In Review

The best rums for summer 2020

Banish those lockdown blues with a bottle of one of these luxurious spirits


It can be hard in the UK to really get into the spirit of summer. Often the weather lets us down and even when it doesn’t, the nation's beaches can leave a little to be desired.

But, if there’s one drink that will whisk you away to a tropical beach quicker than you can say “piña colada”, it’s a luxurious bottle of rum.

As perfect on its own as it is with mixers in a Jamaican Mule or a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, here’s our selection of the best rums to choose this summer.

Don Papa Rum

Distilled from some of the finest sugar cane in the world on the island of Negros in the Philippines, Don Papa Rum is first aged for more than seven years in American Oak barrels before being blended to perfection.

The rum is best mixed into its signature cocktail, Darker Don. You’ll need 45ml of Don Papa, 15ml of Calamansi Juice, 45ml of ginger beer, two dashes of bitters, a lime wedge and a little mint garnish.

In a highball glass filled with ice, squeeze the juice of half a lime, add Don Papa Rum and top with the spicy ginger beer. Stir and add a mint leaf to garnish.

Its sweet taste and flavours of vanilla, honey, and candied fruits makes it perfect in cocktails, and it has a rich, warm finish when enjoyed as a sipping spirit.

Don Papa Rum’s limited edition ‘Cosmic' gift canister is available in Sainsbury's, RRP £32

Grander Panama Rum

Grander is that rare thing in the rum world: a spirit that is completely additive free, with absolutely no added flavourings, colourings or sugars. Until just last month this exceptional rum was only available in America, but finally it has made its way across the Atlantic.

Two ages are available – an eight-year-old and a 12-year-old. Both of these high-quality Panamanian rums have been aged in ex-boubon barrels, lending them a rich oaky taste with gentle hints of dried fruit, and of course, bourbon.

Perfectly good as a mixer to liven up your cocktail parties, but best enjoyed the way they are drunk in Panama: neat, so you can properly appreciate their smoothness and complexity.

Grander rum 8-year-old is available from Amazon for £38.95

Jamaica Cove Black Ginger

Jamaica Cove Black Ginger Rum is a new premium rum which draws its inspiration from the long history of smuggling along Cornwall’s rugged coastline. It is a blend of Jamaican Pot and Column Stills, infused with ginger, this gives the spirit a bold flavour profile. On drinking the subtle hints of lemongrass and citrus really come to the fore, resulting in a very satisfying sipping experience.

Ginger is an increasingly popular ingredient among bartenders and this single botanical infusion with an aged Jamaican rum, adds a perfect depth of flavour to classic long drinks, such as the Jamaica Mule.

Jamaica Cove Black Ginger Rum is available from Amazon for £33.66

Elements Eight Republica rum

A premium aged blend of two single rums, sourced from distilleries in Cuba and Panama, Republica is produced from traditional column stills. Producers Elements Eight promise that this rum is a break from the “orthodox” and it's easy to see why. The Cuban rum provides earthy, green, dry flavours that marry well with the rich, woody and sweeter Panama concoction.

It carries a nice spiciness to it which makes for quite a complex drinking experience and is very suitable for mixing.

Elements Eight Republica is available from Masters of Malt for £30.41

Blackwell Fine Jamaica Rum

Named after the owner of Island Records and the man who discovered Bob Marley, Blackwell Fine Jamaica Rum certainly has history on its side.

The Blackwell family recipe is an original fusion of traditional ‘heavy pot’ dark rum with a ‘lighter column’ still rum, distinctive to the family themselves and carrying quite the punch. The blend originates from a traditional recipe from the days when Chris Blackwell’s ancestors owned J. Wray & Nephew and Appleton Estate.

The full-strength blend generates a classic dark rum character that mingles with the smooth lightness and longer finish of a gold rum.

Ageing the rum in wooden casks for between 18 and 24 months results in a rum with a colourful, rich, complexion and once poured it has a deep, salubrious amber glow. Once mixed with cola the rum “reveals a lot of sweet flavours - caramel, blackstrap molasses, a little coconut, hints of vanilla”, says the Fat Rum Pirate. But this spirit would also work just as well with Ginger Beer, having, as it does, a pronounced flavour with just the right hint of funk.

Blackwell Fine Jamaica Rum in available from Amazon for £22.45

Havana Club Selección de Maestros

Having been awarded gold medals at both the Rum Masters 2013 and 2014, Havana Club’s Selección de Maestros’ packaging has recently been given a facelift to reflect the quality of the amber liquid that lies within.

Produced from the company’s best-aged stocks, this is definitely a luxury rum that deserves to be drunk neat, although naturally it will also enhance your favourite rum-based cocktail.

Slightly astringent on the nose, the rum comes into its own on the palate, with lashings of wood and sherry, a touch of cigar smoke (this is a Cuban rum after all), and gentle dashes of vanilla and caramel.

Slightly pricier than some other rums, Selección de Maestros more than warrants the extra cost. Do yourself a favour and splash out – you will not regret it.

Havana Club Selección de Maestros is available from The Whisky Exchange for £53.35

Koko Kanu

Forget Malibu, Koko Kanu is the premium coconut Jamaican white rum you’ve just not tried yet. With a subtle blend of the finest white aged Jamaican rums and a truly refreshing tropical coconut flavour, Koko Kanu whisks you away to the carribean island with every sip.

The rums, chosen for their natural coconut notes, are aged for a minimum of one year and then charcoal filtered to achieve the crystal clear colour. It’s also one of the most versatile rums on the list, perfect on its own with ice or even a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Koko Kanu is available from Amazon for £19.65

Ableforth's Rumbullion!

At the core of this fabulous rum lies the very finest high proof Caribbean spirit, which has been blended with creamy Madagascan vanilla and a generous helping of zesty orange peel.

This rum is rich, profoundly intense and very moreish. It even looks the part too, with each bottle individually wrapped by hand in crinkled brown paper, wound with twine and sealed with black wax.

Rumbullion! can be enjoyed either neat or with ice and squeeze of fresh lime.

Ableforth's Rumbullion! is available from Amazon for £33.10

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old

Perfect as a sipping rum, Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend exemplifies luxury.

On first taste, the rum offers a lot of smoky spiced oak flavour, it also has a nice note of cocoa and a little hint of vanilla towards the end. It is a smooth yet spicy offering with the satisfying kick making it the perfect ingredient for a classic Old Fashoned.

Delightful on its own, the mildly bitter/mildly sweet flavour provides a firm spicy bite which lingers in the throat.

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old is available from Amazon for £37.63

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

Iconic in Jamaica, Wray & Nephew is the perfect drink for rum connoisseurs. Known as Uncle Wray to many, it has been distilled in Jamaica for over 190 years, representing the proud nature of the island. Full of flavour, strength and character opening a bottle of Wray & Nephew comes with the familiar hefty aromas of overproof drinks.

Definitely not for sipping at 63% ABV, this rum is destined for tropical cocktails. Mojitos, Mai Tai and Tiki drinks, and Daiquiris would all be perfect destinations for this intense, fruity, ester-filled rum.

Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum is available from Amazon for £25.00


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