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The 5 best Jamaican rum brands for your favorite summer cocktails

Jamaica is a rum-lover's dream

Rum cocktail
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While rum is made everywhere, from Louisiana to the Philippines, its heart is in the Caribbean. This is where places like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Cuba, and Jamaica have been crafting rum for centuries. And while we could spend a whole article explaining the intricacies of the various Caribbean rum hotbeds, today, we’re most interested in Jamaica.

When people talk about Jamaican rum, the first word that usually comes up is “funky”. Jamaican rums, while known for their bold, complex, rich profiles and notes of molasses, fruit, and gentle spices, they’re also known for fermented funky, lightly barnyard aromas and flavors.

The 5 best Jamaican rum brands

Rum cocktail
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Now that you know a little bit about Jamaican rum, it’s time to find some to drink. If you enjoy flavors like molasses candy, ripe pineapple, coconut, vanilla, berries, bananas, toffee, island spices, and gentle barnyard funk, you’ll love Jamaican rum.

But, if you’re new to Jamaican rum, you can’t randomly pick up the first bottle at your local liquor store you lay eyes on. You might not be happy with the results. If you go too cheap, you might end up with something that has rum sweetness but is so harsh that it tastes more like it belongs in your car’s engine than in your glass. Fear not; we’re here to help.

Instead of making you peruse the aisles with a sad, confused look on your face with hopes that a rum expert will stroll up to you and point you in the right direction, we did the work for you. Below, you’ll find information about the five best Jamaican rum brands. Keep scrolling to learn about the likes of Appleton Estate, Smith & Cross, and more.

Appleton Estate 12-Year-Old Rare Casks Rum

Appleton Estate 12
Appleton Estate

When it comes to Jamaican rum brands, there are none more well-known than Appleton Estate. While Appleton Estate’s history can be traced back to the mid-1600s, the first rums were produced in 1749. It’s well-known for different expressions, but it’s most popular for Appleton Estate Signature, 8-Year-Old Reserve, and more. If you were only going to pick one expression, we suggest its 12-Year-Old Rare Casks with its blend of column and pot stills and notes of vanilla, candied oranges, toffee, oak, and gentle spices.

Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum

Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
Smith & Cross

A favorite of drinkers and bartenders alike, English brand Smith & Cross is a traditional Jamaican rum that consists of a blend of Wedderburn and Plummer pot still distillates. Its Traditional Jamaican Navy Strength Rum is a potent and highly mixable 57% ABV. A perfect rum for mixing into cocktails like the Mojito, Cuba Libre, and classic Daiquiri, it’s known for its complex, nuanced flavor profile featuring notes of tropical fruits, vanilla, molasses, slight funk, and gentle island spices.

Myers’s Dark Rum

Myer's Dark Rum
Myer's

Founded in 1879 in Kingston, Jamaica, Myer’s is a big name in not only Jamaican rum but world rum. While it also makes white rum, the brand is most known for its wildly popular Original Dark Rum. This caramel-hued rum is known for its bold, rich flavor profile of blackstrap molasses, vanilla cream, pipe tobacco, dried fruits, chocolate, and spices. It’s a great choice for a Planters Punch or any other dark rum-centric cocktail.

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
Wray & Nephew

The story of Wray & Nephew began in 1825 when a man named John Wray opened a bar called ‘The Shakespeare Tavern’ in Kingston, Jamaica. This is where he first began to blend rums, eventually leading to the founding of Wray & Nephew. When it comes to potent, mixable rums, there are few as beloved as Wray & Nephew’s 125.5-proof Overproof Rum. Know for its complex flavor profile featuring ripe pineapple, light funk, banana, vanilla beans, oak, and light spices; it’s a perfect base for a classic Daiquiri.

Hampden Estate Rum Fire

Hampden Estate Rum Fire
Hampden Estate

Another big name in the Jamaican rum world, the spirit has been continuously produced at Hampden Estate since the mid-1700s. The brand has a handful of core releases, limited releases, and Hampden Estate Rum Fire, a rum specifically created to be used as a mixer. That’s because this white overproof rum is a fiery 63% ABV and is sure to add a funky, rich sweetness to your favorite summery cocktails.

Bottom line

Barrel
Elevate/Unsplash

If you’re getting started in the Jamaica rum world, you have a lot to choose from. The key is figuring out what you want the expression for. Are you going to sip it? Opt for a longer-aged dark rum. Mixing? How about a white overproof rum? Make sure you grab a few different types of rum so you can have a well-rounded liquor cabinet or bar cart.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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