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Your guide to the best rums for beginners

We’ve previously talked about how rum is picking up as the new “It” spirit, experiencing the boom that gin owned half a decade back. As dedicated rum bars rise, so has the collective interest towards bringing rums to the home bar as well.

As with any spirit, if you’re a novice, a little launchpad is needed to get you on your merry collector’s way. It is important to know your way around the definitions of rums, and have a handful of bottles you can turn to to lay your foundation for appreciation. Before we tackle the latter, here is a quick masterclass in rum in all its forms.

Rum, rhums — what does it all mean?

best rums for beginners
Photo credit: Malte Wingen

Born in the Caribbean, rum is a spirit distilled from fermented molasses, a byproduct of sugarcane, then aged for at least one year. This generic definition is split into types of rum, classified according to colour. Dark rum is aged the longest, followed by gold, then white rum. There is also rhum, or rhum agricole, hailing from the French Caribbean and is made directly from distilling sugarcane juice.

Though the hotbed of rum remains the Caribbean, countries like Puerto Rico, Cuba and Brazil also have rum industries.

Rums can also be bottled at naval strength, like gin, with an ABV rating of over 50 percent. Overproof rums are the next notch up, and is bottled at 60 percent and up. Finally, spiced rums close the list, and these tend to feature the likes of cinnamon, anise and pepper.

Where does my rum appreciation journey begin?

It’s easy enough to say “drinking”, but drink what is the real question. Outside of going to a rum bar and getting recommendations from an expert, having a list of starting bottles you can own and work your way through is most helpful. We recommend some of the best rums for beginners, great for sipping or cocktails.

Now for the fun part: the best rums for beginners to try

(Hero and featured image credit: Rockpool)

Hailing from one of Jamaica’s most notable distilleries is the Appleton Estate Signature Blend. Although it is not one of the brand’s more premium options, the Signature Blend is a great gateway for making rum cocktails at home, given its simple profile of citrus and touches of oak. Fifteen rums aged at an average of four years compose this blend.


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Straying away from the norms of rum are four friends in Singapore, who teamed up to create Rockpool just last year in the hopes of reinvigorating the spirit’s dusty, old-world label. Here, the three to five year old rums were created to be smooth enough to be enjoyed neat, but also marry beautifully into cocktails, by blending English-style rums from Barbados and Spanish-style rums from the Dominican Republic. All are aged in American oak barrels, creating a spirit that’s complex, balanced, and easy to drink. Make yourself a mojito or get classy with an Old Fashioned, or do things the nautical way, by savouring it neat.


Diplomatico’s Reserva Exclusiva is a rum that does it all. Its sweet body, filled with caramel and fruit cake, wouldn’t be amiss on the rocks or in a Mai Tai. For the price, it has incredible value as one of the most awarded rums in the market too.


Mount Gay has been making rums since 1703, with the Eclipse being one of its most accessible options. Twice distilled in copper stills, this rum is light, sweet and bright, with brown sugar and oak dominating the palate.


A bartender’s favourite, the Plantation Original Dark Rum is a blend of rums of Barbadian and Jamaican origins. Not technically the best for sipping, but excellent at the centre of a mixed drink, here’s one for rum cocktail lovers to grab.


This award-winning expression shows that fine rums don’t have to come at a hefty price point. Rums between six and 23 years old are aged in a Solera vat, imbuing every amber-coloured drop with notes of vanilla, chocolate, wood and stone fruit. Intense, sweet and ideal for sipping on the rocks.

Your guide to the best rums for beginners

Beatrice Bowers

Features Editor

Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.

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