Rum is a distilled spirit made by fermenting and distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. It’s then bottled and sold as white rum or matured in oak barrels (and sometimes spiced). Rum is made almost everywhere in the world where sugarcane is grown. Obviously, the Caribbean and places like Jamaica, Barbados, and Puerto Rico lead the way. But plenty of rum is also produced in the United States, the Philippines, and elsewhere.
Compared to spirits like whiskey, tequila, and even mezcal, rum is generally fairly inexpensive. Sure, there are long-matured, limited-release expressions that fetch as high as the equivalent of a mortgage payment, but there are myriad bargain rums that taste like their more expensive counterparts.
These dark and white rums have price tags that won’t make you blink yet taste like they should. They’re nuanced, flavorful, well-made rums that, for whatever reason, just aren’t all that expensive.
Prices may vary depending on where you live. Average prices are drawn from wine-searcher.com.
Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
Barbados’ Mount Gay is the oldest rum distillery in the world with a genesis in 1703. It makes many different expressions including many more expensive offerings, but its Mount Gay Eclipse Rum is one of the best bargains on the market. Named for the solar eclipse visible in Barbados in 1910, it’s a blend known for its flavor profile of vanilla beans, banana peels, rich oak, buttery caramel, and gentle spices.
Cruzan Aged Dark Rum
One of the best bargains on the market, Cruzan Aged Dark Rum from St. Croix is a blend of mature rums between two and four years old. Each was aged in charred oak barrels. The result is a sublimely mellow, sipping and mixing rum with flavors of rich oak, honey, vanilla, and light spices. All for a surprisingly low price of (usually) less than $20 for a 750ml bottle.
Flor de Caña 4 Extra Seco Rum
This Nicaragua-produced rum is aged in small oak ex-bourbon barrels that are sealed with plantain leaves. The distillers believe the volcanic, tropical climate helps to impart numerous flavors including creamy chocolate, candied orange peels, sweet bourbon, dried fruits, candied nuts, and vanilla beans. It’s warming, dry, and perfect as a slow sipper or mixed into your favorite cocktail.
Myers’s Dark Rum
Even if you’re a novice rum drinker, you’ve probably heard of Myer’s. Founded in 1879, Myer’s Dark Rum is made using only pure Jamaican molasses. Distilled in continuous and pot stills, it’s aged in charred white oak casks. It’s then blended, creating a rich, smooth rum with notes of pipe tobacco, caramel, fresh leather, dried fruits, chocolate, and rich oak.
Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum
First launched in 1999 and named for then Chairman Laurie Barnard, this St. Lucia-produced rum is a blend of copper pot still and coffey column still distilled rums that were matured separately in ex-bourbon barrels before aging again in oak vats together. This is St. Lucian Rums’ flagship expression and its known for its bold flavors of caramelized banana, toffee, vanilla, dried fruits, and gentle spices. It’s sweet, spicy, and sippable for a surprisingly low price.
Pusser’s Blue Label Rum
Also known as British Navy Pusser’s Rum Original Admiralty Rum, the brand gets its name because when the British Navy stopped the daily rum ration in 1970, Pusser’s stepped in nine years later with this brand using the original Royal Navy recipe featuring five different West Indian rums. Pusser’s Blue label is known for its notes of toffee, tropical fruits, vanilla, and light spices. It’s sweet, spicy, and perfect for mixed drinks.
Captain Morgan Private Stock Rum
Everyone knows all about Captain Morgan and his stance with his knee up as he stands on a barrel of rum. Most drinkers also know that most of the rums made by this brand are fairly cheap and not all that noteworthy. That is except for Captain Morgan Private Stock, a rum that tastes much more expensive than it is. This spiced rum is known for its flavor profile of bananas, tropical fruits, vanilla, sweet molasses, and candied nuts.
Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
Sometimes overproof rum can be quite harsh and, when not mixed with very flavorful ingredients, downright undrinkable. This is not the case with Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum. For about $24 you can get a small-batch, un-aged 63 percent rum that’s loaded with notes over candied walnuts, ripe bananas, molasses, and vanilla cream. At such a high proof, you definitely should mix this if not add a healthy splash or three of water.
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
This Bermuda-made dark rum is made using a recipe dating back more than 150 years. Made from a blend of charred oak matured pot still rums, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum is the base for Bermuda’s official drink: The Dark ‘n Stormy. Perfect for that drink and many others, it’s a complex rum with notes of caramelized bananas, dried fruits, vanilla, molasses, bold, oaky wood.
Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum
O.F.T.D. stands for “Old Fashioned Traditional Dark”. It’s a 69 percent dark rum made from a blend of rums for Guyana, Jamaica, and Barbados. The nose is all candied orange peels, dried fruit, and coffee beans and the palate is s symphony of chocolate, vanilla beans, cinnamon sugar, molasses cookies, oak, dried fruits, and buttery caramel. This is another rum that you’d be smart to drink mixed into a cocktail, with a healthy amount of ice, or a large pour of water. It’s quite potent.