10 Rums Everyone Should Have

The Blowlamp

Drinking rum is the paragon of happiness.

This sugar-blessed potion comes in a prismatic spray of variety that has prompted more grail-like quests to hunt down rare bottles than than any other spirit. There are over 175 different rums available in the U.S. alone, and that’s ignoring all the bubblegum and foie gras-flavored (yes please) demons.

But what if you could only afford to have a handful of different brands in your regular stock?

How to Pick?

After culling the horde of rums available, our team of experts has compiled a list of 10 rums that are essential for the pursuit of good cocktail making. And though what lies below is one of the best representations of sexy rum I’ve ever seen, you’ll surely find something amiss. So don’t hesitate to simply skip the rest of this post and go flame me in the comments. Cheers!

10 Rums Everyone Should Have

  1. Lemonhart 151
  2. Smith and Cross
  3. Zacapa 23
  4. Appleton V/X (or Extra
  5. Rhum Clement VSOP
  6. El Dorado 15
  7. Rhum Neisson Blanc
  8. El Dorado 3
  9. Rhum Barbancourt 8
  10. Wray and Nephew Overproof

Three overproof rums made the list (though admittedly, I bumped JWray up a bit, as I’m not sure how anyone could live without it). But beyond that, this is the best of what rum has to offer. Even so, a few categories were left behind: a really rich dark Jamaican, a spiced, and though not necessarily a category, blackstrap.

Honorable Mention

  • Coruba
  • Cruzan Blackstrap
  • Kracken (or Old New Orleans Spiced)

I urge you to try the following monstrosity. It is surely proof that if you keep adding ingredients to a tiki drink, it only gets better. Or maybe you don’t believe me and think I just created this in my mind realizing no one would be able to make it…

The Blowlamp

  • 1oz Appleton Extra
  • 1oz Kraken
  • 1/2oz Wray and Nephew overproof
  • 1/4oz Fernet Branca
  • 1oz Dolin Blanc
  • 1oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2oz lime juice
  • 1/2oz vanilla syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 8 drops Herbsaint Legendre
  • grapefruit twist, for garnish

Shake with crushed ice, grab your scepter, and donate to a glass by casting Nailed to the Sky.

Rick from Kaiser Penguin

The Experts’ Data

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry

  • Lemon Hart 151 Demerara
  • El Dorado 5 year Demerara
  • Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican
  • Appleton Reserve or V/X gold Jamaican
  • Rhum Clement VSOP amber Martinique
  • Flor De Cana Extra Dry white (PR Spanish-style substitute)
  • Flor De Cana 5 year or 7 year gold (PR Spanish-style substitute)
  • Rhum Barbancourt five star amber Haitian
  • Cockspur Fine gold Barbados
  • Old New Orleans spiced rum

Wayne Curtis

  • Lemon Hart 151
  • Smith and Cross
  • Flor de Cana 18
  • Barbancourt 8 yr
  • Zacapa 23
  • Santa Teresa 1796
  • Prichard’s white rum
  • El Dorado 21
  • J.M Rhum Vieux VSOP
  • Rhum Neisson blanc

Ed Hamilton, Ministry of Rum

  • Lemon Hart 151 Demerara (This isn’t available so it is going to drink a lot of people nuts, like me, who will be asked where they can get this. The Lemon Hart in Canada isn’t Demerara anymore)
  • El Dorado 5 year Demerara
  • Appleton Reserve or V/X gold Jamaican
  • Neisson Eleve Sous Bois or Neisson Blanc
  • El Dorado 3 yr old white
  • Flor De Cana 5 year or 7 year gold (PR Spanish-style substitute)
  • Rhum Barbancourt five star amber Haitian
  • Mount Gay Sugar Cane Rum
  • Don Q Añejo
  • Santa Teresa Gran Reserva

Tiare Olsen, A Mountain of Crushed Ice

  • El Dorado 15
  • El Dorado 3
  • Appleton Extra
  • ONO cajun spiced
  • Zacapa 23
  • Banks XM10
  • LH151
  • Coruba dark
  • Clément VSOP
  • Barbancourt 5 star

Gabe Szaszko, cocktailnerd

  • Appleton V/X
  • Smith & Cross
  • El Dorado 12yo
  • Lemon Hart 151
  • Oronoco
  • JWNO
  • Rhum Clemente Vieux Agricole
  • Angostura 1919
  • Zacapa 23yo
  • ONO Spiced Rum
  • Cruzan Blackstrap (hmm, Gabe can’t count very well)

Matt Robold, RumDood

  • Smith & Cross
  • El Dorado 15 Year Old
  • El Dorado 3 Year Old White
  • Coruba Dark
  • Appleton Estate Extra (12 year)
  • Appleton Estate V/X
  • Neisson Blanc
  • Clement VSOP
  • Barbancourt 8 Year Old
  • Mount Gay Extra Old

Martin Cate, Smuggler’s Cove

  • El Dorado 3
  • El Dorado 15
  • Appleton Estate Reserve
  • Rhum JM Blanc
  • Neisson ESB
  • Mount Gay Sugar Cane
  • Coruba
  • Zacapa
  • Smith & Cross
  • Barbancourt 5 Star

Blair Reynolds

  • El Dorado 15
  • Lemon Hart 151
  • Clement Premiere Canne
  • Smith & Cross
  • Matusalem Platino
  • Cruzan Blackstrap
  • Ron Zacapa Centenario 23
  • Appleton Extra
  • Mount Gay XO
  • Appleton V/X

Craig Hermann, Colonel Tiki

  • Smith & Cross
  • Ron Zacapa 23
  • El Dorado 15
  • Rhum Clement VSOP
  • Appleton Extra
  • Lemonhart 151
  • Mount Gay Extra Old
  • Rhum Barbancourt (5 * or up)
  • Cockspur 12
  • Orinoco Silver

Rick Stutz, Kaiser Penguin

  • appleton extra
  • ED15
  • LH151
  • JWray
  • ED3
  • Coruba
  • blackstrap
  • zacapa 23
  • kracken
  • rhum neisson blanc

KP Question

  • What are the 10 rums you couldn’t live without?

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.