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

Havana Club Añejo 7 Años

Havana Club Añejo 7 Años

Look for this mellow, made-in-Cuba rum when you travel, but be warned: It’s not part of the Puerto-Rico-distilled Havana Club line from Bacardi. Havana Club
Appleton Estate Reserve

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

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

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