Dry January is gone (for some) so many of you might be tempted to treat yourselves with a new bottle of rum – yes, you always need more rum! So following the format of previous budget rums list I decided to write an updated and well needed part II.
Below you might find familiar brands, but also some newcomers that are worth exploring while not breaking the bank. Giving how diverse the cane spirit can be, the list includes offerings from various categories and countries, from aged to never-touched-wood, from 40% ABV to overproof and so on, all ideal for all kinds of cocktails or just to enjoy neat.
Of course here are all my own opinions and tasting notes and not the absolute truth (although close enough) so dive in with an open mind.
That being said, these are my top 10 value for money (not spiced) rums under £40.
10. Mob33 Gold Heist Rum – £25
Here is one of the newcomers I was talking about. Mob33 was launched by Legacy Brands at the beginning of 2021 and its branding plays on the Prohibition theme with the “mob” (gangsters) being mainly responsible for selling alcohol on the black market during that time and the “33” being a nod to 1933, the year when the Prohibition was repelled.
Their Gold Heist Rum is a blend of rums sourced from the Caribbean and Latin America: Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Barbados. The components are both molasses and cane juice (Dominican Republic) based, distilled in a combination of pot stills, column stills and multi-column stills and aged up to 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks. The result is a rum on the lighter side, but also with plenty of body to stand on its own, quite similar to a well aged Cuban rum. It’s bottled at 40% ABV without any chill filtering and can be found at only £25 (House of Malt, The Whisky Exchange), which is more than good value considering its versatility – I also enjoy its golden look, don’t judge me!
Tasting notes: Peach, pears, bananas, light tobacco, charred oak, chocolate and nutmeg. Finish is medium with ground coffee and some vanilla.
Mob33 Gold Heist Rum – 50ml
Lime Juice – 25ml
Simple Syrup (2:1) – 15ml
Mint Leaves – 6-8
Sparkling Wine – 75ml/top
Shake everything except the wine and strain in a coupe. Top with the sparkling wine (or champagne if you’re feeling fancy) and garnish with a mint leaf.
9. El Dorado 8 Year Old – £31
If you ever set your eyes on a bottle of rum, it’s very likely you have heard of the El Dorado name. Their 12 and 15 year old offerings are usually in the spotlight, but I do think this one, while younger, deserves more recognition, especially for what it delivers at the £31 (Master of Malt) price point.
El Dorado is made in Guyana, at Diamond Distillery, a facility that is revered for its unique distilling equipment. They have the only functioning stills in the world that are made out of greenheart wood which impart specific tasting notes to their distillates, often described as floral, oily and earthy. El Dorado 8 Year Old is made out of molasses and is distilled using an array of column stills, including a wooden one, before being aged for at least 8 years using ex-Bourbon barrels. The profile of the rum can be described as dark and rich, but not too overpowering. Bottled at 40% ABV, this is definitely a bartender’s favourite – I can confirm!
Tasting notes: Liquorice, caramel, cappuccino, pencil shavings and ripe bananas. Finish is medium with raisins and dark chocolate.
Rum & Raisins Old Fashioned
El Dorado 8 Year Old – 50ml
Pedro Ximenez Sherry – 15ml
Brown/Demerara Sugar Syrup (2:1) – 5ml
Angostura Bitters – 2 dashes
Ground Cinnamon – 1/2 barspoon
Stir down the ingredients with cubed ice and serve in a tumbler over cubed ice. Garnish with an orange peel or maraschino cherry. I stole this recipe from one of the bars I used to work at and I absolutely love it.
8. J. Wray & Nephew Overproof – £25.50
Some of you might’ve seen this coming, but Wray is definitely a staple rum and a very affordable one at, that making it more than worthy of this list. While its smell might trigger some questionable memories for some, J. Wray & Nephew is definitely a brand that stood the test of time from the 1940s to the present and is constantly used in various cocktails, being quite prevalent in some Tiki recipes out there.
J. Wray & Nephew Overproof is owned by the Campari Group and is made at the New Yarmouth Distillery in Jamaica where it accounts for more than 3 quarters of the domestic rum sales. It is molasses based, distilled in a combination of pot and column stills and bottled at a not-so-modest 63% ABV. It’s not just its strength that makes this a great value bottling, it also packs some flavour intensity, often described as “Jamaican funk”. You can buy this beast for only £25.50 (Amazon) and it’s also widely available in most supermarkets and off licenses – can’t really miss that bright yellow and green label!
Tasting notes: Overripe bananas, acetone, pears, coconut, vegetal notes and molasses. Finish is medium to long with brown sugar and fresh pineapple.
J. Wray & Ting
J. Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum – 50ml
Lime Juice – 15ml
Ting/Grapefruit Soda – top
Add the rum and lime to a highball (or a branded cup if you’re Instagraming), fill with cubed ice, top with Ting/Grapefruit Soda and garnish with a lime wedge (and some mint if you have too much). This is an island favourite!
7. Doorly’s XO – £37
Foursquare Distillery, a name that resounds in most online rum forums as everyone is looking to grab a piece every time one of their limited bottlings hits the shelves. All the craze that this distillery has stirred over the last few years is quite impressive, but it arguably detracts from their continuous releases, such as the Doorly’s range, which are also great, with most of them being easily accessible.
Doorly’s XO is made at the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, is molasses based and distilled in both pot and column stills. It’s aged for at least 6 years in ex-Bourbon casks and finished in former Oloroso Sherry barrels making this a well matured rum that has a good balance between woody and fruity flavours . Bottled at 43% ABV and priced at £37 (Master of Malt, House of Malt), this is one for pretty much any occasion – sharing it with friends is highly recommended!
Tasting notes: Raisins, sweet cherries, plums, vanilla, cacao and ginger. Finish is medium to long with dark chocolate and red fruits.
Gayle Seale Daiquiri
Doorly’s XO – 50ml
Lime Juice – 25ml
John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum – 15ml
Sugar Syrup – 10ml
Angostura Bitters – 2 dashes
Shake all the ingredients and strain into a coupe. The drink was created by the Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell and was named after Gayle Seale, the Global Brand Ambassador for Foursquare.
6. Rhum Bologne Blanc 50 – £34 (1L)
Can’t make a rum list with diverse styles without including at least one from the agricole category. Rhum agricole is rum from the French Caribbean and Madeira that has been made using unprocessed cane juice as the raw material while adhering to specific regulations. Although Martinique is the most well-known agricole producer, other islands such as Guadeloupe shouldn’t be disconsidered as they all have to follow certain standards in order to be qualified as “agricole”.
Rhum Bologne is an agricole rhum from Guadeloupe made at Destillerie Bologne, situated in the capital city of the island, Basse-Terre, which features green, vulcanic hills on which the sugar cane is grown. The facility distills up to 55-60% ABV meaning it retains more character from the base material rather than if it was distilled at a higher strength. Rhum Bologne Blanc 50 is cane juice based, column still distilled and rested in large wooden vats for up to 6 months. As the name suggests, the rum is bottled at 50% ABV and can be found at £34 (Amazon) for a full litre – now that’s dangerous!
Tasting notes: sugar cane, olive brine, vanilla, coconut, freshly cut grass, cardamom and fresh lime. The finish is medium to long with white pepper and a touch of salt.
Rhum Bologne Blanc 50 – 50ml
Lime Juice – 25ml
Re’Al Strawberry Puree Infused Syrup – 25ml
Shake all the ingredients and strain into a coupe. Obviously a classic Daiquiri or a Ti Punch would work as good, I just decided to make it a bit more boujee.
5. Lost Years Navy Strength – £35.50
Did you know that after hatching, sea turtles disappear in water for up to 10 years? These “lost years” of a sea turtle is where this rum has inspired its branding from. Lost Years is an English brand that has been established at the end of 2020. They source rums from the Caribbean and Latin America for their range and they donate some of the profit from each bottle sold towards saving endangered sea turtles.
Lost Years Navy Strength is molasses based, sourced from Jamaica and Barbados with the Jamaican component being unaged column still distillate and the Barbadian one being heavy (flavoursome) unaged pot still distillate. This mixture makes a delicious and complex blend without being too sharp or punchy, despite its 54.5% navy strength ABV. Priced at £35.50 (The Whisky Exchange), you’re definitely getting a rum, that despite being unaged, outperforms many aged offerings in the same price bracket – and on top of that it’s good for the baby turtles, come on!
Tasting notes: stone fruits, cappuccino, Raffaello, toffee and grapefruit. Finish is long with coconut and white pepper.
White Rum Sazerac
Lost Years Navy Strength – 50ml
Peychaud’s Bitters – 3 dashes
Simple Syrup (2:1)/Vanilla Syrup – 5ml
Absinthe – 5ml
Stir down all the ingredients except the absinthe with cubed ice. Use the absinthe to wash the inside of a tumbler/brandy balloon and discard the excess. Serve the stirred drink into the glass, express the oils of the lemon zest over it and discard. A really nice take on a classic and I just love how pink it is due to the bitters.
4. Duppy White – £20
You might’ve heard about the Duppy Share before, they have been really good at… well, being everywhere in the UK, which isn’t a bad thing considering their offerings so far are more than decent. They are an English brand who are currently sourcing rums from Barbados & Jamaica and based their name on the African word “duppy” which means ghost or spirit. According to the Caribbean lore, the duppy are malevolent and are said to be stealing the rum from the barrels while it’s ageing… think angels’ share, but evil.
The Duppy White is a collaboration with the British actor and musician Kano and it takes it’s inspiration from the artists’ Jamaican roots, the rum itself hailing from Jamaica. It’s molasses based, a blend of pot and column stills distillates and it comes bottled at 40% ABV. The reason this rum is on the list is that, despite being only £20 (Master of Malt) it does pack a good amount of flavour and body backed by quite a bit of Jamaican funk making it perfect for a Daiquiri – or maybe six!?
Tasting notes: Strawberries, bananas, ginger, pears and anise. Finish is medium with tropical fruits salad.
Duppy White – 40ml
Green Chartreuse – 20ml
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur – 20ml
Lime Juice – 20ml
Shake all the ingredients and strain into a coupe. This is a Last Word twist that usually uses overproof rum, hence the higher quantity of Duppy White.
That Boutique-y Rum Company is an independent bottler owned by Atom Brands (the guys behind Master of Malt) that deals mostly with limited edition bottlings sourced from all over the world, from the Caribbean and Latin America to Asia and even UK. Their informative and colourful labels will easily stand out on any shelf. While most of their offerings are quite deluxe, they also have two constant continuous releases dubbed as Signature Blend #1 and Signature Blend #2, with the #2 being my choice for this list.
TBRC Signature Blend #2 is a blend of rums from Guyana (Diamond Distillery) and Jamaica, all molasses based, distilled in a collection of pot and column stills, both metal and wooden (see #9 El Dorado 8 Year Old) and aged up to 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks. The resulting profile is mostly driven by the dark and oily Guyanese component with the Jamaican one bringing some brighter fruity notes to the mix. Only £30 (Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange) for this 42% ABV rum packed with layers of chocolate, fruit and spice – I’ll sip this neat more often than not!
Tasting notes: Liquorice, ripe bananas, black tea, chocolate, sultanas, cloves and tobacco. Finish is medium to long with Demerara sugar, walnuts and caramel.
That Boutique-y Rum Company Signature Blend #2 – 50ml
Lime Juice – 25ml
Brown/Demerara Sugar Syrup (2:1) – 15ml
Angostura Bitters – 3 dashes
Shake all the ingredients, strain into a tumbler filled with cubed ice and garnish with a lime wedge and mint. I really need to drink more of these!
2. Worthy Park 109 – £36 (1L)
Worthy Park is a well-regarded distillery from Jamaica and you can’t really go wrong with any of their bottlings, limited or continuous. That being said I chose their Worthy Park 109 bottling due to its flexible profile and insane value.
Worthy Park 109 could be described as a navy style as it uses a hefty amount of caramel to colour and change the flavour profile to darker and more bitter which is reminiscent to most navy rums on the market, although they are usually sourced from Guyana rather than Jamaica. It uses molasses as its raw material, it was distilled using a pot still and was aged up to 3 years in ex-Bourbon casks before being flavoured with caramel and bottled at 54.4% ABV, the historical navy strength. The high alcohol content and its potential to be used in both cocktail recipes that ask for Jamaican rums and navy style ones make this a must have… not to mention the £36 (House of Malt) price is for a 1 litre bottle – definitely worthy!
Tasting notes: dark chocolate, black tea, ripe bananas, molasses, nutmeg and charred oak. Finish is medium to long with ground coffee and salted caramel.
Worthy Park 109 – 50ml
Pineapple Juice – 50ml
Orange Juice – 25ml
Coconut Cream – 25ml
Shake all the ingredients and serve in a tumbler over cubed ice. Garnish with nutmeg and maybe some pineapple. This is a cocktail trademarked by Pusser’s so… please don’t sue me!
1. Chairman’s Reserve Legacy – £32
Saint Lucia Distillers from, well, the island of Saint Lucia is probably one of the most underrated rum distilleries, at least outside specialised rum forums. They have a collection of three pot stills & one column still, various barrels and make use of both molasses and cane juice in order to create a quite a few different blends for brands such as Bounty Rum, Admiral Rodney and their flagship, Chairman’s Reserve. All of these are possible today thanks to Laurie Barnard, who launched the Chairman’s brand in 1999.
To celebrate Laurie Barnard, Saint Lucia Distillers added the Chairman’s Reserve Legacy to their range at the end of 2020, an addition that has been praised by the rum community. Chairman’s Reserve Legacy is both molasses & cane juice based (only 5%), has been made using their pot stills and column still and was aged from 5 to 7 years in ex-Bourbon barrels. The complexity of the final rum would require multiple visits in order to enjoy it at its fullest as it keeps evolving with each sip, despite its fairly low 43% ABV. The fact that this can be purchased for just £32 (Master of Malt) is simply unreal – you should definitely rush to buy a bottle before they realise they should charge more!
Tasting notes: rich tobacco, nutmeg, old leather, vanilla, raisins, cinnamon, peppermint and marmalade. Finish is long with cacao nibs, ginger and salted caramel.
Chairman’s Reserve Legacy – 50ml
Sweet Vermouth – 20ml
Campari – 20ml
Chocolate Bitters – 2-3 dashes
Stir down the ingredients with cubed ice and serve in a tumbler over cubed ice. Garnish with an orange wedge or twist. Or just do what I do and drink it neat!
That’s all folks! For more cocktail inspiration feel free to check my The Cocktail Barrel section.
Please keep in mind that this list is based on the UK’s market and online retailers and it might not reflect the same value in other countries. If you have any questions, or maybe suggestions regarding other lists you’d like to see, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply use the contact option.
Thank you for reading through and I hope this helped!
This is an independent list, all the images have been taken and edited by myself and none of the brands sponsored me. That being said there are some affiliate links present in the article from which I can get a small percentage of any purchase made through them.