The best dark rum 2018: rich and mellow flavours for your drinks cabinet

From the Caribbean to South America, we line up the best dark rum for a flavoursome tot

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Back in the day, rum was rationed out to Navy Officers as a toss to good health, as they feared the ghastly implications of drinking festering ship water. Now, its rich flavours are enjoyed by landlubbers and sea dwellers alike, with extra special ones, like our top pick Black Tot Last Consignment, reserved for those momentous occasions where pouring oneself the most expensive measure of rum you’ll ever drink (a standard 25ml shot would cost you the region of £23), is very much justified.

 

Rum, if of reputable quality, is best enjoyed in a tumbler glass, at room temperature – no Coke, no crushed raspberries, and no ginger beer. That doesn’t mean you should stick your nose up at a spicy Dark and Stormy or a fruity Daiquiri, but this article is about celebrating the best rum, and that means you should give it the respect it deserves and take it in its most natural form. 

When taken neat, dried fruit, coffee, dark chocolate, oak and leather are typical flavours that your palate will experience. These intensely rich flavours are complemented by an often subtle caramel molasses base. The origin of the rum can have an impact on the flavour of it, with blends from Central America and the Caribbean often taking on a sweeter taste, compared to blends from Cuba and Barbados, which are lighter and punchier.

Our list of the best dark rums focuses on the rich, deep flavours of Caribbean and Central American rum, with selections originating from Guyana, Guatemala and Venezuela. From the rich, heady Black Tot Last Confinement to the sweet, stickiness of El Dorado, dessert or nightcap, we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy the flavours of these exceptional dark rums. 

The best dark rum

1. Black Tot Last Consignment

A send off to the old tot tradition, this dark rum marks a point in history and should leave a significant trace on your tongue, too

Specifications
Best for: The ultimate buy
Alcohol content: 54.3%
Colouring: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Rich and luxurious+Not too sweet compared to others
Reasons to avoid
-Don’t, whatever you do, drop the bottle

The bad news is this bottle will take a hefty chunk out of your pocket, the good news is, it’s totally worth it - and trust us, by Black Tot standards, this bottle is totally reasonable (a bottle of the Black Tot 40 Year Old Rum will set you back £1500). 

Tasters write of a rich, sticky nose of treacle and black fruit, with a rumbling of black banana and liquorice underneath. With a taste that mellows on the tongue to reveal blackcurrant and blackberry followed by espresso and cacao, Black Tot Last Consignment is a divulgent rum worthy of its price tag.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

2. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

Sweet and sticky with a fruit cake nose, those after a post dinner beverage should add this dark rum to their drinks cabinet

Specifications
Best for: Sweetness
Alcohol content: 40%
Colouring: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Sweet and sticky+Deep flavours
Reasons to avoid
-Too sweet for some tasters

If you have a sweet tooth, or your looking for the perfect post dinner beverage, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva should have a spot in your drinks cabinet. With tasters suggesting hints of chocolate, fudge and tropical fruit on the palate and an indulgent chocolate nose, this is a true dark rum worthy of the awards it has won. Despite its popularity among critics, some tasters comment that it’s too sweet, with perhaps less experienced palates being overwhelmed by its caramel base.

Ron Zacapa Centenario XO Rum Solera Gran Reserva Especial

3. Ron Zacapa Centenario XO Rum Solera Gran Reserva Especial

For chilling out in a comfy chair; tumbler of rum in one hand, fat cigar in the other

Specifications
Best for: Sipping
Alcohol content: 40%
Colouring: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Arguably the best tasting rum in the world+Complement it with a Cuban cigar
Reasons to avoid
- Some prefer the taste of the Ron Zacapa 23 

While Ron Zacapa express that the XO is a blend of rums aged between 6-25 years, what it lacks in age it makes up with its unique flavour. Balancing the sweetness of brown sugar and molasses with the savoury flavours of spicy oak, cedar and tobacco, deep down, this is a complex rum ideal for enjoying alongside a cigar. 

Tasters say it doesn’t fall victim to the stickiness of other traditional Central American rums, making it the perfect advocate for the Super-Premium category at the International Rum Festival… and its hefty price tag. 

El Dorado Rum 15 Year Old

4. El Dorado Rum 15 Year Old

Another award winning rum… which apparently tastes like Christmas Cake

Specifications
Best for: A seasonal beverage
Alcohol content: 43%
Colouring: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Warm and spicy+Syrupy and dessert-like
Reasons to avoid
-Too sickly for some

If you’re looking for the ideal seasonal beverage, we think this El Dorado number will fit the bill nicely. With tasters noting spicy dried fruit, honey, ginger and oak, it’s a Christmas cake in a glass, and the ideal choice for a post dinner beverage. 

While rich in taste, it has a medium body, and experts find the flavours to balance nicely, deeming it a great people pleaser (showcased by the fact that it’s won the Wray & Nephew Trophy for Best Rum in the World for times on the trot). 

Santa Teresa 1796

5. Santa Teresa 1796

Neat or in a cocktail… Santa Teresa is a versatile rum and a drink’s cabinet staple

Specifications
Best for: An Old Fashioned
Alcohol content: 43%
Colouring: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Smooth, dry and balanced+Serve on ice or in an Old Fashioned
Reasons to avoid
-A bit too dry for some

The dry nature of the Santa Teresa 1796 makes it the ideal accompaniment to an Old Fashioned - a blend of rum, Angostura bitters, water, sugar, ice and orange peel. Aside from that, it’s recommended that you serve this rum on the rocks or with a dash of water, which should distinguish its rich flavour. 

Tasters say it’s easy to drink, with Venezuelans themselves claiming this is the best rum that their country produces. Winner of the best Aged Rums 15+ at the International Cane Spirits Festival, there’s certainly plenty of reasons why you should invest in this number.