Rum is synonymous with the Caribbean, but the islands aren’t the only producers in the game. Distillers around the world are creating sugar-based spirits with fantastic results. With unique water sources, weather, and spices, there are plenty of new flavors waiting to be discovered. You might not even know these countries produced rum let alone heard of these brands, but all of them are available in the U.S. Here’s some of the best rum you’ve never heard of:
Old Port Original Deluxe Rum (India)
The East Indies is associated with sugar and spice and everything nice, and Old Port rum fits the bill perfectly. It’s made in Bangalore with 100% Indian sugar cane and water from the Himalayan Mountains. It doesn’t get much better than that. The blend changed around 2010 to appeal to whiskey drinkers, but it still rocks that signature Indian spice.
Ron Cartavio XO Rum (Peru)
With one of the most beautiful bottles in the rum game, Cartavio XO comes with high expectations. It delivers in spades though. XO is aged in three different types of casks, including Slovenian oak, which is new to me, and the age ranges from 10-30 years. That also happens to be how long I’d be willing to listen to Peruvian pan flute bands to get my hands on one of these bottles.
Penny Blue XO Rum (Mauritius)
It turns out that a volcanic East African island in the Indian Ocean is a great place to make rum. The Mendine Distillery is right in the middle of their sugar estate, giving it the much-desired “single estate” tag. While there’s an overall consistent style, every-changing cask combinations and ages are used with every new batch, making each release a new adventure as well.
Deadhead Rum (Mexico)
Deadhead is more about that brand than it is the distillery, but oh what a brand it is. They tell the tale of the Shuar people, supposedly the only unconquered tribe in the Amazon, which gives them an excuse to have the show-stopping shrunken head bottle. The rum within can stand on its own shrunken feet after being double distilled in pot stills and aged 6 years in French and American Oak barrels.
Tanduay Asian Rum (Philippines)
The distillery currently operating as Tanduay dates back to the 1850s, so this isn’t their first Rodeo Masbateño. Only two of their 17 brands are available in the US, but they’re both interesting additions to any bar. And with a 200,000 barrel aging facility, the largest in the Philippines, who knows what could be coming next.
Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star 8 Year Old (Haiti)
Barbancourt’s website is a .net, so you know they’re hyper-focused just on making rum. In this instance they’ll even tell you straight away that it’s good enough for 5 stars. It’s distilled twice in copper pot stills then aged for 8 years in white oak barrels. And if you’re into celebrity endorsements, Wyclef Jean is a huge fan of this Haitian rum.
Stroh 160 (Austria)
Remember that time you thought you were tough because you took a shot of Bacardi 151? At 80% ABV, the Austrians were laughing at you. Stroh 160 has one job and one job only. Infuse your blood with alcohol. It tastes surprisingly decent for rum with that stated purpose though. Just as a warning, you likely won’t be able to taste anything else for the rest of the night.
Tiburon Rum (Belize)
Tiburon is Spanish for shark, which explains why a shark tooth dangles perilously from the bottle’s neck. It’s protecting the young rum within, though the Belizean weather in which it ages makes it taste a bit older than that. It’s made from a blend of barrels that are then re-barreled in used bourbon casks, giving it an extra vanilla kick for you whiskey lovers.
Dictador XO Insolent Rum (Colombia)
Colombia fuels their cars with molasses, so Dictador makes their rum from sugar cane honey instead. They use the solera system, which combines young and old rum while aging, but what’s truly unique is that toward the end they dump the Insolent barrels, re-toast the wood, and then refill them with the previously dumped rum. The final product is one of the finest rums you’ll ever drink.
Baron Samedi Spiced Rum (Caribbean)
That’s right, the man who survived three shots from the golden gun in GoldenEye for N64 now has his own rum brand. Campari America is using the Haitian Vodou loa to sling their newest rum. It’s primarily column distilled with a hit of Jamaican pot stilled rum. One of the spices is vetiver, a Haitian grass that really ties the room branding together. Baron Samedi is just now rolling out, so keep that golden gun cocked.
StilL630 (St. Louis, United States)
STL isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you hear rum, but it could be. StilL630’s upcoming Expedition Rum is aged in new charred oak barrels then finished in barrels used to age their rye whiskey. The spice from the rye added to the richness of the rum makes it fairly unique. You’ll have to head to St. Louis for their 630 Day Event though (June 30th), which is why it’s relegated to Bonus Booze.