Rum is fermented and distilled molasses or sugar. It has a long history of being served as a medicinal drink and a ration in Navies. Dark Rums can add a burst of flavor to anything. The best dark rums can give you vastly different tasting experiences.
What Makes a Rum Dark?
There are not a lot of rules about what makes rum dark. People use the term to describe any rum with a dark brown color. The color can come from the addition of molasses or the aging process. These rums tend to be smoother and sweeter.
Since dark rum gets its name from the appearance of the liquor, you can find a lot of different flavor notes in dark rum. They are a very diverse drink option that can satisfy a wide range of samplers.
15 Best Dark Rums for Every Occasion
With so many options out there, it can be hard to find the best dark rums. The choices that made it onto the list had the best flavors, the most special notes, and the smoothest finish. You will have to experiment with a few of these to find the one you enjoy the most.
1. Diplomatico Ambassador
Diplomatico Ambassador is aged for 12 years in former bourbon casks and then for two more years in sherry casks to finish. This unique process gives the rum flavors of candied fruits, vanilla, and spice. You can pick up the aroma of chocolate and coffee beneath the fruit.
Ambassador would make a great cooking rum if anyone would ever use it for that, but almost everyone prefers sipping this rum either straight or over ice. It offers such bold and unique flavors that beg to be savored.
2. Flor de Cana 12
Flor de Cana 12 gives you a reddish amber appearance from being aged for 12 years in a sustainable and carbon-neutral process that makes you feel good while you’re taking each sip.
Your experience starts with the aroma. Scents of nuts, fruits, and honey make the rum smell sweet. When you drink it, you will taste vanilla, wood, and apples. Some people also say there are toffee notes to look for on the backend.
3. Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
Appleton Estate 21 Year Old is rum aged for so long that it could drink itself. The aging process gives the rum a spicy oak flavor to taste with underlying notes of dates and raisins. It is a rum that you enjoy alone or with a small amount of spring water to make it pop.
The drink starts with the aroma of the rum. You will pick up sugar, apples, tobacco, and chocolate to entice your palate.
4. Plantation Original Dark
Plantation Original Dark lets you experience island life every time you open the bottle. It mixes the best of Jamaica and Barbados rum and adds extra aging in France to make all the flavors more bold and smooth.
The rum has a lot of spice flavors, including pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. It also has a banana, plums, and vanilla taste that make it a unique rum.
5. Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario
Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario mixes rums of all different ages from 6 years to 23 years old. They use the solera process, which helps bring out the best flavors of the rum. The barrels previously contained whiskey, sherry, and fine wines.
You’ll taste fruits, oak, tobacco, coffee, and spices, including ginger. Butterscotch on the finish makes a sweet and flavorful rum. On the nose, you will pick up banana, pineapple, nuts, and toffee. These flavors and scents work together for an unforgettable taste adventure.
6. Rhum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 8 Year
Rhum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 8 Year Rum uses French Limousin oak barrels in the aging process. These casks use oak found in specific forests in France. It gives every taste of this rum a smooth oaky finish.
You will be able to taste fruits, vanilla, and pepper from this double-distilled rum. It can add incredible depth to any mix, or you can enjoy it by itself for a special treat.
7. Pusser’s True Aged 15-Year-Old British Navy Rum
Pusser’s True Aged 15 Year received the moniker of single barrel rum, which indicates the level of quality this rum imparts. It ages in a single cask for 15 years. The rum takes its name from the naval officer who controlled the rum on a ship.
When you smell the rum, you will find caramel, fruit, and spice. When you taste the drink, you’ll taste molasses and island spices that explode in your mouth. It finishes with a mix of smoothness and warmth that can leave you satisfied for long nights on the sea.
8. Papa’s Pilar Dark 24 Rum
Papa’s Pilar bases the rum on the life and adventures of Ernest Hemingway. The company ages the rum for up to 24 years in Spanish sherry casks. It is mixed together using the solera system to ensure you get the best taste from the different aged rums.
The nose of this rum has toffee, maple, and nuts. The flavor expresses itself with a smooth finish. You taste the spice, toasted nuts, and just enough sweet to add a pleasant compliment.
9. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Gosling Black Seal Rum doesn’t just have a fun label with an adorable animal on it. The rum also has an outstanding taste that will satisfy dark rum fans. It offers tasting notes of sweet spices, fruit, and vanilla.
Gosling’s indicates that this rum can be extraordinary in a dark and stormy, but you can drink it with nearly any drink to add an extra depth of flavor.
10. Facundo Exquisito
When you taste this Facundo Exquisito, you will find a mix of rums aged 7 to 23 years in oak barrels. It is combined and finished in old sherry casks to create an exceptional taste.
The mix gives drinkers the sharp fruit notes from the younger rums and the smokey richness of the older ones. It creates a complex taste profile with enough sweetness to make it a fun and bold experiment.
11. St Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla
Even though many of the dark rums on this list mentions flavors of vanilla, St. Aubin Rhum Agricole Vanilla takes it to the next level. Every bottle has a vanilla bean pod sitting at the bottom for you to enjoy.
The rum is delightful and fun to drink. It is an excellent addition to every sugar-filled mixed drink, but it also is a blast to sip on its own, especially if you like dessert.
12. Hamilton Overproof Rum 151
Hamilton Overproof Rum is perfect for anyone who wants to add a little extra kick to any of their drinks while retaining the flavors from dark rum. The experience starts with the nose of this rum that isn’t overpowered by the alcohol. You pick up on ripe bananas and roasted spices.
Hamilton ages this rum for five years to help bring out the flavors of vanilla, toasted caramel, and banana. They hit the banana hard in this drink, giving you a fun and uniquely island taste for anything it touches.
13. The Mount Gay Port Cask Expression
This dark rum isn’t higher on this list because it is only released annually in limited quantities. They mix rum aged for five years in Tawny Port casks with rums aged fourteen years in whiskey barrels.
The Mount Gay Port Cask Expression will have different flavor notes and aromas every year, giving you a new experience with each bottle. You will find different fruits, nuts, spices, and other flavors each time to enjoy. Check this year’s cask to find out what you can taste.
14.Cruzan Aged Dark Rum
When you’re looking for a great dark rum for a bargain, Cruzan Aged Dark Rum can help you out. You won’t break the bank on this liquor, but you will get some positive tasting notes from it. Expert crafters age the rum for two to four years in charred oak barrels.
Cruzan’s offers a spicy nutmeg taste that balances with vanilla and butterscotch. It is fantastic in a mix, but it also sips well, even at a low price.
15. Myers Original Dark Rum
A rum doesn’t become one of the most popular examples of a style without having some merits. Myers’s Original Dark Rum offers a robust sweetness with flavors of wood and caramel that show off the liquor’s capabilities.
Most often enjoyed in a mix, especially eggnog, punch, or hot ciders, you can also try it alone. It will give you a good idea of how dark rums should taste for a very affordable price.
Dark rum is the drink of the adventurer. From pirates to archaeologists, drinking rum evokes exciting images. There are tons of choices out there for dark rum. You can find flavors that you enjoy to pair with almost every meal.
Whether you’re using them for cooking, sipping, or mixing, you can find one that fits your taste. Aged dark rum is wonderful for sipping alone and enjoying the rich texture and notes. Exploring the best dark rums can help you find your next favorite drink.
This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.