There’s the rum that most people think of when they hear the word—the bottom-shelf brands you’ll find in every liquor store, their large marketing budgets emphasizing beaches and bikinis over distillation techniques, pirates and parties over aging methods. Then there are the upscale sipping rums that may or may not contain sugar, coloring or various chemicals and flavorings added after distillation, all in pursuit of a sweet, smooth, approachable finished product.
And then there are the rums you’ll find here—made all over the world, distilled in myriad ways, some at distilleries that are hundreds of years old, eschewing additives, aged where they’re distilled and with flavor profiles that may not necessarily appeal to the typical Captain Morgan drinker. These are the rums that are getting people excited about the category, the ones that are slowly but surely changing perceptions of what rum is and what it’s supposed to be. These rums won’t all appeal to every taste, but taken together, they’re at least a partial snapshot of where rum is today, where it’s been and where it’s going.