To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best rum for cocktails 2023: Get in the party spirit with these party-approved tipples

Discover the best rum for all your favourite cocktails with our tried and tested picks

Rum has always been a party-starter, but the past few years in particular have seen the UK piling on the rum bandwagon, with it now outselling whisky and catching up with gin in retail sales. So if you’re looking for the best rum for cocktails and mixed drinks, there’s now more choice than ever before.

With a complicated and uncomfortable history mired in plantations, the colonies and slavery, rum has its roots deeply in the Caribbean sugar trade and was originally produced as a by-product of the industry. Today, it’s still made from pressed sugar cane or molasses, which is then fermented, distilled and often matured in casks, barrels or steel before being blended and/or bottled. 

There are few restrictions when it comes to making rum (when compared to whisky, for example), so provenance, ingredients and methods can sometimes be a bit shady. Ideally you’ll want to know where the rum has been distilled and matured, using what materials and for how long it has been aged. If these things are on the label, it will give you a few hints as to how the rum may taste and how much care and quality has been involved in its production. 

READ NEXT: The best gin

Best rum for cocktails: At a glance

How to choose the best rum for cocktails

What are the different types of rum?

There are a few main varieties of rum, but increasingly the terminology is broad, and distillers, bartenders and industry types are looking to get away from categorising them in strict terms. Aside from a few exceptions, rum is pretty unregulated when it comes to things such as ageing, added flavours and colours, so it can be hard to put things in a box. Having said that, most people will widely recognise white rum, dark rum, spiced rum, Navy and overproof rums and look for types of spirit within these recognised parameters. 

White rum is generally unaged and then filtered to remove any colours. Expect sharp, clean citrus and light caramel flavours with little else. The longer a rum is aged, and depending on whether wooden casks or barrels are used, the deeper the colour and flavour – running from light golden amber to a treacle-like black colour. These can have flavours of banana, oak, smoke, vanilla, spice and so much more, depending on where the rum originates from and the nature of maturation.

People used to turn their nose up at spiced rum, as it could be synthetic tasting and of poor quality. Today, though, spiced rums are some of the most popular, and we are now spoilt for choice with some great-tasting examples. 

Navy rum is subject to a few restrictions in order to call itself so: it must be between 54-57% ABV (more on that later) and has to contain at least two aged rums from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad. These conditions make it fiery and sweet, with deep molasses flavours.

Overproof rum refers to any rum with an alcohol volume higher than Navy rum, many of which are around the 63% mark, making for a seriously strong swig designed to be diluted.

How do I drink them?

Well-made rums can be sipped and enjoyed in the same way you would a brandy or whisky, but today we’ve got our cocktail-making hat on. Rum is so versatile – and there are so many styles – that it’s easy to conjure up a plethora of amazing-tasting cocktails and mixed drinks with just a bit of know-how. There are no hard and fast rules, but white rums are typically great in mojitos, daiquiris and long tropical drinks, while darker or spiced rums will suit your dark and stormies, stand up to cola mixers and bring out the flavours of ginger-based cocktails. We also love updating any classics – think negronis, old-fashioneds and the like with a favourite rum. Whether it’s a party drink, aperitivo hour or just something to wind down with on the sofa after a long day, rum is your friend. 

How we test rum for cocktails

Although we’re looking for the best rum for cocktails, we first try each rum in our list neat, to gauge its pure flavour profile and ​​to pick out flavours worth honing in on. We’re also interested in whether each tipple reflects the maker’s claims. Where brands or makers have suggested specific serves, eg. a cuba libre, we shake up each cocktail with the designated rum, or use our own initiative given the flavours detected in the neat sample.

We always try to perform group tests where we can and pit similarly priced bottles against each other to find the best products with value in mind. Testing several rums in quick succession makes it easier to compare the styles and quality of each bottle, allowing us to rule out sub-par spirits in our search for the best around. Taste is subjective, of course, so we also sense-check our findings with a panel of cocktail-loving helpers to bring you our final scores.

READ NEXT: The best whiskies

The best rum for cocktails you can buy in 2023

1. Veritas White Blended Rum: The best white cocktail rum 

Price: £33 | Buy now from Master of Malt

Not a fan of white rum? Nor were we until we tried this. Banish all thoughts of the tasteless, mass-produced firewater you’ve tried before: this is the real deal and it’s completely delicious. A blend of two traditional white rums – unaged coffey column still rum from the award-winning family-run Foursquare distillery in Barbados and two-year-aged rum from master blender Richard Seale – Veritas is bursting with holiday flavours. Free from colours and flavourings, its sunny yellowish hue sets it apart from the usual white rums and can be explained by the presence of the aged rum, which is also responsible for the heady banana aroma and sweet, sunshine-filled taste.

This rum makes an absolutely killer daiquiri: a splash of sugar syrup (not too much as it’s naturally quite a sweet rum) and plenty of lime juice is all this needs to get the party started. A true revelation; don’t you dare waste it in a Diet Coke.

Key details – ABV: 47%; Size: 70cl

Buy now from Master of Malt

2. Goslings Black Seal 151 Proof: The best overproof for cocktails

Price: £38 | Buy now from Master of Malt

This is a high-strength dark rum from Bermuda that will blow your socks off and put some fire in your belly. It’s wise to sip this one carefully, but we promise that despite the whopping ABV, it’s a very smooth rum all things considered, though still with the bite you’d want and expect. With a deeply warming caramel flavour, lots of smokey molasses and a bit of spice, this will give you some cocktails to remember – or not, as the case may be.

Make it into a very naughty-but-nice Zombie cocktail: 25ml white rum, 25ml Goslings, 50ml lime shaken with plenty of pineapple juice and ice, pour into a glass with a teaspoon of grenadine and garnish with orange and cherries. Just be careful: this one sneaks up on you. 

Key details – ABV: 75.5%; Size: 70cl 

Buy now from Master of Malt

3. Bacardi Spiced: The best budget option

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

We’re all familiar with Bacardi, aren’t we? One of the best-known rum brands in the world, but perhaps not always for the best reasons. Despite its reputation, it’s still worth considering one of its more premium bottlings or this affordably priced Bacardi Spiced if you’re throwing a party. Made with both aged and unaged rums and blended with natural spices (this is key, as many rums use artificial versions), this rum has both light and dark notes, making it a versatile rum for knocking up a variety of cocktails and mixed drinks. 

Think nutmeg, cinnamon and just a hint of allspice berries, as well as a dose of smoke from its ageing in charred American oak casks. It finishes with moreish, mellow vanilla, making it a not-too-strong crowd pleaser. 

Key details – ABV: 35%; Size: 70cl 

4. Bumbu The Original Rum: The best all-rounder 

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Here we have the epitome of a good Bajan rum. A deep amber colour with tons of sweet vanilla on the nose, there’s even more of the same on the palate but with an added complexity to justify its slightly more premium price. Using thoughtfully chosen natural spices to add the flavours of the Caribbean, this is a rum that has drawn on its history to become the world’s fastest-growing and most celebrated rum brand.

We can’t get enough of the spiced butter and caramel nuttiness, and it’s pleasingly smooth and mild in the mouth – an excellent one to sip after a chilly winter walk. For cocktails, though, you’re looking at a deliciously festive, hot buttered rum or a really good Cuba Libre. 

Key details – ABV: 40%; Size: 70cl 

5. Hattiers Resolute Blended Aged Navy Strength Rum: The best premium rum for cocktails

Price: £55 | Buy now from Harvey Nichols

Navy-strength rum – those with an ABV of 54-57% – originated after the Royal Navy invaded Jamaica in the 17th century and began giving its sailors a daily ration of rum. The rum had to be at a strength that it wouldn’t ruin the gunpowder if they mixed during rough seas (gunpowder ignites at 54%). It also had the benefit of emboldening the men in the face of gunfire, one would imagine. 

Today, Navy rum will still put hairs on your chest but can also taste fantastic. This one from Hattiers is a beauty – and sustainable to boot. A certified B Corp rum, Hattiers uses a plastic-free and carbon-negative production process to blend rums from around the world. These include an eight-year-old Foursquare from Barbados, a five-year-old from Australia, two Guyanese blends and a four-year-old Jamaican, in Resolute’s case. The result is toasty, warm, dark brown sugar, buttery brioche, a tropical banana-heavy fruit bowl and a sophisticated waft of smoke across the top to stop it drifting into sweetness. Great in a super-strength old-fashioned. 

Key details – ABV: 54.5%; Size: 70cl 

Buy now from Harvey Nichols

6. The Duppy Share Aged Caribbean Rum: The best golden rum for cocktails

Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

Taking its name from the spirit that steals a share of the rum during maturation (according to Caribbean legend), the Duppy Share Aged is an award-winning blend of two fine golden rums. While the non-aged Duppy Share rum tends towards lighter sugars and fruited spices, this aged version ramps things up a bit.

Three-year-old pot still rum from the prestigious Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica is skilfully balanced against a well-matured five-year-old rum from Foursquare, to create a silky-smooth, caramel-scented tropical rum with a honey butter finish and subtle spices running throughout. Take advantage of this delicious, flexible rum and make it into drinks that emphasise the natural spice: mix with ginger beer, or shake up stellar mai tais for your mates. 

Key details – ABV: 40%; Size: 70cl

7. Dead Man’s Fingers Passion Fruit Rum: The best flavoured rum for cocktails

Price: £21 | Buy now from Master of Malt

Down in St Ives, Dead Man’s Fingers took the original spiced rum from its Rum and Crab Shack and ran with this juicy, passion-fruit-filled take. Unlike the crazy flavoured gins on the market, this stays true to itself as a rum first and foremost and isn’t too much of a departure from the authentic spiced spirit. You’ve still got those recognisable notes inspired by the rum’s Cornish home: saffron cake and Pedro Ximinez ice cream abound. Here, though, there’s a clear, tangy passion fruit flavour that mingles well with the natural tropical notes of the rum – plenty of pineapple and mango set off ginger spice and caramel for complexity.

We’ve heard this described as a “dessert rum” and we’d agree; otherwise think about bringing your pornstar martini bang up to date with a good slug of this. 

Key details – ABV: 37.5%; Size: 70cl

Buy now from Master of Malt

8. Aluna Coconut Rum: The best coconut rum for cocktails

Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

Aluna is a multi-award-winning blend of rums from Guatemala and the Caribbean infused with natural toasted coconut and responsibly sourced coconut water. It has won legions of coconut-crazy fans behind the bar at the Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers, Ivy Asia and the Giggling Squid. A light rum made from first-pressed sugar cane, it’s the obvious choice for fruit-forward tropical cocktails (hello pina colada) and conjures up visions of white sandy beaches and freshly cracked coconuts – no synthetic stickiness here.

We love that this rum uses less sugar than other coconut rums – and more rum strength, for this is not a liqueur – making for a decidedly more adult vibe and helping to erase any Malibu-based youthful misdemeanours. Stir into hot chocolate for a slice of Bounty-inspired indulgence, or take your espresso martini to more tropical climes with a healthy splash of Aluna in place of vodka. 

Key details – ABV: 37.5%; Size: 70cl 

Read more

Best Buys