Friday, July 6, 2018

Caribbean Journal’s America’s Best Rums Awards

1. Siesta Key Rum (Florida) Still the leader, this Sarasota, Fla.-based boutique distillery has grown to become one of America’s most beloved rums, from its traditional spiced to its limited-batch expressions like the brand’s Toasted Coconut. It is as good as spiced or flavored rum gets. Period. (If you need more proof, it even took home the top honors against the best spiced rums in the Caribbean at this year’s Caribbean Rum Awards in Saint Lucia).

2. Papa’s Pilar (Florida) For years, this brand blended a range of rums from around Florida and the Caribbean Basin to make what is a delightful sipping rum — now, though, the Hemingway Rum Company is distilling its own rum at its new factory in Key West, adding an extra dose of authenticity. Either way — this is terrific rum.

3. Richland Rum Single-estate American rum? That’s precisely the result at this Georgia rum plantation, which grows its own cane and distills its rum in a copper pot still. Everything happens on the estate, from farm to glass. The result? A terrific aged rum.

4. Koloa Rum Company (Hawaii) Hawaii has quietly become a powerhouse of rum production, as more and more rum producers continue to pop up across the chain of islands — a part of the world with a long history of sugar production, if not rum production. The standard-bearer for Hawaiian rum has long been Koloa, based in Kauai, which makes a range of rums from white to spiced to flavored to aged — but we’re partial to the classic “dark” rum, which has a wonderful cacao-accented personality.

5. Ko Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum (Hawaii) Rhum agricole? From America? From Hawaii? Yes, that’s exactly what Ko Hana is making at its Manulele Distillers plant, using locally-grown sugarcane. The result is a range of three rums, a white, a “barrel aged” and a cask-strength, the last of which packs a true punch at between 55 and 63 degrees.

6. Thomas Tew Rums (Rhode Island) Colonial America was a hive of rum activity, so it’s almost essential that an American rum be made in the heart of New England. Enter Thomas Tew, a rum made by Newport Craft Brewing and Distilling. While there are two Thomas Tew rums, an overproof and an aged expression, the three-to-five-years aged single barrel rum is the one to go for – it’s hearty, bold and punchy — it’s what you’d imagine a Rhode Island rum might have tasted like centuries ago.

7. Bayou Rum (Louisiana) Made from local cane and molasses, this Lacassine, Louisiana-based copper-pot-still rum has been steadily growing in popularity (and distribution) over the last few years. While Bayou offers a range of four rums from unaged to three years, the spiced has long been Bayou’s best offering.

8. Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum (Hawaii) If you haven’t guessed already, Hawaiian rum is booming. And former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar was one of the pioneers of rum in Hawaii with his eponymous Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, a Maui-distilled expression that’s long been a Rum Journal favorite. The catch? You can only buy it in Hawaii.

9. Cane & Abe Rum (Wisconsin) While the state is known for beer, Madison, Wisconsin-based distillery Old Sugar is making a name for itself with its small-batch, oaky rum.

10. Mermaid Rum (Florida) Given its rich sugar-production tradition, it’s no surprise that Florida continues to churn out quality rum distilleries. One of the newest Florida rums to enter the scene is Mermaid Rum, which offers a blend of three-year-old Florida rum and Caribbean rum aged in whisky barrels. The result is, well, a very unique expression.