Get to Know These Delicious Spiced Rums

If the phrase “delicious spiced rum” seems like an oxymoron, chances are you had a bad run-in with the spirit in college or one-too-many tropical drinks at a mediocre resort bar. We feel your pain. Lots of spiced rums on the market are laden with sugar, artificial flavors and coloring, which makes both the drinking experience and the resulting hangover extremely unpleasant. But not all spiced rums are created equal, so we decided to defend the good stuff by highlighting our favorite bottles. These spectacular craft spirits will help change your mind about spiced rum.

Don Q Barrel-Aged Spiced Rum ($29.99, coming January 2017)

This barrel-aged expression is the brand’s first foray into the spiced category. Master Blender Silvia Santiago uses a mix of Puerto Rican rums, the youngest of which is three years old, and ages the blend further in American white oak barrels. The resulting liquid is pleasantly sweet with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, caramel cream and honey. Drink this one on the rocks following a good meal.

Chairman’s Reserve is a world-class rum to begin with, so we had no doubts that their spiced version would be amazing. It’s a perfectly balanced spirit, which the St. Lucia distillers achieve by steeping some ingredients for a year and waiting to add others during the blending process. The rum is distilled in a copper alembic pot and continuous stills, before the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla, coconut, allspice, lemon, orange and Bois Bande—a Caribbean bark known for its aphrodisiac properties. It’s finished in Kentucky bourbon barrels for a round, complex finish. Sip this exotic libation solo or mix it in a tropical Kona Swizzle.

Cardinal Spirits uses their highly-rated Tiki Rum as the base for their new spiced version. It’s made in small batches and distilled from cane juice, light molasses, sweet hefeweizen yeast and yeast found on wild sugarcane, before it’s infused with orange peel, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and a secret ingredient that ties everything together. The result is a surprisingly dry, balanced spiced rum that sips perfectly on its own, works well in tropical cocktails, and is a perfect match for the Cuba Libre.

This dark, mysterious rum was named after a mythical sea beast that, legend has it, attacked a ship carrying one of the largest quantities of rum ever from the Caribbean islands. Though this tale is most likely folklore, the delicious black spiced rum inside Kraken’s vintage-style bottle is real and delicious. A nutty vanilla and coffee nose gives way to sweet, spicy tasting notes of cola, espresso, caramel, cloves and gingerbread. A long, peppery finish makes this the perfect spirit for spiking hot chocolate.