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Best dark rum 2023: Deliciously dark tipples ideal for sipping and mixing

Best dark rum

Treat your tastebuds with our pick of the best dark rums

Sticky, sweet, fruity and rich, the best dark rums offer a complex tasting experience that’s as good in a dark and stormy cocktail as it is on its own. While lighter, spiced rums are often the more popular choice, the sweeter flavour profile of dark rum makes it an excellent choice for rum lovers across the board.

In our roundup below, you’ll find our recommended dark rums for every spirit enthusiast. So whether you’re completely new to dark rum and want to ease yourself in gently, or you’re already a rum lover looking for your new favourite, these are some of the very best dark rums you can buy.

If you want to know more about what makes dark rum unique, as well as how much you should spend, then be sure to read our short buying guide below. Otherwise, scroll on for our top picks for every budget.

How to choose the best dark rum for you

What is dark rum?

There are so many different styles of rum, from white and golden to spiced, dark, aged and navy. More confusingly still, many rums can fall into more than one of these categories. So what makes dark rum dark?

The main criteria for a rum to be classed as “dark” are the ingredients used and often, but not always, the ageing process. All rum is distilled from sugarcane, but dark rum will also have molasses and/or colouring added to give it its distinct colour and bitter-sweet flavour.

Dark rum is also typically aged for longer than golden or light rums in barrels after distillation, allowing extra time for the rich flavours to develop. However, because the regulations on how dark rum can be produced are not as strict as some other dark spirits, it doesn’t have to be aged to be classed as dark. Sometimes natural colouring, such as caramel, is added to give it its colour.

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How much should I spend on dark rum?

Like most spirits, spending a bit more will often get you a better product, but price doesn’t always indicate quality. You could spend £40 on three different types of dark rum, only to find that one is far superior to the others.

Good bottles start at around £20, but spend a little more and you’ll discover rums with more complex flavours. All the rums on this list are priced at around £20 to £50, so no matter your budget, you’ll find a dark rum that’s ideal for sipping and savouring.

How we test dark rum

At Expert Reviews, we ensure all our spirits go through rigorous testing to ensure everything on our list is not only excellent value for money, but also caters to a variety of tastes. We first test our dark rum on its own – if you’re considering a dark rum to enjoy on its own as well as with a mixer, you want to be sure it’s top-notch before spending your hard earned money. Our initial test assesses whether it meets the maker’s description and tasting notes, as well as allowing us to note any additional flavours we might discover.

We then match our dark rum with its most common mixers to see how it performs in a long drink and finally, we try it out in a range of cocktails. Some rums are best sipped neat, while others shine alongside other ingredients – our testing finds the right rum for each job. Once we’re done with the tasting, we focus on comparing it against similar products to ask an important question – is it good value for money?

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The best dark rums to buy in 2023

1. Havana Club Añejo 7 Year Old: Best value dark rum

Price: £25 | Buy now from Master of Malt

If you’re looking to dip your toe into the world of dark rum but don’t want to throw all your money into one bottle, this affordable option from Havana Club is the perfect balance between price and quality.

There are notes of sweet toffee and dried fruit, and while it’s rich, the flavours aren’t overpowering, making it an excellent choice for most people. We really enjoyed this as a punchy mixer and in cocktails, but it’s also nice enough to enjoy as a sipping rum if you’re on a budget.

Key details – ABV: 40%; Volume: 70L

Buy now from Master of Malt

2. Brugal 1888: Best aged sipping dark rum

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

Produced in the Dominican Republic, Brugal 1888 not only looks the part but is also bursting with classic, punchy dark rum flavours. Alongside vanilla, toffee and dried red fruits, there are also hints of bourbon and sherry thanks to its long, double-cask ageing process.

This is an incredibly rich rum, with a wonderful depth of flavour, securing its place as an excellent sipping rum to savour at room temperature or over ice. If you want to experiment with using it in a cocktail, it’s best used in something classic, such as an old-fashioned, so you can still enjoy all the complexity it has to offer. While this isn’t the cheapest rum on our list, we think it’s worth every penny.

Key details – ABV: 40%; Volume: 70L

3. OVD Demerara: Best budget dark rum for mixing

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

This cheap-as-chips rum might not have all the complex flavours of some of our other favourites, but it’s still a good buy nonetheless. OVD stands for “old vatted demerara” and is a style of blending unique to Guyana. It’s distilled in a wood Coffey still in the region, before being sent to Glasgow to be blended.

Much like the other dark rums on our list, there are strong flavours of toffee and dried fruit. However, OVD has a shorter, spicy finish that’s a little less complex and is why it’s our favourite for mixing, rather than sipping. Try this in a dark and stormy cocktail or mixed with your favourite cola for a lovely long drink that’s perfect at parties.

Key details – ABV: 40%; Volume: 70L

4. Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof: Best overproof dark rum

Price: £37 | Buy now from Amazon

For rum lovers after a proper, traditional navy-strength bottle, Pusser’s multiple award-winning Gunpowder Proof is an instant classic. Rich and full-bodied, you can expect plenty of dried fruits, including prunes, figs and dates. All that fruit means it’s also beautifully syrupy, with a long, lingering finish.

This rum is best enjoyed at room temperature to bring out its distinct flavours, but it’s also delicious with a simple cola mixer. Just be careful of its high ABV, which can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

Key details – ABV: 54.4%; Volume: 70L

5. El Dorado 15-Year-Old Special Reserve: Best premium dark rum

Price: £48 | Buy now from Amazon

For a truly premium dark rum experience, there’s nothing better than this 15-year-old bottle. Made from a blend of Caribbean rums that have been aged in oak barrels for an incredible 15 years, El Dorado Special Reserve is a harmony of rich, fruity flavours. It’s thick and heavy on the molasses, with a good hint of spice throughout. Add to this some decadent brown sugar and tropical fruit notes and you’re left with a rich, lingering finish that’s sure to stay with you.

This rum has clearly had a lot of time and effort put into it, making it the ideal sipping tipple to enjoy on a special occasion. Whether you’re buying it for yourself or a rum-loving friend, it’s certainly not going to disappoint.

Key details – ABV: 40%; Volume: 70L

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