When you think of rum, what comes to mind first? Bloodthirsty pirates? A Coca-Cola-based drink you slurped back on spring break? Or maybe you think of a refined, complex spirit deserving of slow slips and careful consideration? If the latter, then you, sir or madam, must be a true connoisseur of exquisite rum, the kind of rum for which you would expect to pay, say $50,000 per bottle, no? Too much? How about just $2,600, then?
You can get a fine bottle of rum for about $50 and a truly great bottle for a little under $100. But to dabble in the best rums on the planet — or at least the most expensive — you’re going to need to add a zero or two. Or three. Maybe overly expensive rum was the reason pirates stole things instead of paying for them? Or maybe they were just kind of jerks.
New Grove Double Cask Moscatel Finish Rum – $95
You might not think of the island of Mauritius when you think of great rum regions (though you may think of the dodo, the famously not-so-bright and very much extinct flightless bird once native to the land), but this tiny republic, situated in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, produces some world-class liquor. New Grove has been producing rum since 1838, and they offer more than a dozen spirits, including affordable spiced rums, unique liqueurs made with rum and ingredients like honey, vanilla, or coffee, and their line of pricier, rarer rums like the Double Cask Moscatel Finish Rum, which is partially aged in wine barrels.
Zafra 30-Year-Old Rum – $200
The Zafra rum distillery takes its name from the Spanish word for the process of harvesting sugar cane, the zafra. This rum is produced in Panama and then aged for three decades in bourbon barrels, taking on a deep, rich hue and notes of vanilla, fruit, and oak from the wood. It is sumptuous on its own, but the distillers from Zafra fully encourage its use in cocktails as well, including the Classic Daiquiri and the Mojito. And if $200 is more than you want to spend on a 30-year-old rum, how about $52 on Zafra’s other rum, which is only aged for 21 years?
Black Tot British Royal Naval Rum – $850
The name of this deep, dark, rum comes from a dark day indeed: on July 31, 1970, the British Royal Navy officially ended the daily rum ration issued to its sailors. The date came to be called Black Tot Day. This spirit was produced in homage to the rum the sailors used to get to help brace them for the hard work called for by life at sea, though the seaman’s wages probably wouldn’t have covered more than a dram or two. Bold notes of dark berries, dark chocolate, oak, and coffee pervade the aroma and palate of this pricey but superb spirit.
Trois Rivières Millésime 1980 en Carafe Baccarat – $2,620
This rum was distilled in Martinique in 1980 and has been aged for almost four decades since, making perfect use of the island’s terroir, including rich volcanic soil and plenty of sun and rain. The liquor releases a powerful bouquet of ripe fruit, caramel, and coffee, with a flavor adding in pepper and a faint anise taste in the long, gentle finish. Bottles are priced in pounds (one sells for £2,000) so the price in U.S. dollars will fluctuate with the exchange rate. If you don’t want to spend about $2,620 but you still want a great rum from Martinique, try a bottle of Trois Rivières Rhum Ambré (Gold Rum), which has many of the same notes but costs just $45.
Goslings Auld Trophy Rum – $10,000
It might be hard to find a bottle of this limited-edition rum today, and you’ll likely pay more than the $10,000 asking price, too. But as it was made from the last of this legacy distillery’s oldest rum barrels, you’ll be buying a true taste of history. Auld Trophy Rum was produced in 2017 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the America’s Cup sailing race given the event’s taking place in the waters around Bermuda, home of the distillery. If 10 grand (or more) is a few dollars too many, try their more affordable Black Rum, or a bottle of Goslings Ginger Beer.