Top 10 award-winning rumsBy Nicola Carruthers
The rum category has welcomed an abundance of new entrants in recent years as distillers experiment with flavours and botanicals. We present the products that stormed to success in our latest blind tasting.
Every year, The Spirits Business hosts its Rum Masters competition, which seeks to award the highest-quality bottlings in the category.
The Rum Masters 2021 was held virtually for the first time due to lockdown restrictions in the UK, with bottles shipped to the judges’ homes anonymously by Wine Sorted.
The competition was judged by Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business and Tobias Gorn, spirits specialist, consultant and writer, over Zoom last month.
From spiced to flavoured, agricole to overproof, the competition saw 13 products secure the highest award of a Master medal.
To see 10 products that scored the most points with our expert panel, click through to the following page.
Havana Club Professional Edition C
Price: £32.95 (US$46)
In the Gold Rum – Super Premium flight, a Master was given to Havana Club Professional Edition C.
The judges enjoyed the higher‐ABV, which created a “big and complex” rum, with “sweetness, dryness, a hint of baking spices and woodiness”.
The Havana Club Professional Edition range was developed with bartenders in mind.
Edition C, which was added to the range in 2019, is made from young aguardiente blended with older rum bases that have aged in San José distillery’s warehouses. It has been matured for up to 12 years in large white oak barrels, which are up to 40-years-old.
Saint James VSOP
Price: €35 (US$43)
In the Agricole Aged Rum flight, Saint James VSOP stormed to success, winning a Master medal. This rum was found to be “bold, but elegant, with some sweet almond notes and seriously aged elements”.
Saint James VSOP (43% ABV_ has been aged for more than four years in American ex-Bourbon oak barrels and new American oak barrels.
The new flagship expression is the first of three premium rums that will launch as part of the Saint James brand: VO, VSOP and XO.
Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
Price: £150 (US$208)
Campari Group grabbed a number of medals during the competition, including a a Master for Appleton Estate 21 Years Old in the Gold Rum Aged Over 13 Years flight.
One judge said about this rum: “This was pronounced and big, with a wood spice lead. It is savoury and dry with a lifting alcohol, and long spicy finish with cocoa and coffee. This is the sort of rum I like to drink, it’s clever and exciting.”
Last year, Appleton Estate rolled out a new bottle design across its range.
Price: £60 (US$83)
The “incredibly complex” Angostura 1787 secured a Master in the Dark Rum – Ultra Premium heat. The rum had “long aged elements, lots of tropical fruit and melon”.
One member of the panel said: “This is some good stuff, very delicious. This I could put next to a top Cognac or top whisky, and the complexity would match up. A good example of a very well made rum.”
Bottled at 40% ABV, the rum is aged for 15 years.
Havana Club Maximo Extra Añejo
Price: £1,235 (US$1,715)
Havana Club Maximo Extra Añejo grabbed a Master in the Gold Rum – Ultra Premium round. It was described as “beautifully complex like a long aged brandy or Cognac”, with notes of “mahogany, polished leather, dry with wood spices”.
“This shows that aged properly, rum can be kick‐ass,” added one judge. “Rum can be as good as whisky or Cognac and other aged brown spirits; it’s fabulous.”
After a retaste of all the Master medallists at the end of the competition, Havana Club Maximo Extra Añejo was given the top title of Taste Master.
Rum-Bar Gold Rum
Price: £24 (US$33)
Rum‐Bar Gold Rum was the only Master medallist in the Gold Rum Aged up to 7 Years flight.
The rum was “fruity with lots of tropical notes, dried mango and apricot” and showcased “good complexity and depth of flavour”.
Produced by Jamaica’s Worthy Park Estate, the expression was aged in refill Jack Daniel’s barrels for at least four years.
Lost Years Navy Strength
Price: £33.95 (US$47)
The White Overproof round bestowed a Master accolade on Lost Years Navy Strength. The rum was said to have an “amazing mouthfeel” with notes of “baked apples and pastry”, and the alcohol was “well integrated”.
Bottled at 54.5% ABV, the pure, unaged blend of traditional Coffey column still rum from Jamaica was blended with a high-ester pot still rum from an unnamed distillery in Barbados.
Jamaica Cove Pineapple Rum
Price: £25 (US$35)
A large flight of Flavoured rum saw one brand grab a Master medal: Jamaica Cove Pineapple Rum. This was found to have a “lovely texture”, with “juicy pineapple on the nose”. The palate had a “hint of spice”, creating a “brilliant pineapple rum”.
Bottled at 40% ABV, the expression is an aged Jamaican pot and column still rum infused with pineapple.
Trash and Treasure Spiced Botanical Rum
Price: £32 (US$44)
One of only two Master medallists in the huge Spiced flight was the “dry, exciting and different” Trash and Treasure Spiced Botanical Rum.
Tasting notes included “wood, sandalwood and spice notes”, along with a little “chilli and bitter orange” on the palate.
The expression marks English producer Warner’s debut in the rum category. It is made with white Jamaican rum, botanicals, weeds and discarded peels.
Arhumatik Passion – Isautier
Price: £28 (US$39)
Master medallist Arhumatik Passion – Isautier was the only Master medallist in the Rum Liqueurs flight. The 24% ABV passionfruit-flavoured liqueur was said to be “tart, vibrant, delicious” while “balancing the sweetness beautifully”.
In 2020, Isautier launched the Arhumatik collection of premium rum liqueurs made with 100% natural fruit ingredients. The range also includes a coconut bottling and a pineapple-flavoured expression.