About Jamaican Spirits

There are some very good lighter rums from Jamaica today, but it’s the dark heavy, potstill versions that get all the attention, those aged in whiskey or sherry barrels for anywhere from 10 to 21 years. Copper or golden colored with appealing flavors such as banana, roasted coconut and praline, these are smashing examples of rums with complexity and intensity as well as finesse and elegance. These are meant for sipping or for artisan cocktails. Inexpensive rums, such as spiced versions, are fine for use in most summer cocktails.
Top Picks for Jamaica
211056
Denizen
Merchant's Reserve 8 Year Old Rum
Bright golden amber color. Rich, complex, attractive aromas of bananas foster, white toffee, cedar spice and cigar boxes, and dried fruits with a glycerous, vibrant, fruity medium body and a tingling, layered, long cedar bark and moss, copper ore, smoked nuts, and pepper finish. A very dry, serious and elegant aged rum for the connoisseur; will be fantastic with cigars or in tiki cocktails.
97 points $29.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
219014
APPLETON ESTATE
21 Year Old Rum
Dark amber color. Sweet, candied, complex aromas and flavors of vanilla creme Anglaise, caramel pudding, dates, and dried pineapple with a tannic, vibrant, dryish medium-full body and a warming, complex, long tropical trail mix, candied orange peel, orange blossom water, and leather finish. An intriguing and satisfying sipping rum.
95 points $134.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
219017
APPLETON ESTATE
JOY Anniversary Blend Rum
Medium dark amber color. Fruity, candied aromas and flavors of dried mango, grilled peach, Italian leather, and caramel gelato with an dryish full body and a peppery, epic, endless rose petals, milk chocolate, chipotle peppers, and mole finish. A flavor journey to write home about.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
219011
APPLETON ESTATE
Reserve Blend Rum
Copper color. Funky, hot aromas of pollo lollipop, dried mango, wet cedar, and Iberico Jamon with a lightly tannic, bright, dry medium body and a peppery, medium-length burnt sugar, dried mango with salt and chile, raisin cake, and honeycomb cereal finish. A slightly savory rum for punches.
92 points $26.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
214936
J. Wray
Gold Rum
Brilliant gold color. Delicate, boozy, curious fruity floral aromas and flavors of banana cream pie, nougat, delicate brown spices, and dried tropical fruits with a velvety, soft, fruity medium body and a warming, refreshing, medium-length toasty praline and caramel, vanilla cream, wet stone, and cedar finish. An elegant and rich gold rum that sets a benchmark for the category.
92 points $20 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
211075
Blackwell
Fine Jamaican Rum
Medium dark amber color. Bright, creamy, buttery baked aromas of chocolate covered pineapple and cherry, white toffee, coconut macaroon, and brown spices with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, complex, medium-long banana custard, roasted nuts, polished wood, and green tobacco leaf finish. A well aged dark rum with lots of flavor and sippable mellowness.
91 points $24.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
219013
APPLETON ESTATE
Rare Blend 12 Year Old Rum
Medium copper color. Interesting aromas of raw cane, chocolate covered cherries, smoky roasted chestnut, and chamomile with a lightly tannic, crisp, dryish medium-to-full body and a peppery, massive, medium-long sliced ripe bananas with caramel sauce and peanut, crystallized geranium, black tea, and menthol finish. A sophisticated, mature rum with plenty of refined character.
90 points $37.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
214883
Mezan
Rum Jamaica 2000
Bright light gold color. Delicate, hot, floral aromas and flavors of orange spice cake, nougat, and vanilla-honey gelato with an even, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a warming, delightful, medium-length sweet spices, dried fruits, cedar, and minerals finish. A vibrant aged rum with a nice range of cane pot still notes that will be great in tiki cocktails.
90 points $59.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210851
Mezan
XO Rum
Pale golden straw color. Lively, attractive, spicy aromas of grilled banana, roasted nuts and coconuts, rubber sap, and copper with a soft, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, engaging, medium-length minerals, delicate spice, and cream finish. A flavorful and attractive potstill gold rum that will add a lot of dimension to cocktails.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210166
Coruba
Dark Rum
Bronze color. Lively, earthy, funky aromas of rubber sap, fresh molasses, lacquered wood, and copper with a satiny, soft, dryish medium-full body and a tingling, medium-long chocolate licorice, plantain, Coleman’s fuel, and minerals finish. A very dry and serious dark rum with a heart of molasses.
90 points $25.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab