Top Rum: Top 10 Caribbean Rums

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
April 30, 2010

Words by Eddie STATS Houghtonโ€”


Fools have been making moonshine from different forms of sugar since caveman days but the particular process of fermenting molasses–making alcoholic gold from the by-product of industrial sugar refining–was invented by plantation slaves of African descent, most likely in Barbados. That makes rum one of the Caribbeanโ€™s truly distinctive contributions to world civilization alongside steel drumsย  and daggering. Like many of these other innovations, Rum didnโ€™t take long to conquer the rest of the world. In the 1700s rum was so in demand that it was accepted in place of gold as a universal currency and may have actually caused revolutions from America to Australia. In fact, whether or not he grew hemp in his backyard, it is a matter of historical record that founding father George Washington curried votes in his run for president with open bars on a rum-punch called Bumbo. If he’d been Irish his nickname woulda been “Bumbo Red.” Bim! But anyway, on to the list…

The title should actually be: Top 10 rums in my life (so far). Because rum has more variety than any other class of spirit, classifying the best is a highly subjective operation. My personal rule of thumb is dark but not too dark, the sweet spot being in the goldy-brown range of the spectrum. I definitely prefer something that tastes like it was made from brown sugar instead of a) wood or b) anonymous grain alchohol. I fully understand the central place of overproof white rum to the Caribbean experience but for my money these substances are better suited for cleaning your house, sterilizing wounds and/or driving away evil spirits. Unless you are already blind, in which case: dumb out.

Partly for that reason and partly just because it is not easy to draw a line between them, I have included some Latin American rums, but not North American or Brazilian cachaca, which although it is technically a form of rum is another whole category. Also these are all premium rums that are still relatively affordable/orderable in a decent bar. (Emphasis on decent. In spite of rum’s resurgent trendiness, the rum selection in most Manhattan bars is still fucking abysmal. Mixologists please take note!)