We used to think of rum as an easy party drink; pick up a mickey (dark or light, didn’t matter) plus two litres of cola and you’re set. Or, as the booze that came in the daiquiri we ordered at the resort’s swim-up bar. Now, finally, premium rums are picking up where whisky left off, and coming into their own—so good they deserve to be sipped on their own, straight up or on rocks, with no mixers or sweet cocktail fixings required. Best of all, every brand offers a unique take based on geography, maturation method and distillation. —Catherine Dunwoody
flor de caña 12. This liquid luxury (with a commitment to sustainability, it happens to be the world’s first and only carbon-neutral and Fair Trade Certified rum brand) obtains its uniquely smooth, rich taste from aging at the base of an active volcano and only contains rum aged for 12 years—no blends! Try a Flor Fashioned or a Flor Ginger and you’ll taste the premium quality offered by the only rum approved by Mother Nature.
saint james agricole royal ambre. This French rum has intense aromas of caramel, nutmeg and vanilla, plus notes of brown sugar, spice, raisins and a bit of smoke.
bumbu craft rum. This small-batch Barbados rum, rumoured to be a favourite of sailors and seaside merchants in the colonial West Indies, is blended with spices that evoke the rich and colourful history of the Caribbean.
don papa. Produced with a molasses base from an old strain of sugar cane and often referred to as “black gold”, Don Papa from the Philippines deserves a spot in your bar cart.
lemon hart & sons blackpool spiced rum. This award winner is a British-style single-estate distilled classic with Bourbon barrel notes of exotic dried fruit, island spices and vanilla bean.
ron abuelo rum 12 year old. This well-rounded teenage rum is aged in American Oak barrels with deep notes of dried fruit.
tommy bahama no. 2. That bottle though! Inspired by Cuba’s easy-sipping rums, this beauty is distilled in Central America in white American Oak barrels.
plantation isle of fiji. First aged in in bourbon casks, then sailed from Fiji to the southwest of France for a second maturation in French oak casks, Plantation Isle of Fiji is a rum worth considering.