If you can’t be bothered to shake or stir a cocktail and would rather enjoy your rum in an unadulterated state, this 18-year-old bottling from Nicaraguan distillery Flor de Caña is a wonderful choice. There’s no shortage of depth—you’ll catch notes of everything from banana and baking spices to caramel and dried fruit—and it will keep you coming back for more. It’s just a bonus that this luscious rum costs a reasonable $50, so it won’t put a serious dent in your bank account.
Some may scoff at mixing good rum with soda. But one should never feel guilty about drowning a shot of rum in Coke (or any other fizzy, sugary drink)—the pairing is a classic for a reason. A bottom shelf rum will add a harsh aftertaste, so it’s worth finding a well-made option that will instead shine through and enhance your drink’s flavor. Angostura’s 5 Year rum is a great candidate for mixing with Coke and whatever other sodas your heart desires. It has the advantage of spending a few years in barrel to achieve a warm and mellow flavor that enhances drinks and doesn’t get lost.
While we’d certainly prefer drinking cocktails or sipping on a fine aged rum, sometimes shots happen—and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s important to make sure you’re still drinking a rum that tastes good; just because it goes down quick doesn’t mean the flavor doesn’t linger. Though black rum may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking for a shooter, this option from Kraken is the perfect bottle to have on hand for such occasions. Richer and more well-rounded than some its spiced counterparts, Kraken tastes great and is plenty affordable. Plus, if you’re ever in the mood for a slower sip, it mixes seamlessly into simple cocktails like the Dark ‘N’ Stormy or with tonic.
For those who only drink on special occasions or for drinkers who just like dropping top dollar on great booze, this pricey release from Guyana-based distillery El Dorado hits all the marks: It comes in at a cool $500, boasts 25 years in the barrel and doesn’t taste too shabby either. A limited-release offering, this fruity, spiced and all-around luxe rum was created in 1988 to mark the turn of the century. The brand duly notes it’s best for “sipping slowly and sparingly.” Using this in a cocktail would indeed elicit a dramatic face palm.
Some drinkers go by one very simple philosophy: The stronger the better. Whether you plan to sip it, shoot it or mix it in cocktails, Plantation Rum’s O.F.T.D. release (which officially stands for “Old Fashioned Traditional Dark” but has another unofficial meaning that starts with “Oh” and ends with “Delicious”) is as great as its unofficial name implies. Developed with the help of noted industry professionals like cocktail historian David Wondrich and tiki aficionado Martin Cate, the rum comes in at a potent 69 percent ABV. While its high proof should satisfy any drinker seeking serious heat, it’s also rich—think flavors of molasses and tropical fruit—and smooth enough to drink on its own.
Anything small batch will do for the rum lover who always wants to be in the “know” when it comes to craft distilleries. Luckily, anyone can geek out over this bottling from Brooklyn, New York distillery The Noble Experiment. Named for a famous Prohibition-era NYC bootlegger, this rum is made from top-quality domestic molasses and local water (you know, the stuff that makes the pizza so good). Though it doesn’t spend any time in barrels, Owney’s has plenty of funk and vanilla flavor. Use it in any which way you please, though we recommend trying it in a classic Daiquiri.