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mod (Andy) note: "Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from November 2010. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

I've been meaning to do this for some time now and, with the holiday party/gift giving season right around the corner, I figured now was as good a time as any. Those of you who know me know that I love my rum. Not only does it have a pleasant effect on a body after three or four, rum more than any other liquor has had the ability to trigger memories for me and take me back to some of the best times in my life.

Any type of guide to food or booze is going to be highly subjective based on the individual tastes of the reviewer. This guide, of course, is no different. However, when you consider the vast Nordic lakes of rum I've consumed over the past two and a half decades, you can rest assured that I won't steer you wrong and that you'll be pleased with my recommendations. Whether for yourself, or if you're looking for the perfect gift for a friend, consider my Top 10 list.

I've broken this down into a few sections. The first section is my Top 10 favorite rums. These are listed by distillery and not necessarily by label, so some brands may have more than one rum on the Top 10 list. These are all dark or amber rums meant to be consumed neat or on the rocks. I don't recommend mixing these rums with anything, but when an exceptional cocktail recipe calls for one of them I'll point that out.

Next come the spiced rums, then the flavored rums, then the overproof rums. And then there's the lagniappe. Lagniappe is a term we use down in New Orleans and it means "a little something extra". In this case, it's my recipe for Hot Buttered Rum. I've tried dozens of different recipes for Hot Buttered Rum over the years, and this one is the best by far. I can't think of a better winter cocktail, and your holiday parties are guaranteed to be a hit if you mix up a batch of this stuff.

I've even converted this guide to PDF format for those who'd like to print it out and take it to the liquor store with them. I do what I can for you guys. Just let me know if you want a copy of the PDF.

Without further ado, here is the distillation of my life's work:



Eddie's Top 10

  1. Gosling's - Goslings Black Seal Rum is far and away my favorite rum on the market. It hails from Bermuda, and the Gosling family has been working their magic there for over 200 years now. Black Seal is a dark, sweet rum with a bouquet like no other. I prefer mine on the rocks, though it's an easy rum to drink neat. The Dark 'N Stormy is a particularly good cocktail mixed with Black Seal rum and ginger beer. Note: ginger ale is not ginger beer, so make sure to use ginger beer if you're mixing a Dark 'N Stormy. I'm unable to get Gosling's in France, which is a minor tragedy for me, and I always load up a few gallons whenever I travel to the States.

    Gosling's also offers a truly remarkable premium rum, and I would call it the best premium rum without hesitation. It was called Gosling's Family Reserve when it was first introduced, but now it goes by the name Old Rum. It's going to set you back $50-60 for a bottle, but it is so worth it. I won't even pour Old Rum over ice - it's that good. This is a rum I'd put up against any cognac and, as such, it is meant to be consumed neat. It is sweet and subtle, much lighter in color than Black Seal, and comes numbered, hand labeled, and packaged in its own wooden box, making it perfect for gift giving. If you're looking for a gift that really sets you apart from colleagues who all give the boss Johnny Walker Blue for the holidays, this is your go-to rum.
  2. Mount Gay - Mount Gay Eclipse rum is a staple in the Braverman household. Mount Gay comes from Barbados and could be the oldest rum label in the world. The company has been making their famous Eclipse rum since 1703. It is a light amber rum, I prefer it on the rocks, and you can really taste the sugar cane in it. It's bracing on the palate at first sip, without being obnoxious. I've actually been to the distillery in Barbados, and it's an impressive operation. Mount Gay is synonymous with yacht racing, so when I showed up wearing a trademark red Mount Gay racing hat they treated me like a king and left me to serve myself at their well-stocked bar. I was in rummy Heaven. If you must mix Mount Gay with something (and I really wish you wouldn't), mix it with equal parts orange juice to make a Bilgewater.

    Mount Gay makes several other rums, most notably their Extra Old. Extra Old gets rave reviews but it's not one of my favorites. Guess I just love the original too much. Give it a try if you like, it's not bad, but on Barbados they call it Sugar Cane Brandy and it's probably better enjoyed as a brandy than a rum.
  3. Zaya - Zaya is a really special rum. Known among connoisseurs as a "synthetic" rum, it is perhaps the smoothest most mellow rum on the list. It's not synthetic in the sense that anything about it is artificial, synthetic simply means that it is blended (or synthesized) from a number of other top notch rums, much like scotch. Zaya is one of the more expensive rums on the list, around $60 a bottle the last time I bought it. Worth every penny. Truly. Very, very good rum. Note: this is another one to savor neat. Save the ice for something that needs mellowing.
  4. Cruzan - Cruzan is made in the Virgin Islands and is a great everyday rum. It has a pleasant, distinctive flavor, and you can't help but feel like you're down island when you're sipping a Cruzan on the rocks. It's medium-bodied and mellow with a bit of a kick.

    Cruzan also makes another rum I like even better than the original and that is their Cruzan Blackstrap Rum. This is distilled from a heavy sugar cane molasses, has a heavier flavor, and most closely resembles Gosling's Black Seal rum in the glass. It is definitely dark, but doesn't fall into the bitter category like Myers, for example. Definitely give it a try.
  5. Clement - Okay, I'm not at all enamored with the junk that comes out of the French West Indies. The rhums I've had from Guadaloupe and Martinique have been almost universally bad. Clement is the rare exception, and boy is it ever. It's definitely for those who like a sweeter rum, but it's right up there with Zaya for flavor and drinkability. I would almost classify Clement as a dessert rum. It is definitely an excellent choice for an after-dinner cocktail.
  6. Pyrat - Pyrat is another blend and it is a very good one. I have to admit, I dismissed Pyrat originally as a cheap marketing ploy to capitalize on the surge in premium liquors. Whatever their motivation, the crew at Pyrat actually produced a damn good rum. Their XO Reserve is dark and complex and their Pistol distillation will appeal to those who like a lighter amber rum. Silly pirate marketing aside, this is one you should try.
  7. Bundaberg - Bundy is a very hard-to-find rum. Hailing from Australia, only about 3% of their yearly production makes it out to the Up Above. If you find it, buy it. Great molasses flavor, nice finish, and a good bit of bite to it.
  8. Flor de Cana - Flor de Cana is a Nicaraguan distillation. They offer several vintages, and each gets better with age, so to speak. They're all good, and some are excellent. I usually stick with the Black Label 5-year old rum, but they range from aged 4 years to aged 18 years.
  9. Barbancourt - Barbancourt is a Haitian rum and, like Flor de Cana, offers several different ages of rum. Oddly, the quality of the vintages skips around a bit. For example, their 4-year old rum is better than their 8-year old rum, but then the 12-year old is best of all. I like Barbancourt on the rocks, but I prefer a squeeze of lime in it.
  10. Pusser's - I couldn't make a Top Ten list without including the staple of the Royal Navy for hundreds of years. Known as "Nelson's Blood" (after Lord Admiral Nelson, the British naval hero), Pusser's rum was served every day aboard British Royal Navy ships until 1979. Known for their distinctive decorative decanters, Pusser's is frankly not my favorite, but I'll drink it out of a sense of tradition at yacht races and what have you. While I'd never mix it 50/50 with water like the Royal Navy did, it is good over ice.


Spiced Rums (in order of preference)


Since spiced rums are used mostly for mixing, almost any spiced rum is as good as another, so you might as well buy the cheaper brands. The one standout in the group is Sailor Jerry, and it's the only one I'll drink on the rocks without mixing. I like the ocassional rum and coke, and all these rums are good for that:

  1. Sailor Jerry
  2. Captain Morgan
  3. Admiral Nelson - cheaper than the Captain, and outranks him to boot!
  4. Castillo Spiced
  5. Cruzan 9 - keep an eye on this one. I've never had it because it's brand new, but they're making a serious run at the spiced rum title and everything else they make is excellent.


Flavored Rums


I've never had much use for flavored rums. However, if you hollow out a pineapple, chop up the fruit, fill the husk with coconut rum, pour the fruit back in and let it marinate in the fridge overnight, you've got a breakfast of champions I'm here to tell you. Plus chicks dig it. Here's my top three:

  1. Malibu - the one that started it all
  2. Parrot Bay -- the Captain's foray into the coconut rum market
  3. Bacardi Limon - you would think this would be ideal for mixing a Cuba Libre, but sadly it's not.


Overproof Rums


The high-octane rums are known as overproof rums. They're also known as recipe rums because they're used for cooking almost as often as they're used in cocktails. They're always mixed because they taste like jet fuel (with one exception, below). If you're looking for some extra fireworks with your Bananas Foster or Cafe Brulot, these are the rums to use:

  1. Bacardi 151
  2. Wray & Nephew Over Proof
  3. Stroh - You really have to watch out for this stuff. It's made in Austria, is 160 proof, and is actually drinkable on its own. It will knock you on your ass, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. If you mix it with a frozen can of Bacardi Pina Colada Mix you will create a pink concoction that tastes like strawberry shortcake and will ruin anyone who drinks it. You've been warned.


Eddie's Killer Hot Buttered Rum


Perfect for those cold winter nights. Just be careful, these things sneak up on you. This makes enough for about a dozen cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • Stick of soft unsalted butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Mix everything together in a bowl until well-blended and creamy. I usually like to let it set in the fridge for a couple hours to firm up. When you're ready for a drink, put two heaping tablespoons of the mix in a coffee mug. Fill halfway with dark rum (use something cheap like Castillo, as the batter will overpower the flavor of the rum). Fill to the brim with BOILING water (the rum in the mug will cool it instantly to a drinkable temperature) and mix.

Enjoy!

5

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Comments (60)

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    +1 for everything you said about Stroh...still get a headache just seeing the picture

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • dmcd's picture

    +1 for Sailor Jerry... amazing stuff. Collect the girls too!

    "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish"

  • George87's picture

    Thanks for the list Eddie, and true story about Stroh... not so good times

  • MissingNo.'s picture

    +5 for sailor jerry, goslings

    -5 for failing to include Calico Jack, he who raided and ruined all ye fair navy men

    Still not sure if I want to spend the next 30+ years grinding away in corporate finance and the WSO dream chase or look to have enough passive income to live simply and work minimally.

  • proforma's picture

    Gosling's and Mount Gay are definitely the top 2, although I would add Appleton Estate to the top 2, especially the 12 year.

  • mr_bigglesworth's picture

    1&2 (Gosling's and Mt. Gay) sponsor a great deal of sailboat racing, you can spot a sailor wearing a red Mt. Gay regatta hat just about anywhere. Their sponsorship has done some good things for the sport. There's also a Gosling's 151 proof, haven't tried it, but I'm sure it would make a wicked strong dark n stormy.

  • Gekko21's picture

    Great list Eddie.

    Interesting info for those interested, Malibu is a Coconut flavored liqueur (only 20% alcohol) from Canada.....yes the tropical paradise that is CANADA.

    "Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

  • In reply to proforma
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    proforma:
    Gosling's and Mount Gay are definitely the top 2, although I would add Appleton Estate to the top 2, especially the 12 year.

    I can only drink Appleton in Jamaica. Everywhere else it tastes like ass to me. It's one of the few rums I truly don't care for. Unless I'm climbing Dunn's River Falls, that is.

    There's the subjective nature of the list I mentioned...

  • Coxford's picture

    Great list, I now consider myself properly educated. Im heading to the shop to go stock up right now.

  • shorttheworld's picture

    i also have to add that bacardi anejo is a very good rum and VERY spicy but VERY hard to find as well...

  • CaptK's picture

    Awesome list Eddie, and extra points for calling out the Dark 'N Story, my favorite cocktail of all time (made properly with ginger beer). Also a +1 for Malibu when you're relaxing someplace warm - flip flops are required to truly appreciate a Malibu cocktail. I like a mix of 3/4 Malibu, a splash of sprite, and a pineapple wedge for sipping in the sun.

    I am also firmly in the Sailor Jerry camp - bought it once senior year of college to drink with a lady friend, and have been unable to drink Captain Morgan since. I'm trashing a fellow Captain here, but Sailor Jerry is infinitely better than Capt M because it's not overly sweet, isn't thick and sticky, and is slightly higher proof to boot. If any of you monkeys out there are still drinking Captain Morgan, spend the extra $4 or so per bottle and upgrade yourself to some Sailor Jerry - you'll never go back.

    - Capt K -
    "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham

  • Max Tucker's picture

    Great list, I'm going to try out the buttered rum tonight

  • Batrick Pateman's picture

    gotta agree with almost everything you said. although id put Barbancourt up a few places....but it might be because i got one that was more consistent in quality.

    You forgot something major.....the Havana Club Vintages.....

    Mount Gay takes the cake for me. And it IS the oldest Rum distillery in the world

  • rafiki's picture

    I like the gift recommendation for something other than Johnny Walker Blue,

  • econ's picture

    Rum and coke, Dark and Stormy, and Hot Buttered Rum. Any other rum-cocktails you think are drinkable Eddie?

  • whateverittakes's picture

    I loves me some Sailor Jerry's.

    Not sure if mojitos are your speed, Eddie, but do you have a favorite mojito rum? I've never liked the Bacardi Limon or Superior shit.

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Honestly, I wouldn't use a flavored rum to mix a mojito, and I find that plain old white Bacardi is best for those. The key to a good mojito is to use fresh mint (not mint syrup or some other blasphemy) and to muddle the shit out of the mint before mixing the drink. Also, raw sugar is best (the rocky kind, not the really fine kind you cook with or whatever).

    Anyone interested in trying an unusual but very good mojito in NYC should head to Flute for their signature champagne mojito. Sounds nasty, tastes great. And if you hit the Flute in Gramercy, say hey to Maggie for me. Don't worry, you'll know which one she is.

  • dagro's picture

    i'm not in banking yet, and do i sense some resentment? i'm in israel yeatch. and i'm not aiming for banking.

    =========================================
    "... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

  • In reply to dagro
    happypantsmcgee's picture

    dagro:
    i'm not in banking yet, and do i sense some resentment? i'm in israel yeatch. and i'm not aiming for banking.

    It was a joke...relax

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • In reply to happypantsmcgee
    dagro's picture

    happypantsmcgee:
    dagro:
    i'm not in banking yet, and do i sense some resentment? i'm in israel yeatch. and i'm not aiming for banking.

    It was a joke...relax


    i'm usually a very relaxed person - to the point it upsets my girl.
    it's just that when you're part of an ethnic group that's chronically defamed, you get touchy.
    if it was in good humor, i apologize for the attitude.

    =========================================
    "... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

  • Logger54's picture

    Sailor Jerry +1 just picked it up

    Also for those of you who have large American sized mugs like I do 1/3 full of rum takes the edge off the buttered rum. Also vanilla extract adds a nice little flavor, but excellent recipe 1/2 is delicious flavor just monitor the females consumption or you'll be sh*t outta luck at the end of the night

  • Frieds's picture

    Dagro,

    A word of advice, outside Israel, be prepared to get a few Jewish jokes thrown your way. Being Jewish as well, I've come to take most humor in stride. I'm the resident Rabbi/Authority on all things Kosher within my group of coworkers, so it helps to learn how to resolve the sarcasm/jokes with the real asshole things to say. My Hebrew's a bit rusty (I used to be fluent, but 7+ Years of disuse has thrown it to the wayside) but what was the statement in question. I want to know, I'm sure I'll get a laugh out of it.

  • econ's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    Fill halfway with dark rum (use something cheap like Castillo, as the batter will overpower the flavor of the rum).

    Potentially stupid question, but is Castillo Gold what you're talking about? I couldn't find a Castillo Dark in the liquor store, so I bought Castillo Gold, and am wondering if they just call they're dark rum gold?

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Yes, Castillo Gold and any other rum that is not white (clear) is considered a dark.

    And there are no stupid questions, only stupid people.

    Hope you enjoy the recipe.

  • In reply to Frieds
    happypantsmcgee's picture

    Frieds:
    Dagro,

    A word of advice, outside Israel, be prepared to get a few Jewish jokes thrown your way. Being Jewish as well, I've come to take most humor in stride. I'm the resident Rabbi/Authority on all things Kosher within my group of coworkers, so it helps to learn how to resolve the sarcasm/jokes with the real asshole things to say. My Hebrew's a bit rusty (I used to be fluent, but 7+ Years of disuse has thrown it to the wayside) but what was the statement in question. I want to know, I'm sure I'll get a laugh out of it.

    First off, I apologize if I offended anyone. That being said, my best friend is Jewish and when he bought a boat we named it the Yom Skipper so jewish humor is big in my group of friends.

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    econ's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    Yes, Castillo Gold and any other rum that is not white (clear) is considered a dark.

    And there are no stupid questions, only stupid people.

    Haha, yeah, maybe I am stupid (and drunk). Either way, this thread is awesome, and I truly appreciate all of the recommendations. Loved Gosling's Black Seal and Mount Gay Eclipse. Just bought some Sailor Jerry's, and am definitely looking forward to making the hot buttered rum as soon as the butter softens.

  • CaptK's picture

    Eddie - just wanted to drop a line and give some feedback on your hot buttered rum recipe. I had absolutely no plans tonight after work, and my roommate is staying at his girlfriend's so I have the place to myself. It's 20 and snowing here, so I pulled out my guitar for a bit of practice. I typically pair my acoustic with some whiskey on the rocks but given the weather, I mixed up a half batch of your hot buttered rum. Mixed with Goslings since it was all I had lying around, and man did it hit the spot. Two mugs and a few tunes later, and I'm feeling warm from the inside out and have got me a new quiet weekday night pastime. Cheers sir - this is my new favorite winter cocktail.

    - Capt K -
    "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham

  • Nachos's picture

    How about Bundaberg Rum?

  • Nachos's picture

    *facepalm* totally missed it, my bad.

  • econ's picture

    Does anybody have a good eggnog recipe (with rum)?

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Here's a fairly complicated (but I'm sure delicious) method to make a Dark 'N Stormy:


    When I make mine, I just crown a rocks glass (or a pint glass if I don't want to make frequent trips to the bar) with ice and then add 2 parts Gosling's to 1 part ginger beer. The ginger beer is carbonated, so there's no need to stir. Just remember: ginger beer, not ginger ale. Big difference.

  • econ's picture

    Hey Eddie (or anybody else), have you tried Cruzan 9 Spiced, yet? If so, did it move up from 5 on the spiced rum rankings?

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Haven't tried it yet. It's hard to find stuff like that here in France. Looking forward to it the next time I'm stateside, though.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    Muskrateer's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    Haven't tried it yet. It's hard to find stuff like that here in France. Looking forward to it the next time I'm stateside, though.

    Just came upon this topic. I think you should really give more try to the Martinique rums. Especially the aged ones. The 2 best brands are JM and La Favorite (don't try the ones under 10 years old, or even 15). You can find both at either Caves Auge (bld Malesherbes) or Lavinia (Madeleine). They are considered the best rums by connoisseurs and sommeliers and for a reason. Very limited production and very rare though. I've travelled extrensively around the carribean and never found anything comparable.

  • In reply to Muskrateer
    Muskrateer's picture

    Muskrateer:
    Edmundo Braverman:
    Haven't tried it yet. It's hard to find stuff like that here in France. Looking forward to it the next time I'm stateside, though.

    Just came upon this topic. I think you should really give more try to the Martinique rums. Especially the aged ones. The 2 best brands are JM and La Favorite (don't try the ones under 10 years old, or even 15). You can find both at either Caves Auge (bld Malesherbes) or Lavinia (Madeleine). They are considered the best rums by connoisseurs and sommeliers and for a reason. Very limited production and very rare though. I've travelled extrensively around the carribean and never found anything comparable.

    And while at it I was fairly surprised you didn't quote Zacapa Centenario? It's from Guatemala and very popular in the US amongst rhum affictionados.

  • In reply to Muskrateer
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Muskrateer:
    Edmundo Braverman:
    Haven't tried it yet. It's hard to find stuff like that here in France. Looking forward to it the next time I'm stateside, though.

    Just came upon this topic. I think you should really give more try to the Martinique rums. Especially the aged ones. The 2 best brands are JM and La Favorite (don't try the ones under 10 years old, or even 15). You can find both at either Caves Auge (bld Malesherbes) or Lavinia (Madeleine). They are considered the best rums by connoisseurs and sommeliers and for a reason. Very limited production and very rare though. I've travelled extrensively around the carribean and never found anything comparable.

    I'll give them a try. Lavinia is practically my home away from home.

  • econ's picture

    Given that we're in hot butter rum weather, I'd like to introduce this:

  • econ's picture

    Eddie,

    In all do respect, I have a hard time understanding what they are making in that video (given all the background noise). Care to offer the recipe (or at least some commentary)?

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    I'm a little too hammered right now to go into the recipe, but I'll post it later. It's a coffee drink served at the end of very big meals. That weird looking thing hanging down from the ladle is actually an orange peel which gives it a pretty intense flavor when burnt.

  • econ's picture

    Sailor Jerry's + Reed's Premium Ginger Brew + Lime Twist = One Helluva Drink (assuming it's served stiff)

    Kraken + Coke + Lime isn't bad either

  • econ's picture

    Anybody got any solid Mojito and/or Daiquiri recipes?

  • EURCHF parity's picture

    Off that list, agree with Clement (XO is the sweet spot between sharpness and complexity for me), and Goslings (discovered in the Nelson's Blood cocktail at the Widder Bar in Zurich). Strongly disagree with Bundies, which is Australian for toilet cleaner (but they do have mighty good ads).

    Might be biased; I barely drink any molasses based rums, usually sticking with rhum agricole (or, tbh, scotch or good rye) which you stated you dislike except for Clement (I take it you are not a JM fan then).

  • In reply to happypantsmcgee
    monkeyc's picture

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