10 Surprising Caribbean Rums

Picking the 10 best Caribbean rums is impossible. During my on-the-ground search, I found a rum that was more than 50 years old, one that cost $25,000 a bottle, and one that's 73 percent alcohol (146 proof!); rums that took my breath away, and ones I wanted to sip and savor. I asked for help from Juan del Busto — an international rum judge and collector with 1,500 different bottles on his shelves — to help me choose 10 top surprising rums that are 1) well-priced (maybe even undervalued) for their quality, 2) available in the U.S., and 3) distilled in the Caribbean. — Ann Vanderhoof

Appleton Estate Reserve
Jamaica's Appleton Estate has been winning gold medals since the 1862 London Exhibition. A blend of 20 rums from traditional copper pot stills, the Reserve is up to double duty as a mixer and a sipper. | Appleton Estate
Rhum Barbancourt Special Reserve
The buttery 8-year-old is my preference for its value; Juan prefers the 15-year-old Reserve du Domain. These Haitian rums can be hard to find in North America, though, since production is low. | Rhum Barbancourt
Doorly's Fine Old Barbados Rum (XO)
An alternative to Mount Gay's Extra Old, this sipper is also well-priced for the taste. It's aged in used whiskey barrels and then finished in Orolosso sherry casks. | Doorly's
Flor de Caña 7-year-old Grand Reserve
Rich with vanilla-toffee flavor, this Nicaraguan kicks cocktails up a notch. If you find it a little rough for sipping, step up to Flor de Caña's Cenetario 12 or 18 year old rum. | Flor de Caña
Bacardi Superior Rum
Surprisingly complex for a mixing rum, this Puerto Rican rum is hard to beat for cocktails. It's aged at least a year, then filtered for a "clean" taste. | Bacardi
Zacapa XO
Luckily, Guatemala has a teensy sliver of Caribbean coastline, so we can include this special-occasion rum from Zacapa. A blend of 6–25 year-olds, it's given extra aging in French Cognac barrels. | Zacapa Rum
Zafra Master Reserve
A perfectly balanced blend of aged Panama rums, brought together by a master blender from Cuba. It's a terrific taste at a terrific price. | Zafra Rum
Zaya Grand Reserve
A sleeper from Trinidad, this smooth, smoky 12 year old rum fooled me into thinking it was older. Originally distilled in Guatemala. | Zaya
El Dorado's Special Reserves
Guyana's only producer ages blends from its traditional column and pot stills in whiskey and bourbon casks. I'll take the rich spicy-sweet 12-year-old over the 15-year-old any day. Others prefer the 21-year-old. | El Dorado Rum