Firstly I would like to point out that I don’t fully agree with the white, golden, dark classification generally attributed to rum, I believe colour has little or even nothing to do with the flavour profile. Practices such as filtering aged distillate, or adding caramel colouring to unaged ones render this categorisation pretty much useless.
That being said, for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to all the rums featured as “white”, even though some are unaged and some are aged or have an aged component in the blend and then have the colour removed resulting in an array of flavour profiles. Overall, unaged/filtered rums are very underrated and more often than not seen as inferior as opposed to longer aged spirits due to their colour, which is simply not true nor fair. Let’s take mezcal and scotch, one of them is (usually) unaged and the other spends at least 3 years in a oak barrel – and they can both be full of flavour, complexity and body.
Obviously there are multi-column distilled, heavily filtered rums out there that appeal more a crowd that prefers neutral, easy to mix spirits, but on the other end of the spectrum there are unaged cane distillates that are so intense in flavour that are used in perfumery or as flavouring agents. With that in mind I decided to pick 7 of my favourite rums that are great as sippers, but also stand out and compliment one of the best rum-based drinks in the world – the Daiquiri.
When I say Daiquiri, I don’t refer to the slushies serves full of fruit purees (I’m looking at you Strawberry Daiquiri), I mean the good ol’ classic Daiquiri which is comprised of 3 ingredients: lime, sugar and rum (plus dilution) – sometimes also dubbed as the Holy Trinity of tropical drinks. According to the lore the drink was made and named by an American engineer called Jennings Stockton Cox who was working the iron-ore mines of Cuba. It was in a small town called Daiquiri where he came up with the drink, hence the name.
My standard recipe for a Daiquiri is as it follows:
Fresh lime – 25ml
Sugar syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water) – 15ml
Designated rum(s) – 50ml
Shake with cubed ice, strain into a coupe and enjoy slowly or fast (drinking a Daiquiri in one go is sometimes referred to as a Snaiquiri).
Now let the Daiquiri test commence!
As far as unaged (no wood was harmed in the making of this rum), pot still, Jamaican rums go, Rum-Bar Silver is definitely one of the best value for money rums available on the market.
Made at the Worthy Park Estate, this rum packs a flavoursome punch and it can sometimes be a bit too much in a Daiquiri even at just 40% ABV. A recommendation would be to use it in combination with a lighter (maybe Puerto Rican or Cuban) component and it can make an amazingly balanced drink, although I prefer to fully enjoy its funky profile. Can also be a great substitute for Wray & Nephew for anyone that still want the flavour kick without the overproof factor.
Rum tasting notes: banana, grapefruit zest, glue, camomile tea, biscuits, pineapple and violet liqueur.
One of the first great Daiquiris I tried was made with Doorly’s 3 Year Old, just the 40% ABV one. Now, if you live in my world, you know that any ABV increase in any product that you already consider delicious is always a reason to be excited about and this white rum makes no exception.
Doorly’s 3 Year Old 47% ABV hails from the (fairly) infamous Foursquare Distillery in Barbados and is a blend of pot and column still rums that have been aged in ex-Bourbon casks for 3 whole years before being filtered in order to remove the colour (and a minimal amount of flavour). It makes a rich Daiquiri perfect for anyone that doesn’t want anything too sharp but with plenty of body. The 47% ABV definitely allows it to stand out in most of the drinks.
Rum tasting notes: coconut, vanilla custard, white pepper, passion fruit, liquorice and melon.
That Boutique-y Rum Company usually deals with limited releases of interesting rums from around the world, but they also have 2 continuous expressions, the Signature Blend #1 and #2. Since #1 is the white rum of the range it makes sense we will be talking about this one.
That Boutique-y Rum Company Signature Blend #1 (I know, long name) is a blend of rums from 2 islands, Martinique and Jamaica, bottled at 42% ABV. Martinique is well known for its agricole rhum, which, long story short, means it’s made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses which gives it a very grassy profile especially if it’s unaged like the component in this offering. The Jamaican rums in the blend are pot still distilled and also mostly unaged besides a very small fraction that has been aged for 4 years in ex-Bourbon casks. The aforementioned grassy notes shine in a Daiquiri which are then backed by very bright, tropical flavours.
Rum tasting notes: Ripe bananas, kiwi, passion fruit, white pepper, black olives and cane juice.
Lost Years is a very new rum brand that is devoted to saving the sea life, more specifically turtles – not to mention, their Navy Strength (54.5% ABV) rum is absolutely delicious. Personally, I find this the kind of distillate that, even if unaged, I’d rather sip it neat than mix it in a Daiquiri – that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work in one, on the contrary.
Lost Years Navy Strength Rum is a blend comprised of unaged column distilled rums from Jamaica and unaged full-bodied pot still rum from Barbados. There is little funk coming from the Jamaican component, instead is the Barbados juice that stands out and carries the blend making it quite similar to the Doorly’s mentioned above, but with more oomph and complexity at a higher ABV. Any Daiquiri with this sort of strength will be quite heavy, but the creaminess and lack of acidic flavours of the Lost Years blend work great in the classic.
Rum tasting notes: peach yogurt, stone fruits, Raffaello, subtle chilli, toffee, dark chocolate and single cream.
You can tell that this blend was “designed” by a bartender as it is one of the best white rums continuously available on the market and elevates a drink such as a Daiquiri to (pretty much) perfection. The said bartender is Andrew Nicholls, he has over 18 years of industry behind him and his rum honours his grandfathers, William Simmpson and George Nicholls.
William George contains unaged, pot still distillates from Jamaica, unaged multi-column distillate from Trinidad and one component aged between 2 and 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks which is also from Trinidad. It’s bottled at 43% ABV and has been filtered to get rid of any oak driven colour. The heavy-light bodied rum combo adds layers of flavour to the final product which is also showcased in any drink that has William George at its forefront – Daiquiri included!
Rum tasting notes: candied banana, crystalized ginger, nail varnish, raspberries, coriander and pink grapefruit.
Veritas, or Probitas in the U.S. (same rum) is the very first collaboration between 2 familly owned Caribbean distilleries, Foursquare Distillery (Barbados) and Hampden Estate (Jamaica). This is easily one of the best value for money white rums you’ll ever find on the market, especially with this level of complexity.
Veritas White Blended Rum, as the name suggests, is a blend of unaged pot still rum from Jamaica, unaged column still rum from Barbados and 2 year old pot still Barbados rum. This is probably the most “colourful” white rum on the list as there is no filtration used so the aged component gives the liquid a lightly golden hue while retaining all its flavours. Veritas is full bodied, especially at 47% ABV, with a decent amount of Jamaican funk making it one of the top choices for any cocktail that asks for white rum.
Rum tasting notes: citrus zest, raspberries, banana, vanilla and a touch of smokiness.
Can be found for around £34 at most online spirits retailers such as The Whisky Exchange.
Reading this, you probably noticed that all the rums mentioned above are made in the Caribbean, with 5 out of 6 containing a Jamaican component that usually carries the blend and adds fruity, intense flavours. Well this rum has a similar profile, but it doesn’t come from the Caribbean or any other tropical place – instead it was the very first rum distilled in Bristol, UK by the Circumstance Distillery.
Circumstance Distillery is a small distillery that was set up in 2018 in order to experiment with various raw materials and ageing techniques. Because they are not exclusively rum driven, their Circumstantial Cane is made in batches rather than being a continuous release, with each batch being a bit different than the last. I have tried their rums from all their batches (2 so far) and I was pleasantly surprised each time.
Circumstantial Cane is made using South American molasses which is fermented for 2-3 weeks, pot still distilled and aged for 1-2 months using charred English oak spindles. After ageing it undergoes a second distillation in order to get the clear colour. The result is an amazingly complex white rum with a creamy mouthfeel and plenty of funky notes usually found in Jamaican distillates – also it makes a Daiquiri that is out of this world, with the lime and sugar complementing the rum perfectly. The batches are bottled at 45% and respectively 44.6% ABV.
Rum tasting notes: citrus, banana, single cream, vanilla, white chocolate and cardamom.
This list is based on the UK online retailers, prices and availability may vary from country to country. I hope you found it useful, if you have any questions or even recommendations regarding other worthy white rums feel free to contact me.
As a note I didn’t dive into sugar cane juice distillates such as rhum agricoles or Clairins (besides the component in TBRC Signature Blend #1) as there are so many and they probably require their own list.