The Best Jamaican Rum Brands
When it comes to rum, these bottles are something special. Check out our picks for the best Jamaican rum brands around.
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With a history as long and complex as the country itself, Jamaican rum stands out from rums produced in other Caribbean countries thanks to its unique fermentation process, wide product range and distinct “funk.”
Jamaican rums are fermented in one of two ways, according to Matt Strickland for Distiller. The first is wild fermentation where loose, airborne yeast lands on open vats of pre-rum and are left to ferment for weeks. The other is to add dunder, the leftover fermented liquid from previously distilled rum, to fermenting rum. Both of these methods produce a ton of fruit and funky flavors that are unmistakably Jamaican.
Nowadays, there are only about seven distilleries across Jamaica that produce a range of rum brands. The most common rums produced in Jamaica include white rum, golden rum, aged rum and overproof rum, which must be 126 proof or higher.
Here, we’ll walk through some of the most popular Jamaican rum brands and show you some delicious rum drinks you can make.
As one of the oldest and most well-known sugar estates and brands, Appleton Estates is a standard when it comes to Jamaican rum. The brand has been led by Master Distiller, Joy Spence since 1997, and utilizes a “cane-to-cocktail” ideology. This means the brand oversees everything from on-site growing and harvesting sugarcane to the distilling, aging and blending of rum.
Appleton Estates offers a range of rums, including their signature rum, 8-, 12-, 15- and 21-years aged rum and the occasional limited edition blends. Peruse these classic rum cocktails for ideas on how to put these rums to work.
A sister brand of Appleton Estate, Wray & Nephew was started back in 1825 by John Wray, a bar owner and businessman, and further developed by his nephew, Charles Ward, an entrepreneur.
Wray & Nephew produces the famous Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, which is the most popular rum in Jamaica, according to Liquor.com. This overproof white rum contains an astounding 63% alcohol and is traditionally served with a bit of water or grapefruit soda. A few drops of this overproof also make a great finishing touch to Tiki cocktails.
Made with wild fermentation, natural spring water and in pot stills, Hampden Estate’s rums have a distinctly funky flavor, thanks to their high levels of esters (a chemical compound that’s a result of the fermentation process).
The brand’s flagship rum is the Hampden Estate Pure Single, which is 84 proof and has notes of nearly overripe tropical fruits, smoke and spices. If you’re feeling ambitious, try the brand’s Overproof iteration with a 60% ABV and intense cherry, wood and spice flavors. Not to mention, both of these rums are about as funky as it gets.
Chances are, you’ve seen Myers’s rum at your local liquor store or have had a cocktail made with it before. Myers’s, which is now owned by Sazerac Company, prides itself on making its rum with 100% Jamaican molasses, which is then fermented, distilled and matured in white oak barrels.
Myers’s Original Dark rum is the more popular of the brand’s two rums (the other being Platinum White rum). The dark rum has a complex flavor with notes of caramel, honey and dark chocolate, which make it perfect in a Dark and Stormy or Planter’s Punch. Check out these other classic cocktails you should definitely know how to make.
A relative newcomer, Rum-Bar was established in 2007 and is produced by Worthy Park Estate in Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica.
The brand carries three types of rum, Silver, Gold and White Overproof, all of which are distilled in copper pot stills from Scotland. Rum-Bar’s Gold Rum takes it a step further and is aged for at least four years in bourbon barrels, to mellow out the apple and banana flavors of the rum with notes of vanilla.
Rum-Bar also carries a unique Rum Cream, a blend of their White Overproof rum and heavy cream, which is begging to be added to your after-dinner coffee.
Started by Chris Blackwell, of Island Records fame, Blackwell Rum is distilled, blended and bottled by Wray & Nephew in the style of an old family rum recipe. (Blackwell’s mother’s family allegedly owned Wray & Nephew and Appleton Estates at some point in their histories.)
Also distilled at Worthy Park, Hamilton Rum is the brainchild of Ed Hamilton, rum importer, author and webmaster of Minister of Rum. Developed after consulting the needs of bartenders, bar owners and liquor store owners throughout the US, Hamilton’s line carries three Jamaican rums; Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum, Jamaican Pot Still Gold Rum and Jamaican Pimento Dram. Additionally, Hamilton produces and imports rums from across the Caribbean.
The Black Rum has a strong scent and is colored with double-strength black sugar-based caramel for a heavy banana and fruit taste. For a lighter flavor and color, the Gold Rum has hints of pineapple and citrus and is made with gold-tint caramel. The brand’s final Jamaican rum is the liqueur Pimento Dram, which is a blend of Jamaican Pimento, or allspice, pot still rum and raw sugar for a product that adds a little something special to punches and rum cocktails.
Run by the National Rums of Jamaica (a joint venture between a branch of the Jamaican government and two private companies) Monymusk rums are produced at Clarendon distillery, a large, modern distillery that is also partially owned by Captain Morgan’s parent company.
Monymusk offers three Jamaican rums in the United States; Special Gold Rum, Classic Gold Rum and Special Reserve, each of which are aged in American oak barrels for at least two years. Their Gold rums are full of orange, fruit and caramel, with the Special Gold being the lighter and sweeter of the two. As the name suggests, The Special Reserve rum has an extended aging period of ten years, tastes of rich vanilla, spice and caramel, and is so smooth, it can be enjoyed on its own or on the rocks.
Next, read up on these traditional Jamaican recipes, according to a local.