The right Caribbean rum is often the perfect answer for anyone pining for a tropical escape any time of year. And you don’t always have to jump on the next flight to an island to find it and enjoy a cocktail or nice neat pour of a quality spirit (though if you’re looking for a travel excuse, these rums and more are far easier to obtain on their home islands). These Caribbean rums will add some flair to your bar cart that you’ll find reaching for again and again.
Appleton Estate 12 Year Rare Casks Rum
If you’ve traveled to the Caribbean, there’s a good chance you sipped a fruity cocktail or four at a swim-up bar. Sandals Montego Bay is credited as the first resort to bring swim-up bars to the Caribbean in 1981, and it has since become an amenity that people have come to expect from a certain type of resort. Recently, I traveled to the newly-opened Sandals Dunn’s River and headed to Dunn’s Rum Club, where I was able to sample several Jamaican rums. Appleton Estate 12 Year Rare Casks Rum was the sip that won me over, with notes of toasted oak, dark cocoa, vanilla, orange peel, and that signature hit of molasses. Crafted by Appleton Estate’s master blender Joy Spence, this robust rum can easily be sipped on the rocks, but the slightly bitter notes make it especially useful in a rum-based espresso martini.Learn More
Candela Mamajuana Spiced Rum
Between water usage and CO2 emissions, the alcohol and spirits industry has devastating environmental impacts. If you’re looking to imbibe while minimizing the planet’s damage, look no further than Candela Mamajuana Spiced Rum. The blend of ultra-premium Dominican rum, natural spices, and honey is an ideal spirit for those who want a feel-good rum, not only for its sweet, smooth flavor, but for the company’s values. From using rainwater as a form of renewable energy to their sugarcane being grown right down the road, Candela is as farm-to-bottle as they could possibly be.
Being sustainable doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or quality, and you’ll find this rum a little too easy to drink, with honey, rosewood, and warming spices. Candela Mamajuana makes for an obvious addition to a spiked apple cider, or in a coquito with the brand’s holiday coquito set.Learn More
Guavaberry Liqueur of Saint Martin
Not to be confused with guavas, guavaberry is a rare blueberry-sized fruit native to the island of Saint Martin. Dating back centuries ago, guavaberry rum was originally made in people’s homes, and has since become the national drink of the island. Guavaberry was especially celebrated during the holidays, where locals would chant, “Good morning, good morning; ah, come fo meh guavaberry.”
While a bit of an exception since this is a liqueur rather than a straight or spiced rum, it’s a worthy inclusion. Made from aged rum, cane sugar, and wild guavaberry, this deeply purple-hued liqueur is naturally fruity with woody and bitter notes. Guavaberry liqueur is great in a daiquiri or a colada, but for a more elegant sip, add one ounce to sparkling wine for a guavaberry kir. While the distillery ships to certain states, the best way to get your hands on a bottle is at a Colombier Tradition in Saint Martin.Learn More
Mount Gay Silver Rum
No Caribbean spirits list is complete without mentioning the MVP island of rum: Barbados. Barbados is where the Caribbean’s most popular spirit was birthed, and people there celebrate their esteemed accolade each year with the annual Barbados Food & Rum Festival. Whether you head to the Food & Rum Fest or not, a popular activity in Barbados is a Mount Gay distillery tour, where you can taste some of the world’s oldest rum. The first pour is likely to be Mount Gay Silver Rum, an unaged white rum that packs a serious punch. Created by master blender Trudian Baker, Mount Gay Silver Rum has a strong floral and citrus aroma with butterscotch and toffee tasting notes. While the distillery’s unaged offering can be purchased and shipped to the States through Cask Cartel, it’s primarily only available on the island of Barbados unlike the more widely available aged bottles.Learn More
Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum
For a classic, go-to rum, go for Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum. Native to the majestic island of Saint Lucia, I was first introduced to Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum while on a chocolate and rum tasting at Windjammer Landing Resort & Residences. Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum is made with a blend of rums which are aged separately in both Coffey column and copper pot stills before resting in oak vats for six months. The final product has a strong presence of caramelized bananas, with chocolate, tobacco, and golden raisin notes. Chairman’s Reserve does not put an age statement on any of their rum bottles, but the average age of Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum is five years. Do like the Saint Lucians do and pair it with different chocolates to bring out different flavor profiles.Learn More