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This is a great rum for cocktails and casual sipping. The Demerara molasses gives a bit of extra body to a very fairly priced bottle. I’d recommend using this for a delightful winter-time Daiquiri. The 5 years spent in Bourbon barrels gives a kiss of coconut and vanilla, but doesn’t leave the rum tasting tannic or overly oaky. John Rankin
Many rum drinkers are familiar with Lemon Hart 151 - the rum that defined tiki cocktail culture from the 1930s to the 1960s - and this is the best substitute there is. Ed Hamilton introduced this Demerara Overproof rum in 2015 after the owner of Lemon Hart said that they would no longer be bottling under the brand name; it is made by Demerara Distillers in Guyana, the same distillery that makes the original Lemon Hart 151. It is a blend of rums as young as 18 months and as old as 5 years, making for a rich, robust, yet smooth rum that begs to made into a Zombie or any other high-octane concoction. Dark-fruited on the nose with aromas of burnt cane sugar, tobacco, coffee grounds, and sweet spice. The palate is incredibly balanced given its high alcohol percentage making it a seriously versatile component to any home bartender's set up. Tim Gagnon
Ed Hamilton's Jamaica Gold Rum is sourced from the Worthy Park Distillery in the parish of St. Catherine at 1,200 feet in elevation. The estate was founded in 1670 and commercial sugarcane production began in 1720, long before any other distillery on the island. All of the sugarcane is processed on the property which results in molasses that is exceptionally high in sugar content. Fermentation of the molasses take place over three weeks and distillation occurs in copper pot stills resulting in a classic "heavy" rum - the term used for the rich, molasses-based pot still rums of the former English colonies. The only additives are natural sugar-based caramel coloring and water. The nose is a bouquet of earthy, leathery tones balanced by ripe tropical fruits, starchy banana, sweet spice, and a toasted, nutty quality. On the palate it is quite rich with toasted coconut, red apple skin, bright minerality, and more earthiness. This is killer in many classic cocktails, particularly a Daiquiri, and is equally great sipped neat! Tim Gagnon
Ed Hamilton, the man behind the Ministry of Rum line of hand-selected, pot still rums from St. Lucia and Jamaica (as well as importer of the famed Lemon Hart 151, and Rhum Agricoles such as Neisson and La Favorite), is a modern day pirate of sorts. After years of living aboard his sailboat called Matahari in the Caribbean visiting distilleries and writing two books in the 1990s, he has carved out his place as one of the world's foremost experts on island sprits. My favorite of this line is the single-vintage (in this case 2006) St. Lucian 7-year. It is distilled in a classic Vendome pot still and is aged in American oak barrels before being bottled without any additives, save for water. On the nose it opens with a touch of grassy, earthy funk followed by bright citrus, banana, and sweet spice notes. The palate brings powerful notes of black pepper, more bright citrus fruit, and deeper, base-y notes of saddle leather and pipe tobacco. In short this is a serious, complex rum that begs to be sipped slowly. This would be perfect for any serious spirits geek, or even for a wine geek that already has it all! Tim Gagnon
If Neisson is Martinique’s refined, Cognac-esque rhum, then La Favorite is the wild, Bourbon-esque brother. The raw distillate comes from an ancient copper pot still—the last on the island to still use steam power (making them self-sufficient with a very low environmental impact). La Favorite’s un-aged rhums have a complex spectrum of tropical fruit flavors like green banana and lime, and after aging in Bourbon casks they gain layers of toast and vanillin with a lingering spicy finish. When The New York Times’ tasting panel reviewed Rhum Agricole, La Favorite’s Ambre took the top honors among very good competition. This is truly a world class product, and next to a lineup of industrial rums shows how vivid, complex, and delicious rum can be. John Rankin
This is really fantastic Rhum! Made in the Agricole style out of sugar cane and distilled in pot stills for increased complexity and fascinating earthy aromas. This is mostly three-old spirit that has been aged in Bourbon casks. The flavours are intense featuring dried plums and spices. JR
Neisson is one of Martinique’s most traditional distillers. The island’s unique, breezy climate and volcanic soils yield sugarcane unlike any other place. Also, on Martinique it is traditional to distill fresh raw sugar cane and not molasses (which is a byproduct of sugar production). Sugar cane rhums, or Rhum Agricole, have wild, grassy, and citrusy aromas and have a great complexity not often found in molasses-based products. Neisson ages its rums in French oak casks, unlike the Bourbon barrels used by almost everyone else, lending a flavor profile reminiscent of Cognac. Always interested in producing rhum unlike others, Niesson has started fermenting using a native yeast sourced in the cane fields instead of the industry standard commercial yeasts. I can’t recommend this enough for those who know rum well or are interested in an introduction to one of the world’s most delicious spirits. John Rankin
Rhum J.M. is probably the best known and loved spirit of Martinique. Like the island’s other rhums, it is distilled from pure sugar cane instead of processed molasses, which lends a powerful grass and mineral character to the rhum’s flavor. Just about any cocktail gains complexity by swapping out a molasses-based rhum for this funky variation. I love J.M. Blanc in a Daiquiri, done traditionally or in Hemingway’s style. John Rankin
In the not too distant past, spiced rum was a spirit to avoid at all costs. Producers took an already sweet product (rum,) added artificial vanilla and citrus flavors, cinnamon, and then even more sugar to create a beverage made to appeal to the sweet tooth of an undergraduate student. We now have choices of spiced rum that are actually delicious and actually spicy. Wigle’s entry starts with a distillate of buckwheat honey – a tribute to the local grain known for its earthy, woodsy flavor. Next, a slew of ingredients are infused into spirit. Wigle uses vanilla bean, roasted orange peel, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon for a drink that is aromatically very complex, and downright spicy. This peppery kick makes the spirit an ideal partner for ginger beer, or a feisty member of a punch bowl. John Rankin