There’s no skull-and-cross-bones about it, we love rum—and we want you to love it too. If our favorite rums of the year, essential rums for tiki cocktails or best white rums of the world didn’t pique your interest, maybe these budget-friendly bottles will. From complex sippers, to barrel-aged spiced rums, to golden, cocktail-friendly Caribbean offerings, here are 10 amazing rums you can score for less than $30.
After it’s distilled and blended on the island of Barbados, this rum is shipped to its parent company, Pierre Ferrand, in France, where it’s aged for a minimum of five years in ex-Cognac barrels. The resulting spirit is dry and tannic with bright citrus notes and vanilla. With a complexity similar to a bourbon, it should be sipped straight or served on the rocks.
Made by the Angostura company, famed for its aromatic bitters, this rum is column-distilled and aged on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. With notes of treacle, burnt sugar, and vanilla, it finishes with an off-dry flourish. Drink it on the rocks, in a Daiquiri, or with Mexican Coke and lime for the perfect Cuba Libre. At less than $20, the company’s 5 year offering is equally as good, albeit a little hotter and less smooth on its own.
One of the oldest English sugar and spirits producers, Smith & Cross makes a distinct and delicious overproof Jamaican rum. At first sip, the spirit coats your mouth with flavors of dank, raw sugar funk, black pepper, molasses and exotic spices. Then, as it goes down, it fills your throat with a fiery blast of heat. While this rum is great on the rocks as a post-dinner sipper, or as a base in a variety of punches, it also makes for the best Planter’s Punch ever.
Made in the Dominican Republic, this reserve bottling is a blend of two rums: one aged in new American oak for a minimum of eight years and another aged in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for three years. Light and honeyed, with a bright, clean acidity, it has flavors of dried apricot and baking spices. If you’re looking to convert an Irish whiskey drinker to sugar cane spirits, this is the rum that will do it.
This spiced rum from St. Lucia Distillers is aged in ex-Kentucky Bourbon barrels for a year with indigenous Caribbean spices, including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, allspice, lemon and orange peel. The company also macerates a local aphrodisiac into the spirit, a bark known as Richeria Grandis or “Bois Bande,” which adds depth and a touch of bitterness. Deep and rich, with bold flavors of baking spices, marzipan and a peppery heat, this spiced rum is great mixed with other rums and in a variety of tiki cocktails such as the Mai Tai.
Produced in Jamaica by Appleton Estate since 1749, this blended rum is a mix of 20 different batches with an average age of about six years. Full-bodied, complex and as deeply flavorful as any bourbon or scotch, this rum shines in stirred cocktails like a Black Manhattan.
Although we have a deep affinity for Denizen’s Aged White Rum, we also hold a special place in our hearts for it’s older, refined sibling. A blend of Jamaican pot-distilled rum and aromatic, funky-fresh Rhum Grand Arome from Martinique, this unique blend is perfect for multi-rum based cocktails like the Zombie. It tastes of salted caramel and freshly grated nutmeg with a brazen funkiness.
Distilled from molasses, this briny rum is fermented in open concrete containers with wild yeast and aged for a minimum of five years in ex-bourbon barrels and charred Tennessee whiskey barrels. It has a layer of soft smokiness, accompanied by a thick aroma of molasses and notes of burnt brown sugar and cacao on the palate. Drink it neat after a heavy meal or your next luau.
On the nose this golden rum is spicy with bold whiffs of cinnamon and black pepper, while on the palate the dominant flavors are of overripe banana, toasted coconut and demerara sugar. Equally delicious on its own as it is in cocktails, it plays especially well with tropical fruit juices and coconut.
Move over Bacardi, this underrated Puerto Rican rum deserves time in the spotlight. Made in Bayamón, Puerto Rico since 1804, it’s not only the oldest rum to be produced on the island, but also the tastiest. Smooth and full-bodied, with a touch of oxidization and toasted almond nuttiness akin to a dry Amontillado sherry, this is an elegant sipping rum meant to be shared and enjoyed slowly. The next time you have to bring a bottle of rum to a dinner party, take this one.