to find reasons to ditch reality and head out to the beach, straw hat and fishing rod in hand, to enjoy it. 

  • Origins: Barbados
  • 43% Alcohol



From the truly magnificent bastards at Ableforth’s – the legends that gave us their sensational Navy-Strength Bathtub Gin – comes Rumbullion! Using a blend of Caribbean rums – sugarcane struggles in England apparently – this Kent-based company has knocked up a rather shipshape rum that will really warm the cockles on those cold winter nights and days out on the water. At about sixty bucks a bottle it’s not the cheapest rum on our list, but with it wrapped in brown paper and twine and sealed with wax, you get an element of nautical theatre for your doubloons. Also, if you enjoy this cracking winter warmer with some freshly squeezed lime, you’ll enjoy one hell of a drink too. 

  • Origins: England
  • 42.6% Alcohol

Reserva De La Familia Serralles


Now there are a few things about this rum, some of them good and the other, well, not so great. We’ll start with the positives first though, and those are all to do with the taste.

This spirit was distilled in 1994 and aged for twenty years – in charred American oak barrels if you must know – before it was released to celebrate the 150th birthday of the makers of the Don Q range.

The taste of the oak mingles beautifully with vanilla and fruit notes, and makes for a one of the mellowest rums on the market. Now for the not so good aspect of this spirit – and it’s just a little thing – and that’s the price.

A bottle of this grog, well, it’s going to set you back round about two and half thousand of your hard-earned Australian dollars. So…yeah.    

  • Origins: Puerto Rico
  • 40% Alcohol

Stolen Smoked Rum


Whereas the majority of the rums on our list are steeped in history, come from Caribbean rum estates that have been operating for two centuries or so, or are made from tried and tested recipes that have been handed down through the generations, this is not the case with this Kiwi company. Stolen is a contemporary brand that is shaking and stirring the rum world up. This is the world’s first smoked rum, and is infused with re-fractioned Columbian Arabica coffee. The warm roasted flavour that this develops harmonises wonderfully with a creamy sweetness from premium vanilla beans. The finish? Smooooooth, son.     

  • Origins: New Zealand
  • 42% Alcohol

Trois Rivières Rhum Blanc



For such a boozy monster, this rum has some surprisingly bold flavours. There’s banana and a mixture of fruits, as well as hint of dry grass. If you want our advice, keep things simple. If you’re going to mix a cocktail, a bit of lime juice and sugar syrup are all you really want.

  • Origins: Martinique
  • 50% Alcohol

Gosling’s Black Seal


This is rum made for a mixer – not through any inadequacy of its own – but because it’s spicy and deeply fruitful flavours cry out to be joined to something sweet and fizzy. You’ll really get a taste for the country of origin with this drink, as it is used in Bermuda’s national dish of fish chowder, as well as the Dark & Stormy (Black Seal and ginger beer) – the country’s national drink.

  • Origins: Bermuda
  • 40% Alcohol

Abuelo Centuria


This is another celebratory rum, this time marking the 100th anniversary of the family’s production of sugarcane. Unsurprisingly, for a blend that has been aged for up to thirty years (depending on the particular rum) in old Jack Daniels barrels, this is a punchy and rich number.

  • Origins: Panama
  • 40% Alcohol

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve


This is a big-hitter when it comes to flavours. Vanilla, dried fruits, spices and molasses (from which it is distilled) are made more complex thanks to twelve years of downtime in American oak barrels. Thank god this rum wasn’t kept just for the family that originally distilled it, as was the initial plan. 

  • Origins: Barbados
  • 40% Alcohol

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva


The first thing that springs to mind with this sweet tipple is that this would be a bloody interesting alternative to a dessert wine. It’s unashamedly sugary, not as balanced as other rums because there’s not a lot of wood flavour here, but that’s not the point. There’re all sorts of tasty after-dinner flavours vying for attention here: chocolate and banana and spiced fruit, even cloves. Come to think of it, just grab a bottle of this instead of the token and inevitably untouched Christmas pudding the next festive season.   

  • Origins: Venezuela
  • 40% Alcohol

Plantation 20th Anniversary XO Rum



This is the perfect place to start if you’re new to sipping rum, albeit a little bit of a pricy one. What can you expect for $85? Well, you’ll get a beautiful decanter-like bottle to start. The taste is buttery and creamy and rich, with vanilla and caramel playing major roles. Basically, it’s delicious and worth the money.

  • Origins: Barbados
  • 40% Alcohol

The Duppy Share


This blend is the bastard offspring of a five year-old Barbados rum and it’s younger, three year-old Jamaican rum lover. And what a happy copulation! The result is a fun and bold rum that’s perfect for the beach. Also, for the rum nerd, the legend behind the name is that Duppy spirits were purported to range from island to island taking their share of liquor from rum casks, much as angels are said to take their portion of whiskey barrels as the whiskey matures.   

  • Origins: Caribbean Blend
  • 40% Alcohol

Clement XO Rhum


Here’s another fancy pants rum for the connoisseurs amongst you. Yes, it will set you back about two hundred and sixty bucks, but if you love your rum you might find it worth the coin. This defines sipping rum. You’ll want your braided dressing gown, most comfortable slippers and pipe to hand when you uncork this beaut.    

  • Origins: Martinique
  • 44% Alcohol

Saint James Cuvée 250th Anniversary


You’ll get about ninety dollars change from one thousand here, but you’ll be able to say that you’re the proud owner of one of only eight hundred bottles of this special rum. It’s a veritable blended all-star squad of vintages from 1885, 1934, 1952, 1976, 1998 and 2000, brought together to celebrate 250 years of rum making. And no, we haven’t managed to get our hands on a bottle, but we hear it ain’t a bad drop. 

  • Origins: Martinique
  • 40% Alcohol

Inner Circle Green Dot Rum


Here’s an Aussie rum in the list at last. There’s not much to say except that this is overproof rum that has been nailed. It’s full-bodied and well rounded with a caramel start when you first take a sip that evolves into a smoky finish. The most amazing part though is that the high-level of alcohol doesn’t totally take over the taste. The same can’t be said for your neurons after three glasses unfortunately. 

  • Origins: Australia
  • 57.2% Alcohol

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole Select Barrel



This generously priced liquor is very sweet and boozy, perfect for when the mood strikes and you want to drink and know that you’re drinking. It stays with you even after you’ve finished your drink and are pouring another, thanks to it’s earthy, fruity, spicy characteristics.

  • Origins: Martinique
  • 40% Alcohol

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23


This is a summer’s day rum, one for the boat when the fish aren’t biting and there’s nothing to do but swap stories with the boys and occasionally doze off. You want to serve this baby chilled, with an ice-cube to dilute, and you’ll be rewarded with a host of medal-winning flavours such as toasted almond, chocolate, pepper and apricot to name but a few.

  • Origins: Guatemala
  • 40% Alcohol

Santa Teresa 1796


It’s a bit of a finicky rum this one, in the way that it might take you a while to find out the perfect ratio of rum to ice-cube. Too much and the honeyed flavours might dissipate, not enough and you’ll be left wanting more from it. It’s soft, but conversely spicy, making it one that everyone should find something to like about.   

  • Origins: Venezuela
  • 40% Alcohol

Zaya Gran Reserva 12


This is great for those of you with a sweet tooth. You’ll want to drink it neat however, with no ice, as this will cloud its primary complexities, and you’ll be missing out if you do that with papaya and candied orange at the forefront.

  • Origins: Trinidad
  • 40% Alcohol

Flor De Caña 12 Centenario


If you’ve ever experienced the joy of travelling through Central America than the name of this rum will be like an old friend to you.

It’s everywhere over there, and whilst the cheaper stuff can give you a hangover that’ll make you think someone has pulled your brain out of your ear, thrown it at a wall and then put it back in, this particular drop is a real winner.


It’s multi-faceted in its taste due to the volcanic soil that the sugarcane used to make it is grown in – which gives it a certain dryness – combined with its oak barrel ageing that lends it notes of tobacco and vanilla.

  • Origins: Nicaragua
  • 40% Alcohol

Ron Abuelo 12 Años


The Varela family who make this rum are doing fine. Not only do they have the luxury of growing their very own sugarcane to use in their products, but also one of the brothers was recently elected President of Panama.

Now, you’d be thinking that this bunch would be running a pretty tight ship and that the rum would be pretty grand – and you’d be spot on. This is a great end of night rum, with its rich, dark, sugary taste.

There’s something quite festive about it too: a good drop for a Christmas Day fishing trip with your more nautical chums.

  • Origins: Panama
  • 40% Alcohol

Afrohead 7 Year


Really, it’s the combination of a great name, funky label and tasty rum at an excellent price, which won us over with Afrohead. Rum purists might be muttering into their beards here, accusing us of lunacy and of leading crooked lives. That’s because the Harbour Island Rum Company – who make Afrohead – buy their rum from other producers to make their labels and blends. This might seem like sacrilege to the seasoned rum drinker, but, at the end of the day, this is just a damn drinkable rum that won’t have you re-mortgaging the house.  It’s spicy and rich, with banana, brown sugar and vanilla notes that really evoke the Caribbean in the mind’s eye. 

  • Origins: Trinidad
  • 40% Alcohol

Bundaberg Blenders Edition


At ninety dollars a pop, you might be thinking that a bottle of this is stretching the wallet a smidge too far. In response to this line of thinking we must retort thusly; have some bloody national pride!

Once you’ve made the purchase (and you will make the purchase, mate) please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t mix this with coke. This is world-beating rum, a champion – and we’re not just waxing lyrical here. It was voted best rum in the world at the 2016 World Drink Awards.


Why? It might have something to do with the beautiful smoky aromas of tobacco, raisins and spices, or perhaps it’s the smoothness of the finish that simply beseeches you to have just one more drink.

So, magnificent bastards of Australia, we call upon you to both support a homegrown hero and do yourself a favour, and go out there and buy a bottle of the best rum of 2016.

  • Origins: Australia
  • 40% Alcohol

Important dates for your diary:

Rum Day – 16th August 2017
International Speak Like a Pirate Day – 19th Sept 2017

  • David Schroeder

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