Aged Rum

Best Aged Rum


Rum is the second largest selling spirit category in the U.S. with 25.6 million cases sold in 2015, but most people have the impression that rum should only be used in cocktails. Aged rum offers a full spectrum of flavors ranging from butterscotch and cinnamon to tropical fruits and tobacco— best enjoyed straight or on the rocks for casual sipping.

Rum is a sugar cane distilled spirit that is directly influenced by terroir, tradition and technique. Most rums are bottled directly from the still, but some are aged in charred oak barrels. Typically, these barrels were previously used to age bourbon (from the U.S.) or scotch, cognac and sherry (from Europe).

In some cases, the rum is allowed to blend and mature in another barrel for a second maturation. This rum is designated as “single barrel”. Occasionally distillers will top off their barrels with rums of the same age. Or in the case of a “solera”, with rums that is one year younger. Bottling occurs straight from the barrel. In the U.S., the age is determined by the youngest spirit in the bottle, and must be indicated by an age statement.

The distillation process, the barrels, and warm climates produce rums that are darker color and richer in flavor, mellower and more aromatic than clear rums.

The spirit of choice by pirates and princes, rum has earned its place in history:
In 1493, Columbus brought sugar cane to Hispaniola.
140 years later, in 1636 - Sugar became the chief crop of Barbados and of all the Caribbean islands.
Soon after, in 1687 - Rum is officially adopted as the daily ration for the Royal Navy.
50 years later (1740) - The Royal Navy’s dilutes rum rations with water, calling it “grog”.
At that time, Massachusetts had 63 distilleries that produced rum made from molasses. (Another reason why the British colonies in New England were very important to Britain.)

After the American Revolution, the British enforced a naval blockade to the Caribbean, restricting access to sugar plantations in the West Indies. So what did the American colonists do? They used their chief crop corn to make bourbon, marking the beginning of bourbon's popularity and the decline of distilleries in the Northeast.

Flash forward to 1980– when rum outsold vodka in the United States and outsold whiskey for the first time since the early nineteenth century.


The Fifty Best Aged Rum Tasting 2016

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 16 aged rums with a panel of 17 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The rums were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Each of the rums were judged and scored separately. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no bronze medals awarded for this tasting. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The countries of origin are identified for each brand.


23 yr Solera

(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, sugar cane, molasses, honey, vanilla, cream, apple, blueberry, orange, banana, pineapple, chestnut, cinnamon, clove, spicy, fresh-cut grass, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, oaky, earthy.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, raw sugar, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, chocolate, corn, cola, sherry, cherry, citrus-forward, orange blossom water, lemon, dried fruit, brown rice, eucalyptus, yum, mouth-watering, a Dominican beauty.
Finish: Burnt sugar, vanilla, clean fruit, dried fruit, allspice, cinnamon, clove, spicy, coffee, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

   Ophyum 23 yr Solera Rum

Oporto Finish 25 yr Solera

(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, brown sugar, sugar cane, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, cream, fruit, dried fruit, cola, sweet sherry, nutty, clove, cinnamon, tobacco leaves, toast, oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, molasses, dark sugar, sugarcane, maple, vanilla, creamy, custard pudding, world’s finest rich fruitcake, raisins, dried fruit, sherry, nutty, filberts, allspice, matcha tea, concentrated toast, spearmint, wet rocks, wood, oak, smoky, rich, classic.
Finish: Toffee, vanilla, baking spices, bread, oak, soft wood barrel, smooth, great, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Opthimus Oporto Finish 25 yr Solera Rum

1985 Solera

(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Caramel, molasses, sugar cane, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut, raisins, almonds, walnut, nutty, cocoa, coffee.
Palate: Toffee, nougat, brown sugar, molasses, burnt sugar, sugar cane, honey, vanilla, creamy, butter, chocolate, cocoa, cola, cherry, raisins, dried fruit, mildly floral, clove, oak, a Dominican rum that drinks Trinidadian, rich, the right balance, classic.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, molasses, demerara sugar, vanilla, very smooth, rich, flavorful, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Exquisito 1985 Solera Rum

Grand Reserve


Nose: Caramel, cream, molasses, cane sugar, vanilla, buttered popcorn, cherry candy, tropical fruit, banana, cantaloupe, melon, apricot, lemon, raisin, Thai red tea, mint, clove.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, creamy, dark chocolate, hard candy, honey, molasses, brown sugar, sugar syrup, vanilla, prunes, citrus, orange liqueur, ginger, floral, eucalyptus, almond, hazelnut.
Finish: Butterscotch, dark toffee, chocolate, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, orange, light peppermint, stone fruit, cherry, nice balance.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Rumson's Grand Reserve Rum

(South Carolina)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, rum toffee, demerara, dark sugar, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, vanilla, roasted coconut, dried fruit, toasted nuts, leather, bacon, oak, woodsy, burnt toast, smoky, earthy.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, dark sugar, sugarcane, molasses, caramelized apple, tropical fruits, vanilla, chocolate, toast, tea, slightly grassy, green leaves, dried leaves, nutty, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, spicy, pepper, sherry, leather, tobacco, mahogany, pine, smoky, earthy, pleasingly dry.
Finish: Toffee, honey, cherry, raisins, buttery, floral, nutty, allspice, nutmeg, tobacco, leathery, smooth, musty, spicy, nice wood, dry, complex, flavorful.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Santeria Rum


The Real McCoy 12 yr

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut, banana, lychee, tart cherry, lemon, fruity, rose petals, grassy, green leaves, walnut, nutmeg, pepper, sweet spice, oak, pine, brightness.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, sweet molasses, sugar, honey, light sugar cane, vanilla, cherry, sweet potato, eucalyptus, cinnamon, thyme, nutmeg, spicy, tea leaves, dry sherry, leather, wood, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, demerara sugar, vanilla, candied lemon, apple, nutty, coffee, sherry, licorice, spicy, honey-like softness, oaky, semi-dry, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

The Real McCoy 12 yr Rum

1824 12 yr

(Trinidad & Tobago)

Nose: Caramel, molasses, maple syrup, brown butter, chocolate, vanilla, orange, citrus, fig, blossom, floral, jasmine, lavender, dry green leaves, wheat, oak.
Palate: Butterscotch, toffee, white toffee, caramel, treacle, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, creamy, butter, vanilla, raisin, apple, apricot, orange, guava, mango, tropical fruit, ginger, perfume, clove, pepper, hot pepper, spicy, cereal, hazelnut, coffee, tobacco, oak, dry.
Finish: Toffee, butterscotch, buttery, sweet marzipan, pineapple, figs, dried fruit, nutty, licorice, grassy, mint, basil, vegetal, slight tobacco, clean, soft.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Angostura 1824 12 yr Rum

The Real McCoy 5 yr

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, buttery, creamy, Drake’s coffee cake, honey, molasses, vanilla, cherry, apple, ripe banana, dried fruit, grass, spice, nutmeg, wood barrel, smoky.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, maple syrup, molasses, sugarcane, honey, vanilla, sweet cream, baked apple, coconut, orange, lemon, banana, raisins, dried dates, bananas Foster, marzipan, elderflower, white flower, grass, eucalyptus, tea, hazelnut, cinnamon, leather, oak, pine, tobacco, sherry.
Finish: Vanilla, sugar cane, slightly tart cherry, citrus, dried fruit, floral, mint, hazelnut, walnut, spices, peppery, earthy, leather, wood, smooth, soft.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

The Real McCoy 5 yr Rum

Full Moon Dark Rum


Nose: Toffee, muscovado sugar, sugarcane, blackstrap molasses, treacle, vanilla, marmalade, peach, citrus, eucalyptus, grassy, allspice, sherry, leather, sweet tobacco, wheat, woody, pine, oak, American oak, complex mix of old oak, earthy.
Palate: Butterscotch, toffee, caramel, treacle, vanilla, summer fruit, apricot, prune, mango, banana, dried fruit, dried herbs, mint, hay, allspice, clove, mixed spices, spicy, grassy, coffee, leather, burnt toast, wood, oak, charred oak.
Finish: Honey, treacle, vanilla, candied and dried fruit, melon, pineapple, sherry, leathery, nutmeg, tobacco, woody, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Rougaroux Full Moon Dark Rum

Ron Veleiro Añejo
(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Caramel, sugar cane, brown sugar, vanilla, lemon, papaya, coconut, corn, malty, spice, grass, earthy, oak.
Palate: Caramel, molasses, honeycomb, vanilla, pineapple, coconut, lime, dried fruit, cola, sweetened grain, meringue, cinnamon, oak.
Finish: Molasses, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, light wood, clean, very soft, smooth, gentle, very fine, rich, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

 Ron Veleiro Añejo

Rumson's Rum

Nose: Butterscotch, treacle, molasses, sweet candy, chocolate, vanilla, banana, pineapple, apricot, coconut, apple, green apple, citrus, floral, grass, leather, toast, pine, smoke.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, demerara, burnt sugar, honey, vanilla, sweet candy, bright candied fruits, raisin, banana, pineapple, grapefruit, green apple, coconut, elderflower, almond, tea leaves, licorice, wintergreen, lemongrass, grass, leather, pine.
Finish: Honey, cream, orange, citrus, peach, strawberry, fruity, cola, coffee, hazelnut, spicy, leather, woody, piney, smoky, smooth, bright.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Rumson's Rum

Brugal Añejo
(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, powdered sugar, cane sugar, honey, vanilla, chocolate, dried fruits, marzipan, blossom, light roasted nuts, nutmeg, spicy, leather, oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, molasses, chocolate, buttery, honey, vanilla, banana, mango, raisin, rose, tea, mint, grassy, eucalyptus, peppermint, peppery, nutmeg, cinnamon, tobacco, leather, cedar, oak, smooth.
Finish: Butterscotch, toffee, honey, vanilla, berries, raisins, green apple brightness, grassy, anise, clove, allspice, peppery, light leather, tobacco, smoky, nice, smooth, mellow, flavorful.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Brugal Añejo Rum


3 Mile Barrel Aged

Nose: Vanilla, clotted cream, light molasses, tropical fruit, banana, pear, citrus, baked apple, apple skin, dried fruit, herbal, light hay, sweet tea with lemon sugar, toast, wheat, wet wood, piney.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, fudge, treacle, honey-like, vanilla, crème brulee, banana, lemon peel, papaya, raisin, roasted almond. herbal, peppermint, mint, anise, licorice, clove, cinnamon, sharp nutmeg, white pepper, coffee, manzanilla sherry, leather, wheat, hay, wood, pine, dusty oak.
Finish: Honey, dried fruit, sweet marzipan, fruity, citrus, floral, tarragon, clove, peppery, spice, dry sherry, coffee, leather, pine, oak, woody.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

3 Mile Barrel Aged Rum

Twenty Boat
Cape Cod Amber


Nose: Caramel, demerara, sugar cane, green apple, pineapple, orange, citrus, herbal, tea, grass, hay, cinnamon, peppery, coffee, dry cereal grains, toasted wheat, toasted bread, tobacco leaf, earthy, leather, cured meat, bacon, Polish ham, smoky.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, toffee, chocolate, molasses, light brown sugar, sugar cane, vanilla, orange, bright citrus, green apple, papaya, guava, cantaloupe, tropical fruit, honeysuckle, sherry, rose, nutty, cinnamon, spicy, peppery, tobacco, sweet cigar, pine, briny, well blended.
Finish: Brown sugar, honey, vanilla, fruity, sherry, citrus, floral, mint, pepper, coffee grains, nutty, oak, wood, minerals, complex, bright, full-flavored.

Silver Medal
   Silver medal

Twenty Boat Cape Cod Amber Rum

1888 Gran Reserva Familiar

(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Caramel, treacle, cane sugar, light molasses, honey, cream, vanilla, apple, banana, coconut, dried fruit, red wine, green grass, leafy, oak, wood.
Palate: Fudge, caramel, molasses, honey, apple, apricot, bright citrus, orange, orange peel, lemon zest, pineapple, coconut, prune, raisin, dates, figs, dried fruit, sherry, herbal, mint, spice, nutmeg, clove, oak, crisp, balanced.
Finish: Maple, rye, coffee, leather, light spice, licorice, clove, grassy, pine, oak-like, smoky, smooth, pleasant, well-balanced.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva Familiar Rum

Extra Dry – Triple Filtered

(Dominican Republic)

Nose: Vanilla, buttery, marzipan, cane sugar, hint of sugar, apple, apple skin, banana, citrus, blossom, herb, juniper, grass, hay, clean.
Palate: Toffee, treacle, caramel, vanilla, molasses, cane sugar, apple, green apple, white grape, coconut, dried papaya, floral, herbal, mint, hay, nutty, nutmeg, spicy, peppery, clean, dry.
Finish: Vanilla, sweet cream, creamy, sweet and sour, biscuit, floral, mint, minerals, nutty, woody, smoky, off dry.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Brugal Extra Dry Triple Filtered Rum




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Fifty Best > Spirits > Aged Rum
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