Rum is a spirit made from sugarcane; most are made using molasses, while agricole-style rums are made using sugarcane juice. The origins of the spirit can be traced back to the Caribbean sugarcane plantations of the 17th Century with plantation owners squeezing the crop for every last penny, distilling the byproducts of sugarcane production into rum.


Fast forward to the modern day, and we have rum of different colours, styles, and flavours. Dark rums get their colour from barrels during the ageing process, white rums are typically unaged and colourless as a result. With regards to strength, there are navy proof and overproof rums; the former clocks in around 57% ABV, the latter coming in above that. Each style has its merits, some are more useful for cocktail making, others are best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Whatever your preference, we’ve rounded up the finest rums for any occasion or budget.

Best rums at a glance

  • Best Jamaican rum: Appleton Estate 12 Year Old, £44.99
  • Best XO rum: Captain Bligh, £44.03
  • Best Guyanese rum: El Dorado 12 Year Old, £37.00
  • Best Cuban rum: Havana Selección de Maestros, £56.36
  • Best dark overproof rum: Goslings Black Seal 151 proof rum, £41.99
  • Best for gifting: The Kraken Black Spiced Rum Legendary Survivor Series - The Lighthouse Keeper, £36.25
  • Best white overproof: SVS, £47.66
  • Best Japanese rum: Kiyomi, £47.89
  • Best coconut rum: Aluna, £22.99
  • Best agricole rum: Rhum JM XO, £65.94
  • Best for rum and cola: Planteray Cut and Dry, €38.99

Best rums to buy 2024

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old

Available from Amazon (£44.99), The Whiskey Exchange (£48.50)

A bottle of Appleton Estate 12 Year Old

Best Jamaican rum

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Star rating: 5/5

The Appleton Estate is Jamaican Rum; according to the history books distillation first took place on the estate way back in 1749. Situated in the lush Nassau Valley, Appleton Estate purports to be one of the only rum producers with a terroir, owing to the heavenly combination of limestone filtered spring water, a lush climate and daily showers you can set your watch to. At the helm is the legendary Dr. Joy Spence, who in 1997 became the first woman in the world to become Master Blender in the spirits industry. The Appleton 12 Year Old is said to be an expression of Dr. Spence’s passion; there’s marzipan on the nose and a robust palate, smooth with cream and peppered with baking spices. Appleton’s eight-year-old expression is another excellent choice at a lower price point, with its toffee and caramel character keeping you coming back for more.

Available from:

Captain Bligh

Available from Master of Malt (£44.03)

A bottle of Captain Bligh

Best XO rum

Star rating: 5/5

In the 19th Century, Captain William Bligh was charged with the task of cleaning up the rum trade in Australia, his mission sparking a rebellion in New South Wales. Despite his economic efforts, Captain Bligh is most remembered for being a victim of the infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty. In this bottle, his protectorate of the rum trade lives on and Captain Bligh XO has been awarded numerous gold medals, and in 2014 was named the world’s best rum. Aged around 10 years in Kentucky bourbon barrels, the nose is packed with tropical fruits and dark brown sugar; the palate is complex with more tropical fruits passing a parade of vanilla, oak, dried sultana and cinnamon.

Available from:
Master of Malt (£44.03)

El Dorado 12 Year Old

Available from Amazon (£37.00), Master of Malt (£37.00)

A bottle of El Dorado 12 Year Old

Best Guyanese rum

Star rating: 5/5

In 1595, Sir Walter Raleigh led an expedition in search of the legendary golden city of El Dorado, believing that this mythical metropolis was situated in the highlands of Guyana. While Sir Walter was left disappointed, if he’d stuck around another century or so he would’ve struck gold – liquid gold anyway. Considering the renown of Demerara sugar, it is no surprise that this Guyanese county is producing world class rums and has done for centuries. In the 1700s there were over 300 distilleries producing rum in Guyana, in the modern day the most prominent distillery in the country is producing the revered El Dorado Rum. The firm’s 12-year-old expression has a nose sweet with tropical fruits skewered with baking spices, both of which follow through to a palate mellow with caramel wrapped around vanilla and cocoa.

Available from:

Havana Selección de Maestros

Available from Master of Malt (£56.36), The Whiskey Exchange (£59.75)

A bottle of Havana Selección de Maestros

Best Cuban rum

Star rating: 5/5

Cuban rum may not be quite as famous as the island’s cigars but it is a tight-run race and Havana Club certainly makes a worthy case for respecting the island’s spirits output. Considering that in 1850 Cuba was producing a third of the world’s sugar, it is no surprise that the country is making some of the finest rum in the world. Each year the island’s Maestros de Ron gather to blend a special bottle, the multi-step process culminates in the masters of the craft identifying the finest casks on the island which are then blended and aged in new white oak barrels. The latest expression boasts a nose of candied nuts whilst the palate is slick with tobacco and baking spices with hints of cocoa.

Available from:

Goslings Black Seal 151 proof rum

Available from Master of Malt (£41.99), The Whiskey Exchange (£44.95)

A bottle of Gosling's Black Seal 151 Proof Rum

Best dark overproof rum

Star rating: 5/5

Who doesn’t love a bit of lore? Gather round. Each bottle of Goslings rum features the motif of a black seal balancing a barrel on its nose; what many may not know is that this sozzled sea creature came a long time after the rum. Trading from the 19th Century, Goslings initially sold rum direct from the barrel but roughly around the time of the First World War, the firm began decanting rum into champagne bottles reclaimed from the British officers’ mess, each bottle featuring a black wax seal. The Goslings Black Seal rum (151 proof) is an overproof variant of the core expression which packs a delicious punch. Clocking in at 75.5% ABV this surprisingly smooth pour can be summed up in two words: caramel petrol. In more words: surprisingly smooth with syrupy molasses, caramel and brown sugar dominating ahead of background cinnamon.

Available from:

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum Legendary Survivor Series - The Lighthouse Keeper

Available from Master of Malt (£36.25)

A bottle of The Kraken Black Spiced Rum Legendary Survivor Series - The Lighthouse Keeper

Best for gifting

Star rating: 5/5

The Kraken black spiced rum is the most popular black spiced rum in the country, boasting a loyal legion of fans and two flavours (black cherry and vanilla, roast coffee) alongside the core offering. Each year, this loyal legion flocks to buy the annual limited edition bottle; each coming with a new design and backstory. The series has become eminently collectible. This year’s bottle is dedicated to the only lighthouse keeper to come face to face with the mythical beast and survive. The rum itself is worthy of such dedication – syrupy molasses is carpeted with baking spices and oak, making this an ideal rum for complex cocktail and simple pairings such as with cola or ginger beer.

Available from:
Master of Malt (£36.25)


Available from Master of Malt (£48.83)

A bottle of SVS rum

Best white overproof

Star rating: 5/5

There are few rums from a setting as idyllic as Sunset Very Strong. Borne of the picturesque island of St. Vincent, this rum is a local delicacy which washed up on British shores a few years ago and has remained an 'in the know' favourite of overproof connoisseurs. 'Very Strong' is an understatement if anything; this rum clocks in at a daunting 84.5% ABV, but don’t let that put you off, this is a nuanced tipple with an incredibly satisfying oily mouthfeel, bags of marzipan in the nose and ginger and tropical fruit spilling from the palate. St Vincent locals are known to enjoy this with a splash of cold water and a squeeze of lime and who are we to argue?

Available from:
Master of Malt (£48.83)

Kiyomi Japanese rum

Available from Amazon (£47.89), Master of Malt (£48.24)

A bottle of Kiyomi Japanese Rum

Best Japanese rum

Star rating: 4/5

Translated from Japanese into English as ‘pure beauty’, Kiyomi is worthy of the moniker after one glance of the bottle. Featuring a distinctive four leg design and elaborate embossing this a bottle elegant enough to hold onto after it has been thoroughly enjoyed. The rum itself hails from Okinawa, Japan’s foremost sugar producing region. Distillation began in 1961 when American GIs stationed on the island began clamouring for rum and the enterprising Mr Tadashi Matsuda was happy to oblige. Light and floral with a smoky shadow, orchard fruits and juicy citrus also run through the palate.

Available from:

Aluna coconut rum

Available from Amazon (£22.99)

A bottle of Aluna Coconut Rum

Best coconut rum

Star rating: 4/5

Rum is associated with island life, the Caribbean and tropical fruits, most prominently coconuts. This rum takes the step of pouring that delicious coconut essence straight into the bottle. Aluna coconut rum is made using a blend of Guatemalan and Caribbean rums, combined with fresh coconut water and toasted coconut. The result is a refreshing pour and a slick and satisfying mouthfeel with coconut unsurprisingly stealing the show. This rum is a delight over ice but is screaming out to be poured into a pina colada.

Available from:
Amazon (£22.99)

Rhum JM XO

Available from Master of Malt (£65.94)

A bottle of Rhum JM XO

Best agricole rum

Star rating: 4/5

Rhum JM is unique in this list as the only agricole rum – a rum made using sugarcane juice as opposed to molasses; the name belying its origin in the French Caribbean islands. Rhum JM hails from Martinique, at the foot of the scenic Mount Pelée. The distillery is perfectly located for rum production with the nearby River Roches providing mineral rich volcanic filtered water used for soaking sugarcane. The Rhum JM XO has gingerbread on the nose along with flashes of citrus. The palate is juicy with tropical fruit whilst ginger reappears alongside vanilla, an expertly blended and balanced rhum.

Available from:
Master of Malt (£65.94)

Planteray Cut and Dry coconut rum

Available from Home of Malts (€38.99)

A bottle of Planteray Cut and Dry Coconut Rum

Best rum and cola

Star rating: 4/5

In January 2023, Plantation Rum rebranded as Planteray and the Cut and Dry coconut rum was the first release under the new label. There is a whole coconut used per litre of Planteray Cut and Dry, each being hand picked before being cut, dried and infused with the rum. Landing on the perfect recipe took the distillery some time and a number of attempts – 97 of them, in fact. The result is the ideal rum to pair with cola; it's overflowing with coconut and vanilla with a peppering of ginger providing some punch to the palate.

Available from:
Home of Malts (€38.99)

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