The Top 10 Rums of 2021

The Top 10 Rums of 2021

Jamaica figures heavily in our look back at the previous year in rum, with its fingerprints appearing in whole or in part on four of our top 10 expressions released in 2021. Of course, there’s ample representation from other islands in the Caribbean – as well as some further-afield locations that stretch from South America to the South Pacific. Ready to delve into 2022 with some excellent rum at the ready? Here’s a look at our favorite expressions of the year.

For more great options, see also our top 10 rums of 2020 and 2019. You can also search multiple stores at wine-searcher to find the best prices on all these products and more.

1. Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum (Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad) – Last year the relaunch of the Black Tot brand earned the #3 spot in our top rums of the year. The upscale offering – Black Tot 50th Anniversary edition – takes #1. A blend of all manner of rums from four different countries, pot and column still spirits living in harmony, results in a finished product that’s dripping with complexity that runs from ripe berries to toasted coconut to just the right amount of hogo. It’s just like the new Black Tot, just more in every dimension. Limited to 5000 bottles, it’s hard to find now – but worth the effort. 109 proof. $175 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

2. Foursquare Mark XIII 2008 Single Blended Rum (Barbados) – This rum from Foursquare in Barbados was actually released in 2020 but wasn’t widely available until early last year. It’s a vintage-dated rum from the Exceptional Cask Selection series, which has been an annual affair for the last few years now showing off some of the distillery’s very best pot- and column-still rums. The 2008 was a particular knockout, with one of the most fragrant and interesting aromas we’ve ever whiffed and a palate similarly bursting with complex flavors like gingerbread, salted caramel, and grilled pineapple, even a bit of minty bubblegum and root beer. Standout, cask strength bottlings like this one make it easy to see why Foursquare has earned its status as the “Pappy of Rum.” 120 proof. $100 -DB [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

3. Hampden “Great House” Rum Distillery Edition 2020 (Jamaica) – Never mind the vintage date; this didn’t hit the U.S. until well into 2021. Hampden Estate Distillery is one of the most noteworthy producers of rum on the island of Jamaica – and there’s little chance you’ve heard of them until now, because the distillery sold all its product to others for blending purposes, MGP style, until 2018. Now that its own label is up and running, rum fans can get the full and unadulterated experience of Hampden, with this Great House offering a monster of a rum – blended from two of its distillates – that melds pineapple, caramel, cedar, and plenty of hogo into an enveloping, enduring experience. 118 proof. $110 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

4. Plantation Rum Fiji Vintage 2005 Limited Edition (Fiji) – Plantation (wasn’t there supposed to be a name change at some point?) annually releases limited run editions, including this high-octane variation on its Fiji-distilled expression. Aged 15 years (14 in bourbon barrels, 1 in a Cognac cask), it’s a balanced but intense affair full of tropical fruit and spice along with a surprisingly earthy blend of black tea, licorice, and ginger. It also provides one of the more memorable, lingering finishes of 2021. 100.4 proof. $80 -RT

5. Tanduay Double Rum (Philippines) – This unassuming rum blends up a 5 year old rum with a 16 year old to produce a “distinctly Filipino” rum that is exuberant with tropical fruits, baking spices, and just a little bit of funk. It’s great on its own but given its price tag it arguably works best as a high-end mixer, imbuing any cocktail with an outright ton of flavor (and a considerable sweetness, so tread carefully). 80 proof. $50 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

6. Plantation Rum Single Cask Collection – Jamaica 1996 x NY Distilling Co Rye Cask (Jamaica) – The name may not roll off the tongue, but this exotic collaboration between Plantation and the New York Distilling Company is so complex it merits the extra verbiage. Take a 21.5 year old Jamaican rum, send it to France for two years of Cognac barrel aging, and then finish a second time in Ragtime Rye casks. What do you get? A strange but exciting rum with a smoky-savory quality, fading slowly into sweeter notes that grow stronger by the minute. It’s a rum that needs time in glass and plenty of it, but settle in for the ride and your patience will be fully rewarded. 98.2 proof. $120 -CN

7. The ImpEx Collection Long Pond 2005 15 Years Old Cask #21VRW (Oak Barrel) (Jamaica) – This year ImpEx got into independent bottling game, including both whiskey and rum. All three of the rums in the first round of releases are excellent, but the top of the line is this 15 year old, produced at Jamaica’s famed Long Pond Distillery. Aromatic and heavy with spices, it’s a rich and lovely rum with a lingering, winey finish. Designed for pensive sipping and reflection. 104.4 proof. $120 -CN

8. Nashville Barrel Company Aged Rum (Venezuela) – It may be a bit surprising to find on our list a sourced rum from an independent whiskey bottler in Tennessee, but it was honestly one of our favorites this year. Nashville Barrel Company Aged Rum is sourced from Venezuela as a four-year-old product and then re-barreled into freshly dumped whiskey barrels from Kentucky and Tennessee where it ages another two years in the Nashville climate. These are single barrels, so your mileage on future bottlings may vary, but our sample in 2021 was chock full of big, well-balanced flavor, from pineapple upside down cake and grilled peaches to dark molasses and flambéed bananas. It’s proof that a little secondary aging goes a long way, and for a cask strength rum of this quality, it’s well-priced at 70 bucks. 109 proof. $70 -DB

9. Ten To One Single Cask Reserve Rum 17 Years Old (Trinidad) – Just four casks were made of this top-shelf sipper from Trinidad – but remarkably you can still find it for sale if you poke around a bit. A tough start gives way in short order to a fruit-dominant palate, with notes of tobacco and gingerbread balancing out the immersive tropical and citrus flavors. Big stuff, but fun stuff. 86 proof. $162 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY] [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

10. SelvaRey Rum Owner’s Reserve (2021) (Panama) – The owner in question is Bruno Mars, who’s been making a name for himself as a celebrity rum slinger, with at least four varieties of his SelvaRey brand on offer. The top of the line is this luxe offering a blend of 15 and 25 year old rums, all from Panama, which takes the sweet house style and ups the ante with a complex collection of sherry-driven wine notes. The relatively muted abv is a bit of a surprise, but the finished product is proof that exciting rum needn’t come with an outsized punch of alcohol. 80 proof. $150 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

Additional reporting by Drew Beard and Rob Theakston.

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