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One of the best things about rum is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a good bottle. Many brands have entry-level products that are excellent for sipping and mixing and won’t cost you more than $30. Sure, there are some expensive ultra-aged expressions available, but there’s really no need to break the bank when looking for dependable rum. Here are some of the best cheap rums to drink that don't sacrifice quality.
Best Overall: Havana Club A?ejo Clasico
"A great rum that has a rich history is Havana Club A?ejo Clasico,” says Darnell Holguin, co-host of the Azucar y Limon podcast and beverage partner of Las' Lap. “This blend is said to be the original recipe created in Cuba back in the 1930s. After the Cuban regime annexed the distillery in 1960, the recipe for this blend was thought to be gone forever. Now we are lucky to get a hint of the past with this beautiful, affordable rum with notes of tropical fruits and hints of vanilla and oak."
Best Spiced: Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum
Cruzan’s 9 Spiced Rum is an aged rum that uses, as the name suggests, nine different spices to create a floral bouquet on the nose and a complex palate. These spices include allspice, vanilla, pepper, ginger, mace, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and juniper berry. Try this one in your favorite tropical drink, or use it in a Hot Toddy during the colder months.
Related: The Best Spiced Rums
Best for Mojitos: Bacardi Superior
A classic Mojito is a simple but refreshing cocktail combining mint, sugar, lime and white rum. Bacardi’s core expression, Superior, works perfectly in this timeless drink. It’s light with just a bit of sweetness that helps the citrus and herbal flavors shine in the drink. Plus, because this is a white rum, its appearance won’t be affected.
Best for Rum & Coke: Chairman's Reserve Original
Saint Lucia is the home of Chairman’s Reserve Rum, made using both column and pot stills from molasses in Guyana. This rum is a blend that averages around five years of maturation in ex-bourbon barrels before resting in oak vats for another six months. Don’t hesitate to sip this on its own, but try it in a Rum & Coke to really elevate the simple drink. The brown sugar, banana, and spice flavors work well with the sweetness of the cola.
Best Sipping Rum: El Dorado 12 Year Old
"El Dorado 12 Years Old from Guyana is adored for its spicy, earthy, butter and coconut flavor notes,” says Nestor Marchand, the director of food and beverage at Plunge Beach Resort in Florida. “Overall, it’s a very good rum for sipping.” The rum is distilled in column and pot stills and aged for a minimum of 12 years in oak barrels. Enjoy this on its own or with a large ice cube.
Related: The Best Sipping Rums
Best White Rum: Flor de Ca?a 4 Year Old Extra Seco
This rum from Nicaragua's Flor de Ca?a "stands out for its light body,” says Frederic Najem, the director of food and beverage at Bank & Bourbon and Loews Philadelphia Hotel. “It’s a very smooth rum to drink, with notes of fresh vanilla and flavors of toasted coconut and wood. There’s a slightly dry finish. It blends perfectly with soda or sparkling water, or in punches and tropical cocktails.”
Best Dark Rum: Plantation Original Dark
"Plantation Original Dark Rum’s banana and vanilla notes create a delicious blend that is perfect for any cocktail creation,” says Carlos Lopez, the bar manager of Stiltsville Fish Bar in Miami Beach. “The rum is finished in wooden vats in France, which gives it a perfect finish that allows for it to be enjoyed by itself as well.”
Related: The Best Rums
Best for Pi?a Coladas: Bacardi Reserva Ocho
Pablo Guerrero, the food and beverage manager of Azabu Miami Beach, recommends trying this higher-end but still affordable Bacardi rum. “It’s a blend of rums aged between 8 and 16 years old,” he says. “It still produces a medium body and enjoyable mix of spices like vanilla, nutmeg and dried fruits. I advise enjoying it over ice to open up all of its spices.” It also works well in a Pi?a Colada, as the mix of spice and fruit flavors balance the inherent sweetness of the drink.
Best Overproof: Wray & Nephew White Rum
"Wray & Nephew White Rum is an iconic Jamaican rum,” says Reniel Garcia, the bar director of Havana 1957 in Miami Beach. “The tasting notes include fruit and molasses with a spicy finish.” These flavors manage to shine despite its high proof of 126. This is definitely more of a cocktail component than a sipping rum and works well in any classic rum drink you can think of.
Best Jamaican: Appleton Estate Signature Blend
Jamaica makes some of the best rums out there, known for having earthy and funky notes on the palate that intertwine with tropical fruit flavors and sweetness. The core expression from Appleton Estate is inexpensive and delicious, a blend of rums from column and pot stills that’s aged for an average of four years. This should be your go-to rum for making cocktails.
Best Barbados: Mount Gay Eclipse
Eclipse is the lightest and youngest rum (at 2 years old) from esteemed Barbados distillery Mount Gay, but it has a strong, deep flavor and delivers on quality and value. Vanilla, caramel and banana notes pop with each sip, but this is primarily a mixing rum and provides the right balance of spice and sweetness to complement any cocktail, classic or new-school.
Related: The Best Cocktail Glasses
Best for Dark ’n Stormy: Goslings Black Seal
Technically you can’t even call a drink a Dark ’n Stormy unless you are using Goslings, as the brand owns the trademark for this combination of dark rum and ginger beer. While you can try using different kinds of rum, Goslings certainly stands above the rest. It’s a combination of aged dark rums sourced from other countries, then blended and aged in Bermuda. Black Seal is rich and flavorful with notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and stone fruit that offset the spiciness of ginger beer perfectly.
Related: The Best Dark Rums
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Jonah Flicker is an experienced writer who has been covering spirits and traveling the world visiting distilleries for many years. His work has appeared in many different national outlets covering trends, new releases, and the stories and innovators behind the spirits. His first love remains whiskey, but he is partial to tequila, rum, gin, cognac and all things distilled.