Best dark rums: Eight to try

Bottle of rum, bowl of limes and cocktail on a table
Diplomatico Dark Rum

The rum category is currently on a roll in the UK. More people than ever are choosing to drink rum in bars, as well as buying bottles to enjoy at home. In fact last year rum sales overtook whisky for the first time, with sales in the 12 months to July 2022 worth over £1bn, according to analyst NielsenIQ.

No doubt, part of rum’s appeal is its variety. Distilled in roughly 50 different countries around the world, rum is produced in different styles – including white, spiced and golden – meaning it can be enjoyed in a number of ways.

How is dark rum made?

All rum is made from sugar cane. It can either be distilled from sugar cane juice, or more frequently from molasses, which is a by-product of sugar production. As a general rule molasses-based rums will have richer flavours, while cane juice rums are fresher and fruitier.

A hand holding a piece of sugar cane

Diplomatico’s sugar cane fields in Venezuela

Water and yeast are added to the juice or molasses to cause fermentation. Then the liquid is distilled, in either a pot still or a column still. Typically rums that are destined to be aged are produced in pot stills, which produce a more robust spirit, while unaged rums are made in column stills. But producers frequently blend spirits from both types of stills to create a particular flavour profile.

After distillation the rum can be drawn straight off the still to be bottled, or briefly rested in oak casks, then filtered, producing unaged – light or white – rum. Dark rums are made by keeping the spirit in oak casks for a number of years. The type of cask influences the final flavour: used bourbon and whisky casks are used to produce rich and complex flavours.

Typically the final dark rum is created by blending different barrels together – these can be various ages, finishes, production methods and even from different countries. This is the art of the Master Blenders, who have trained and tasted extensively to hone their skills.

Bottle of rum and a cocktail

How to drink dark rum

Because dark rums have a complex flavour profile you can just enjoy them neat, over ice, sipping and savouring the layers of flavours. But there are also some classic cocktails that call for dark rum. Try a Dark N Stormy: combine 50ml dark rum, 25ml fresh lime juice and 100ml ginger beer in a highball glass filled with ice. Add two dashes of Angostura Bitters and garnish with a lime wedge.

Dark rum can also be used instead of whisky in an Old Fashioned. To make a Rum Old Fashioned put 60ml rum, 10ml sugar syrup and three dashes of Angostura Bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir well for several minutes to chill and dilute the mix. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange twist.

I also enjoy using dark rum in a Daiquiri, instead of the usual white rum – especially in the winter months – to create a more mellow, flavoursome take on this classic. Put 50ml white rum, 15ml freshly squeezed lime juice and 10ml sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Half fill with ice and shake until your hands are cold. Strain into a chilled coupe, garnished with a lime wedge on the rim.

What rum to use? Here are some suggestions – a mix of old favourites and new releases – to get you started…

Eight dark rums to try

Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks

Jamaica’s Black River is the water source for Appleton Estate’s rums, including this long-aged blend of pot and column still rums created by Master Blender Joy Spence. Caramel and vanilla nose with notes of dried orange peel, light fruit cake, ginger and dark spices. Intense palate layered with woody spice, black toffee, ripe banana, coffee, pink pepper and leather, with a lingering, complex finish. One to sip and savour. Alc 43%

Barceló Organic Rum

Based in the Dominican Republic, Ron Barceló is a certified carbon-neutral rum producer. The latest addition to its range, Barceló Organic Rum, is the first Dominican organic rum; it’s made from fresh sugar-cane juice, extracted from 150ha of…

Source :

Best dark rums: Eight to try Best dark rums: Eight to try * Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | Best dark rums: Eight to try | | Best dark rums: Eight to try | | Best dark rums: Eight to try | | Best dark rums: Eight to try |