Picking out a gift for a friend or family member who loves rum, but you’re not a rum expert yourself? This short guide has your dilemma in mind!
In what follows, you’ll find concrete recommendations for readily available rums that have a much greater chance of delighting the giftee. I can’t promise you that every bottle will be the perfect selection for the recipient, but by following these recommendations you’ll have a much lower chance of them slapping their forehead in dismay after your departure.
You’ll probably have to venture beyond your supermarket or corner liquor for some of these bottles. But most are available in larger liquor stores or online. I’ve deliberately focused on bottles in the $30 to $120 range, which is where most gift giving occurs.
Also note that the absence of a bottle here doesn’t mean it’s a bad rum. It may just not be readily available or too obscure. There may be some other hard-to-explain reason why I chose not to include it. Also, I may have just plain forgotten it. I’ve also tried not to reference brands for which I have no firsthand experience.
What NOT to Buy
While grocery and liquor store aisles are crowded with names like Captain Morgan, The Kraken and Sailor Jerry, these are heavily sweetened spiced rums. Most rum enthusiasts aren’t fans of these mass market rums, even the “limited editions”.
So, in short, I wouldn’t recommended gifting the following brands:
- Captain Morgan
- The Kraken
- Sailor Jerry’s
- Anything with a pirate or fictional marine life on the label
Although different than spiced rums, most flavored rums are also not beloved by the rum enthusiast crowd. As such, I wouldn’t suggest gifting rums such as:
- Bacardi coconut, lemon, melon, peach, raspberry (you get the idea)
- Malibu (anything)
- Blue Chair Bay (anything)
Good Gifting Rums
If you know a little bit about what style of rums the giftee likes, it can be a big help in narrowing down the following suggestions. I’ve organized them by sections to assist with this.
- Appleton – Rare Blend (12 year), 21 year, Joy. (Joy is a bit outside the target price range, but if you want to splurge…)
- Worthy Park – Single Estate Reserve
- Monymusk – Special Reserve
- Hampden Estate – Pure Single Jamaican Rum
- Plantation – Xaymaca
- Mount Gay – XO, 1703
- Foursquare / R.L. Seale – Doorly’s 12 year, Doorly’s 14 year, Real McCoy 12 year, Foursquare Exceptional Cask (many different expressions)
Angostura – 1919, 1824, 1787
Chairman’s Reserve – Many expressions, including the 1931.
Havana Club – 7 year, Selección de Maestros, 15 year
- Don Q – Gran Añejo
- Bacardi – 8 year, 10 year
The French island of Martinique is blessed with an abundance of great distilleries. It’s really hard to make a bad choice. Also, unlike with most rums from other locales, unaged Martinique rhum is highly valued. This is just a partial list:
- Rhum J.M – Many expressions
- Rhum Clément – Many expressions
- Rhum St. James – Many expressions
- Trois Rivières – Many expressions
- La Favorite – Many expressions
- Depaz – Many expressions
- La Mauny – Many expressions
Brugal – 1888
- Privateer – Several expressions, including Distiller’s Drawer
- Montanya – Several expressions
On the Sweeter Side
Some rums are sweetened in various ways. Some enthusiasts enjoy the resulting rum. Others are virulently against sweetening. Here are some of the more popular sweeter rums enjoyed by enthusiasts:
- Ron Zacapa -23 and XO
- El Dorado – 12 year, 15 year, 21 year
- Diplomatico – Reserva Exclusiva
- Abuelo – 12 year, XV, Centuria
- Plantation – XO 20th Anniversary Barbados Rum
Independently Bottled Rums
Although they can get quite spendy, rums from Independent bottlers (as opposed to the actual rum makers) are quite popular with rum enthusiasts. They make for great gifts, but trying to explain the ins/outs of Indie-bottled rums is quite complicated, and there’s just so many! I’d suggested finding another rum-loving friend to help you if you choose to go this route.
I know I’ve thrown a lot of names at you, but hopefully you’re now less stricken by terror when picking out a rum as a gift. Good luck!