National Rum Day on August 16 is the sort of blissfully made-up booze holiday we can all get behind – as long as there is plenty of fine rum to drink.
1. Panamá-Pacific 23-Year
Panama, $60; Distiller Score: 96
Panamá-Pacific Rum is named for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and the rebuilding of post-earthquake San Francisco. Distilled at the famed Ingenio San Carlos (“Las Cabras”) distillery, the rum is initially rested in Kentucky bourbon casks for three years.
Rum selections that are approved for an extended maturation are transferred into exhausted Tennessee whiskey barrels for further aging. Panamá-Pacific notes that the age statement reflects the youngest rum in the blend, not just a portion of it.
2. Ron Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum
Venezuela, $38; Distiller Score: 94This is the Venezuelan distillery’s flagship rum, called “exclusiva” as a tribute to their 18th century founder Don Juancho Nieto Meléndez, who was always in search of exclusive flavors for his rums. It’s a blend of 12 year old copper pot-still rums made from both molasses and sugarcane honey, aged in ex-bourbon barrels.
3. Facundo Exquisito
Bahamas, $100; Distiller Score: 94A blend of rums aged between 7 and 23 years, Facundo Exquisito is then finished for a month in sherry casks. This super-premium offering from Bacardi is one of four rums in the Facundo line, which are named after Bacardi Chairman Facundo L. Bacardi, the great-grandson of Bacardi founder Don Facundo Bacardi Masso.
4. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
Guyana, $45; Distiller Score: 94
El Dorado has been produced at Demerara Distillers Limited since 1992 on Guyana. The 15 Year is a blend of aged demerara rums, some as old as 25 years, made in different styles of stills - Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills, Port Mourant double-wooden-pot-still and Versailles single-wooden-pot-still. The rums are blended and aged in ex-bourbon casks.
5. Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum
Barbados, $47; Distiller Score: 93
The Extra Old was released to mark Alexandre Gabriel’s 20th anniversary at the helm of Cognac Ferrand. The Extra Old showcases Plantation’s oldest Bajan rum reserves, aged for 12-20 years in bourbon casks. The selected rums are blended at Château de Bonbonnet in France and finished in small French oak casks for 12-18 months.
St. Croix, $18; Maxim Score: 90Cruzan Black Strap is reminiscent of the classic navy rums of the U.S. Virgin Islands, with a rich, dark and aromatic flavor profile. Crafted by the Nelthropp family, who has been making rum on the island of St. Croix for generations, it's medium to heavy-bodied and produced using a five-column distillation process to remove unwanted impurities. Best enjoyed on the rocks or as a premium floater in classic rum and tiki cocktails.