The best dark rum taste tested
Dark rum is usually distilled from sugarcane molasses and is perfect in an old fashioned cocktail. Read our expert review of the best bottles to buy, including brands such as Havana Club and Appleton Estate.
Rum is a spirit with a multitude of classifications. There are white rums, spiced rums, dark rums and overproof rums. Which umbrella a rum falls under is determined by everything from colour to strength and ingredients. To confuse matters further, a rum can fit into a couple of different categories at once.
What is dark rum?
A dark rum is one that has been barrel-aged, typically for a longer period than its golden and white counterparts.
We’ve been taking a long look at dark rum, a spirit category fast catching up with whisky in terms of prestige. While many uninitiated drinkers may see rum as nothing more than a cocktail base, there is a whole world out there of complex spirits just waiting to be sipped and savoured.
Made using sugarcane molasses, rum is one of the oldest spirits in the world. It has an uncomfortable history fraught with slavery and conquest, but rum’s present and future is full of vibrancy and life.
There's a rum out there for everybody, from the hearty navy strength to the light and dry Cuban tipples. Here, we present the best dark rums on the market and have picked a bottle for every taste and budget. Get your ice ready, your feet up and your cigars clipped...
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Best dark rum to buy at a glance
- Best standard rum: Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, £54.95
- Best Venezuelan rum: Diplomático Seleccion de Familia, £52.45
- Best classic rum: Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum, £55
- Best cuban rum: Ron La Progesiva 13, £43.95
- Best sweet rum: Appleton Estate 8-Year-Old Reserve, £30
- Best thick rum: Equiano Rum, £40.99
- Best spicy rum: El Dorado 12-Year-Old, £36.95
- Best smooth rum: Best Captain Bligh XO, £51
- Best fiery rum: Black Tot Rum, £42
- Best traditional rum: Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Black Label, £35.99
Best dark rum to buy 2023
Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros (45% ABV)
Best standard rum
Cuban rum by those who know it best. This barrel proof bottle is packed with burned sugar, dried fruits, leather and tobacco. A deep, dark, complex rum with just the right amount of pep... it's a bottle worthy of the maestros who blended it. Read our full Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros review.
Diplomático Seleccion de Familia (43% ABV)
Best Venezuelan rum
Premium Venezuelan rum with a cult following. This distillery situated at the foot of the Andes is as at one with its environment as it is with its rum and that shows in the freshness and complexity of the product. This bottle is gentle yet punchy in the right places with vanilla and exotic fruits blanketing a layer of baking spices and muted white pepper. Read our full Diplomático Seleccion de Familia review.
Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum (40% ABV)
Best classic rum
A faithful replication of one of this revered distillery’s greatest hits. Gosling’s Family Reserve seeks to honour the 'old rum' that kept the Bermudan population buzzing after World War I. Bitter cocoa and black pepper play against bright orange and orchard fruits in this vibrant, complex classic. Read our full Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum review.
Ron La Progesiva 13 (41% ABV)
- Available from Master of Malt (£43.95)
Best cuban rum
A distinctly Cuban rum that's immensely proud of its Cuban heritage. Out of the famous Vigia bodega, this aims to offer to the people the premium sipping rum once reserved for the elites of the island. Full of caramel and toffee, tart orange and baking spices, this is a delight over ice. Read our full Ron La Progesiva 13 review.
Appleton Estate 8-Year-Old Reserve (43% ABV)
Best sweet rum
The 8-Year-Old Reserve, made to commemorate the distillery's 250th anniversary, is light and fruity, with pineapple and vanilla notes that evoke the tropical climate in which it is made. Read our full Appleton Estate 8-Year-Old Reserve review.
El Dorado 12-Year-Old (40% ABV)
Best spicy rum
This is a Guyanese rum from a mythical distillery. The bottle comes from the place that gave us demerara sugar, and it doesn't disappoint on that front. The El Dorado 12-Year-Old marries vanilla and baking spices with dollops of burnt sugar and squeezed dark fruits. Read our full El Dorado 12-Year-Old review.
Equiano Rum (43% ABV)
Best thick rum
Equiano is named after Olaudah Equiano, a former slave, freedom fighter and one of the 18th century’s most important writers. It's a smooth and thick rum, with butterscotch and toffee paired against dry oak and milky chocolate. Read our full Equiano Rum review.
Captain Bligh XO (40% ABV)
- Available from Master of Malt (£40)
Best smooth rum
An award-winning rum with a pirate theme, named after the famous mutiny victim Captain Bligh. This bottle comes from the idyllic island of St Vincent, and is smooth, with vanilla and honey dominating. But, it's also kept lively by punchy pepper and bitter coffee notes. Read our full Captain Bligh XO review.
Master of Malt (£40)
Black Tot Rum (46.2% ABV)
Best fiery rum
A bottle that commemorates one of the saddest days in the Royal Navy’s modern history – the day the daily ration of rum for sailors finally ended. This bottle pays homage to the old navy rums that warmed the bellies of sailors for centuries, drawing on flavours that define the islands the rum came from: tropical fruits meet ginger and fiery chilli, modulated by deep, dark cocoa. Read our full Black Tot Rum review.
Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Black Label (54.5%)
- Available from Master of Malt (£35.99)
Best traditional rum
This rum is about as close as you’ll get to the tipple that ruled the seven seas for centuries. Named in honour of a naval tradition that helped prove the rum wasn’t watered down, this bottle is thick with dried fruits, pepped-up by bright citrus notes. Read our full Pusser's Gunpowder Proof Black Label review.
Master of Malt (£35.99)
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This review was last updated in September 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.