In a world of fleeting trends and fickle tastes, rum stands tall. A timeless spirit, it acts as a chameleon, effortlessly blending into fruity tropical concoctions or being sipped neat where its complex, layered flavors can be fully appreciated. This versatility has fueled a global rum boom that has seen a tidal wave of products hit the market.
One area where this boom is most pronounced is in the super-premium rum category, which has seen double-digit growth over the last several years. It is composed mainly of elegantly aged rums designed to be enjoyed straight with no mixers and has provided drinkers with a bevy of exceptional bottles across a broad pricing spectrum.
Trying to lay one’s hands upon the “best” bottles on the market can be a confusing task. To simplify this effort, we turned to the experts at the world’s most preeminent international spirits competitions to see what they deemed the best bottles of 2023, much like we did with bourbons a few weeks ago. These events see distillers send in their very best bottles that are blind taste tested by industry experts. Who better to point a drinker in the right direction?
Here are the sipping rums that they deemed were the finest of 2023. Any one of these five bottles should transport you to the sunny beaches and sandy shores where rum rules.
Bodegas Papiamento Rum Caribbean Carnival
While many drinkers might be surprised that a rum from the tiny Caribbean island of Aruba took home the title of Rum of the Year at the London Spirits Competition it shouldn’t have shocked anyone. Nestled just off the coast of rum powerhouse Venezuela, the distillers of Aruba have been turning out fine-sipping rums for decades. Bodegas Papiamento Caribbean Carnival Rum is a limited edition bottling constructed from a blend of different rums that were aged for eight years in a combination of old and new world barrels to create a mixture that captures the vibrant and festive atmosphere of the region.
Renegade Rum Single Farm Origin: Hope
For several years, the award-winning team behind Renegade Rum has tirelessly worked to change the conversation surrounding rum. Working in the Rhum Agricole style, which translates to “agriculture” in French, they focus on producing rums that focus on the terrior that the cane used to distill their rums grows in. In their Single Farm Origin: Hope bottling, they introduce drinkers to the raw flavors inherent in rum before the aging process begins to mellow them down. Apparently, they are doing something right, as evidenced by the swath of accolades they took home at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It was named Best In Show Unaged White Spirit, Best In Class Overall Rum, and Best In Class Rhum Agricole.
Pampero Aniversario Rum
Taking home the Best In Show Aged White Award at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition only added to the accolades that have been showered on Pampero Aniversario Rum. Made at an 85-year-old distillery in Caracas, Venezuela, Pampero Rum has long been the fabled bottle of rum that aficionados searched out while on visiting the Caribbean region. Its Aniversario Rum has been released annually for over six decades to celebrate the rum house’s 25th Anniversary. Made from a blend of four and five-year-old rums aged in sherry casks and bourbon barrels, its complex, layered flavors make it an ideal sipper.
Beenleigh Artesian Distillers Double Cask Rum
By being named the Rum Of The Year at the Bartender Spirits Awards, Beenleigh Artesian Distillers Double Cask Rum added another accolade to one of the rising stars in the spirits world, Australia. Yes, the Land Down Under has quietly turned heads across the globe as its distillers turn out talked-about whiskeys, gins, vodkas, and even rums. The fact that the only competition designed to highlight products that the world’s bartenders pour named Beenleigh’s rum the best only cements its status. Made by Australia’s oldest registered distillery, its Double Cask Rum is made from five aged rums that benefit from historic kauri pine vats, Australian brandy vats, and ex-bourbon casks to create a smooth drinking rum.
Black Tot Masters Blender’s Reserve Rum 2022
At fifty-four years old, the International Wine & Spirits Competition is the regal queen of all the annual spirits awards events. So, taking home the Rum Trophy at the event is a significant event in the lifetime of any brand. Black Tot Masters Blender’s Reserve Rum 2022 is a molasses-based navy rum that oozes with flavors. Made from blending stocks from Guyana, Trinidad, Jamacia, and Barbados, it is the third iteration of the Master Blender’s Reserve. It incorporates liquid from its predecessors into the blend. The judges at the event loved it, and here is what they had to say about it.
“Soft and exceptionally poised with aromas of bruised and caramelized bananas combining with richly indulgent Demerara sugar on the nose. Chocolate flows through intricate layers of tropical fruit on the complex palate, with a beautiful oak integration that delivers an enduring and delightful finish.”