10 Best American Rums

According to Caribbean Journal’s Rum Journal, I have a sample of one of the best rums in the country:

  • Prichard’s Fine Aged Rum (Kelso, TN) – Tennessee is known for another fine spirit, but it’s quickly developing into a home for rum. One of the best is Prichard’s, which makes a range of rums, including a range of flavoured rums. But the Fine Aged Rum is the best of the bunch.

The only other mainland rums I’ve had are:

  • Sweet Crude (Broussard, LA) – Hailing from my homeland, this rum was introduced last year in south Louisiana.  I’ll be posting a tasting of this one at some point, but it’s not worth looking for yet.  I still hold out hope for this craft distillery to produce something noteworthy… even rooting for them!
  • Copper Run Gold Rum (Walnut Shade, MO) – This is a decent rum, but overpriced.

So, it looks like I need to branch out a bit.  There are some interesting mentions in the article and I plan to actively pursue bottles of these:

  • Siesta Key Spiced Rum (Sarasota, FL) – Rum Journal named Siesta Key Rum our spiced rum of the year in 2012, meaning it wasn’t just the best American spiced rum — it was the best spiced rum period. And so it remains. (Siesta Key’s other varieties, including spiced and gold, are also excellent).
  • Dancing Pines Cask Rum (Loveland, CO) – Dancing Pines makes three rums, including a light and a spiced variety, but the cask rum is our favourite. It’s made from cane molasses and distilled in charred oak barrels. It’s got strong notes of caramel, toffee and malt.
  • Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum (Maui, HI) – Made by Sammy Hagar, the legendary frontman of Van Halen, Sammy’s Beach Bar rum is actually a rhum agricole, meaning it’s distilled from sugar cane juice in the style of rums from Martinique. It’s fresh, it’s Hawaiian and it’s delicious.

The 2013 Spirit Journal World’s Top 120 Spirits

Spirit JournalF. Paul Pacult has published his Top 120 Spirits for 2013 and here’s how I fared with the list:

7. Parker’s Heritage Collection Master Distiller’s Blend of Mash bills Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA) 63.5% abv, $80.

I know of 4 batch releases of this sixth release from the Parker’s Heritage Collection, but this doesn’t match any of them.  Perhaps this was a pre-release batch that he reviewed, after all he is a special guy in the world of spirits.  My bottle is the most current release at a whopping 69.7% ABV and considered by many to be the best batch of the four.

32. Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (USA-2012) 66.2% abv, $70.

I have the 2011 edition of this limited annual release from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, but I’ve yet to open it.

56. Merlet Crème de Cassis de la Saintonge Boisée Liqueur (France) 20% abv, $25.

I have a bottle of this that a friend of mine picked up for me in Paris last year.  It’s quite good!

60. William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (USA) 61.7% abv, $70.

This is another one in my cabinet from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and I’m looking forward to opening it.  It’s a wheated bourbon and I don’t have any experience with this type, so I need to open it soon.

67. El Tesoro de Don Felipe Añejo 100% Agave Tequila (Mexico) 40% abv, $59.

This is my favorite tequila and I’ve still got another bottle of it left from a clearance deal I happened upon over a year ago.  I also have the blanco and reposado from El Tesoro and they’re quite good as well.

85. Laphroaig Cask Strength 10 Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Scotland) 55.3% abv, $60.

I’ve had a sample of this from a friend and it’s a bold Islay whisky.  I prefer Ardbeg Ten, but this one suits the preferences of many.  I spent too much time evaluating it at cask strength and my mouth was becoming numb by the time I had added enough water to bring it down to a realistic level.  I plan on giving this one another try.

86. Dos Maderas 5 + 3 Years Old Superior Reserve Rum (Guyana/Barbados) 40% abv, $38.

I finished my bottle of this one last year and it was pretty good, if not bit too sweet.  I like this much better than Dos Maderas PX (5+5), which is finished in Pedro Ximenes Oloroso Sherry casks, as that one is overly sweet for my taste.

87. Herradura Blanco 100% Agave Tequila (Mexico) 40% abv, $55.

Last year, I bought a sample pack of Herradura Blanco, Reposado and Anejo.  I liked the Anejo the best.

92. Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera (Venezuela) 40% abv, $39.

My brother introduced me to this Jamaican rum.  While it was good, I consider Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old Jamaican Rum to be better.

97. Rhum Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale 8 Year Old Rum (Haiti) 43% abv, $23.

I’m on my second bottle of this rhum agricole (i.e. cane juice rum) and it was a slow start for me with this one.  At first, I was totally unimpressed and considered it a bit over-aged, but as time wore on I came to appreciate it more and more.   It’s got a “reedy” flavor to it that takes a bit of getting used to.  Now, I don’t think I would be without it and plan to try other rums of this style.

99. WhiskeyPig Straight Rye Whiskey Aged 10 Years (Canada) 50% abv; $70.

This one is 100% rye (most rye whiskeys are around 90-95%) and is bottled in Vermont.  I found a bottle in Louisiana about a year ago, but now it’s readily available here in Texas.  I’ve not opened my bottle yet, but my friends tell me that I’m in for a real treat when I do.

114. Balcones 1 Texas Single Malt Whisky Special Release (USA) 52.7% abv, $68.

This local distillery in Waco, TX has won many awards with their Texas Single Malt.  Personally, I find it to be the best of the young or no age statement (NAS) malt whiskys that I’ve tasted.  It’s bursting with flavor and has a nice dry finish.

Rhum Barbancourt Five Star Réserve Spéciale

Rhum Barbancourt Five Star

Rhum Agricole, 8 years,
43% ABV, $22


I’m finishing off my bottle of this one and decided to give it a closer look before its all gone. My Barbancourt experience started off rough and I didn’t care for this one at first, but as time has passed I’ve come to appreciate it more and more. My intent is to determine whether I continue the experience or move on to another Rhum Agricole offering (e.g. Montecristo 12 Year).

The nose is earthy and mildly sweet with notes of sugar cane (I was raised in south Louisiana and know this smell), toffee, honey, prunes and roasted walnut. If you nose it lightly, the aroma takes on a definite woody quality with the sweetness deriving more from caramel. You have to breathe it in deeply to get the details. It’s a light, delicate aroma that I’ve not fully appreciated until now.

The taste is nutty, tart, sweet and peppery and the finish is leathery while the peppery heat dissipates slowly. Up front I taste walnut, persimmon (which I’ve not had in a long time), ginger, black pepper, vanilla and bitter honey. I’ve heard that the flavor has a reedy quality and I think that this may be coming through as nuts in combination with the persimmon and bitter honey. It’s an interesting flavor that you don’t get from molasses based rum. The more I sip on this, the more I detect a brief appearance of tart apple mid-palate. There’s also a mild anise taste on the back of the tongue that lingers long after the pepper fades. This is definitely not a sweet rum and it also avoids the dryness of some Barbadian offerings. It’s not bold, but it offers some nice complexity that keeps me interested. It’s also different enough from other rum styles to provide some useful variety.

It’s clear that I’ve sold this rum short in the past and this detailed tasting has guaranteed a spot in my collection for it. It’s also solidified my decision to not purchase Barbancourt’s 3-Star (4 Year) offering, which is supposed to offer more reedy taste and less wood. I may even opt to go in the other direction and try their reasonably priced 15 Year rum. My thanks go to my mentor, Cap’n Jimbo at The Rum Project, for encouraging me to give this rum another shot. I’m glad I did.