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Top 10 award-winning rums and cachaças

Rum remains the third biggest spirits category in the world – and past editions of The Rum & Cachaça Masters have shown premium developments in the category. But what stood out in this year’s blind-tasting competition?

award-winning rums
This year’s award winners spanned multiple categories, from flavoured expressions to un-aged varieties

To assess the current standard of rums and cachaças on the market, we gathered a group of expert judges at the London City branch of Peruvian restaurant Coya.

The blind tasting was split between four groups of tasters due to the number of entries, with the first panel comprising: Bryan Rodriguez, wine and spirits buyer, Harvey Nichols; Sara Jane Eichler, founder of the Negroni Club UK; and Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor of The Spirits Business, who chaired the panel.

Group two was led by Matt Chambers, spirits writer and co-founder of the Whisky For Everyone blog. He was joined by Evan Prousaefs, bar manager at London’s Sexy Fish; and Claire Filer, of Ginesthesia.

David T Smith, spirits writer, consultant and co-founder of the Craft Distilling Expo, chaired the third group, which consisted of: Alan Uresti Silva, head of mixology at Annabel’s Mayfair; and Laurence Baker, general manager at Callooh Callay group.

The fourth panel was chaired by Billy Abbott, ambassador at The Whisky Exchange, and included: Vicky Illankovan, editor-in-chief of Sated Online, and marketing and project manager at Equal Measures UK; and Federico Caputo, assistant bar manager at Coya.

Keep reading to find out which 10 bottles came out on top.

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

wray and nephew Rum

We’re starting our list of award winners strong, as we begin with this overproof expression from Wray & Nephew. This bottle of white rum was the first Master medallist of the day’s blind tastings, and was praised by Abbott for its “intense” palate, “packed with cane greenness [and] lots of flavour.”

Sitting at 63% ABV, this punchy bottling is a great base for a Jamaican Wray and Ting – a refreshing Highball serve made with 50ml of Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, topped with Ting soda.

Plantation Barbados 2013 Under the Sea

award-winning rum

As the judges progressed to flights of gold rum, starting with a standard-priced selection (up to £25/US$31), a Master medal was found in the bottle of Plantation Barbados 2013 Under the Sea, which impressed with its “good texture” and “solid dark sugar notes”.

Part of the Plantation Under the Sea Vintage Collection, this particular bottling was distilled in 2013 at the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados. It is a blend of column and pot still rums that has been tropically aged for eight years in Bourbon casks, before travelling to France to finish maturation in Ferrand casks for one year.

Cacique Antiguo

award-winning rum

The tasting’s high standards continued into the ultra-premium heat of gold rums, where the price range was £41 (US$51) and above. Cacique Antiguo was described as having a “grassy and estery nose; nicely complex with some spice and a touch of mace and clove.”

This aged rum from Venezuela was born in commemoration of the 21st century, and crafted using a blend of rums aged for up to 12 years in ex-Scotch barrels, resulting in notes that are complex, structured and balanced.

Don Papa Gayuma

Don Papa award-winning rum

Only a few months into being under the helm of drinks giant Diageo, and Don Papa is proving why it was worth the high price-tag, after a Master medal was awarded to the Philippine rum brand for its Gayuma expression.

Matured in an eclectic mix of casks, this rum spent the first three years of its life in Bourbon casks, before moving to rioja barrels for six months, and then Islay whisky casks for a final three months. With smoky notes that break away to a medley of fruits and spices, this is a great sipping rum that slaps in an Old Fashioned.

Black Tot Master Blender’s Reserve 2022

award-winning rum

As the price range jumped to ultra-premium, the standard also markedly improved – with four Master medals awarded to dark rums priced at £41 and above, one of which went to Black Tot Master Blender’s Reserve 2022, which won the top award after impressing the judges with notes of “tangy dried orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, dark caramel and a hint of umami funk”.

The super-premium, limited edition rum has taken inspiration from historical rums in the brand’s collection, alongside the unique flavour profiles they exhibited over half a century ago.

Elizabeth Yard – Travellers Distillery – Ungrogged American Oak Taste No 1 Char Octave

Holyrood award-winning rum

Holyrood Distillery definitely delivered in the Dark Rum – Aged Over 13 Years flight, netting a Master medal for its Elizabeth Yard – Travellers Distillery – Ungrogged American Oak No 1 Char Octave. Smith liked this rum’s “light spiciness with just the right amount of sweetness”.

At the end of the day, the judges whittled down the Master medal winners to find the stand out expression of the day, and it was this bottling that took home the Taste Master award for The Rum & Cachaça Masters 2023.

Depaz XO

Tasting notes for Depaz XO included “a rich Cognac-like nose” leading to a “floral, aromatically fruity palate with orange and grapefruit peel”, and it wasn’t long before the general consensus was to award it a coveted Master medal.

If you’re looking to add a sipping rum to your collection, Rodriguez enthused that this expression was “absolutely beautiful.”

Hazelnut Rum

Belgrove Rum

Belgrove bagged a Master for its Hazelnut Rum, and for anyone who loves the indulgent flavours of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, this tot is a must-have that happens to make for a perfectly indulgent Espresso Martini.

It is described as a smooth, well-balanced and deliciously complex rum, with a  combination of rich, toasted hazelnuts and notes of cocoa and vanilla. Smith said it was “delightful” with a “good nuttiness in harmony with the rum”.

Yaguara Organico


To complete the tasting, the judges were given a healthy measure of cane spirits and cachaças to sample. Yaguara Cachaça went straight to the top with a Master medal for its Organico entry. Prousaefs said the spirit had “great balance and long aftertaste”, with “loads of red fruits” on the palate.

Yaguara is an organic Brazilian cachaça made by a fifth-generation family owned producer. One-fifth of the blend is aged in oak for up to six years, and is boasts notes of lemongrass, camomile and black pepper, all of which is said to make for a great extra-spicy Caipirinha.

Cachaça Dom Tápparo Extra Premium Carvalho Europeu 12 Anos

Dom Tápparo

Cachaça Dom Tápparo Extra Premium Carvalho Europeu 12 Anos was praised for its notes of “minty chocolate, vanilla, cherries and soft, woody spice”, and was subsequently awarded a Gold medal.

Resting at 38% ABV, this cachaça boasts a sunny golden colour – the result of its time spent in a combination of Brazilian wood and European and American oak  casks. Each of Dom Tápparo’s cachaças are kept in these barrels for a minimum period of six months before being bottled.

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