Rum is one of the oldest distilled spirits in the world. Originally the idea of adding spices to it was a highly practical attempt to mask the imperfections in early distilling practices – as with botanicals in gin.
As distilling techniques improved and drinking habits changed, spiced rum settled into a small niche, dominated by crowd-pleasing brands such as Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold (£13.75/70cl, Asda, Amazon, Master of Malt, Tesco. Alc 35%). With its rich, sweet, vanilla and caramel flavour the Captain is perfect for parties.
Rum is a key ingredient is many of the most famous cocktails, including the Mojito and Daiquiri. Learn more about rum cocktails, including recipes and top tips in spirit expert Laura Foster’s rum cocktails to make at home feature.
‘When it comes to spirits trends, rum’s star is on the rise,’ says Foster. ‘Consumer knowledge and appreciation of this hugely complex spirit has grown, and so too has the number of quality expressions and brands that are now available to buy.’
There is a growing selection of artisan spiced rums to choose from and we’ve rounded up eight of the best below, so get sipping and/or mixing.
Eight of the best spiced rums to try
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, St Lucia
£20-£24.47/70cl, Amazon, Master of Malt, Waitrose
A deep mahogany blend of aged rums, steeped with native Caribbean bois bandé tree bark and spices including nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. You’ll notice those spices on the nose, along with bitter orange and dried fruit notes, leading to a rich, complex palate of sweet spices beautifully balanced by fresh citrus. Versatile enough for sipping or mixing – and great value for money too. Alc 40%
Elements Eight Exotic Spices, St Lucia
£31.31-£30.83/70cl, Amazon, The Drink Shop, Master of Malt
This artisan rum is made with a spice mix that includes cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and star anise, but thanks to honey, vanilla and coconut – and ageing in bourbon barrels – it’s got a sweeter taste profile than many spiced rums. Aromas of citrus, dried orange peel and cloves are followed by a mellow palate, with ginger and nutmeg notes on the finish. Alc 40%
Foursquare Spiced Rum, Barbados
£21.99-£27/70cl, Amazon, Master of Malt, Simply Wines Direct, The Whisky Exchange
If you’re looking for a subtly spiced rum, then Foursquare is an ideal choice. Harmonious notes of cinnamon, cloves and vanilla sit alongside sweet flavours of toffee apple, barley sugar and gingerbread on the palate. A versatile rum in cocktails, Foursquare makes a great Bajan Mule: a fresh mix of ginger ale, Angostura bitters and lime. Alc 37.5%
£32.25-£33.95/50cl, 31Dover, Amazon, Booths, Drink Finder, Majestic, Master of Malt, Selfridges, The Whisky Exchange, Twisted Cellar
Using a base of molasses rum from Guyana’s Diamond Distillery, Manchester’s Rockstar Spirits produces an eye-catching range of spiced rums. The pineapple and salted caramel flavours of Pineapple Grenade is a winner in knock-out Tiki cocktails; you’ll also find Passionfruit and Grapefruit Grenades. But if you prefer a more sedate 38% abv, opt for Captain Webb’s Two Swallows Spiced. Alc 64%
Sailor Jerry Spiced, US Virgin Islands
£19.99-£21/70cl, Master of Malt, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco
This Caribbean rum was named in honour of the famous tattoo artist ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins. The original recipe was altered slightly in 2010 (causing much debate) producing a spicier, less sweet rum. With notes of Christmas spices – especially cinnamon and vanilla – plus black pepper, it makes a cracking spiced Mojito or Spiced Rum Old Fashioned. Alc 40%
The Duppy Share Spiced, Jamaica & Barbados
£23.95-£33.99/70cl, Amazon, Master of Malt, Selfridges, The Whisky Exchange
A blend of Caribbean rums from Jamaica’s Worthy Park distillery and Foursquare in Barbados (see above), this has exuberant fruity aromas of fresh pineapple and caramelised roast pineapple, plus creamy butterscotch. Sweet and fruity, the palate is packed with pineapple; warm brown baking spices and dried ginger lounge across the mellow finish, with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Try it in rum punch or a Pineapple Daiquiri. Alc 37.5%
The Kraken Black Spiced ‘Unknown Deep’, Trinidad & Tobago
This Caribbean rum is named after a legendary sea monster, and its latest limited-edition ‘Unknown Deep’ tentacled black bottle would look right at home on a pirate ship. Dark brown, with spicy black treacle aromas, plus mellow fruity top notes. The sweet, velvety palate has a hit of balancing spice. Layers of flavour: toffee, black treacle, Garibaldi biscuits, dried fruit, some fresher citrus and lots of dark spice on the long finish. £1 from the sale of each Unknown Deep bottle is donated to the ocean conservation charity Project Aware. Alc 40%
Two Drifters Spiced Rum, UK
£33.30-£38/70cl, Christopher Piper Wines, John Lewis, Master of Malt, Virgin Wines
The environmentally friendly Two Drifters Distillery in Devon has a focus on sustainability, meaning their rums have a carbon-negative footprint. Made from fermented molasses, this is light golden brown in colour; the sweet and spicy nose shows banana toffee and tropical fruit. The palate is light, with an emphasis on dry, woody spices; notes of cardamom, aniseed and liquorice linger on the finish. One for sipping, rather than mixing. Alc 40%