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The Best American Rums — 2015

Every July 4, Caribbean Journal celebrates America’s Independence Day by rewarding the best rums made in the 50 US States. American rum has been getting consistently better in recent years, as more craft distillers pop up and the American palate keeps turning toward the Noble Spirit. These are our 10 favorites in the US right now. This year, we focused on the country’s best rum brands, as opposed to individual marques. (Note: as usual, we didn’t include rums from Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands, which are geographically Caribbean rums and, of course, are considered in our annual Rum Awards each December.)


Siesta Key Rum

Troy Roberts’ Sarasota distillery is, right now, the best in America. There’s a reason his limited edition rums sell out in hours, the lines get longer and longer and the distribution keeps expanding. Siesta Key’s signature spiced blend is a gold-medal knockout that isn’t just the best in America — it’s better than any in the Caribbean, too.


Papa’s Pilar 

This is a blend of rums from around the US and the Caribbean, but it’s distilled right in America (with operations soon to shift to Key West). Part of the proceeds go to the Hemingway Estate, as the rum is named for Papa’s famous fishing boat, Pilar. While the “blonde” variety is a terrific mixing rum and sippable in its own right, it’s the 24-year that’s the superstar.


Richland Rum

New to this list, Richland rum is born and bred in the state of Georgia. The company’s Single Estate rum is a wonderful thing, made not from molasses but from pure cane syrup, offering a lighter but in many ways purer spirit.


Lost Spirits

Equal parts laboratory and rum distillery, Bryan Davis’ California-based distillery has revolutionized the industry with magical recreations of some of the world’s greatest rums — often in days instead of years, using chemical reactions. The results are stunning, from Demarara rums to Colonial American spirits.


Thomas Tew

Named after the famous Rhode Island pirate, this Newport-based distillery pays tribute to the great rum-making heritage of New England with a robust, bold rum made using blackstrap molasses.


Koloa Rum

A great Hawaiian rum, Koloa’s party piece is its wonderful Dark variety, a rich, chocolatey variety that’s notably smooth. The company also makes some spiced and flavoured varieties, both of which are rather good, too. It’s all made on the naturally spectacular island of Kaua’i, home to rich, volcanic soil.


Dancing Pines Rum

Rum from Colorado? Yes, rum from Colorado. Dancing Pines Distillery (which makes a range of spirits beyond rum) in Loveland is a boutique, artisan distillery putting out some seriously good expressions (and not just rum), led by its barrel-aged cask rum.


St George California Agricole Rum

Yes, it’s rhum agricole. No. It’s not from Martinique. This California agricole, though of course not qualifying for the AOC designation, puts up a good fight. It pays homage to its French Caribbean brethren with a vegetal, grassy spirit in true agricole fashion. (The Reserve is even more impressive).


Bayou Rum

Much of Louisana’s soul comes from the Caribbean, and Bayou Rum is true to that spirit — with a range of rums from spiced to its Bayou Select aged expression.


Maui Rum

Made in a tiny craft distillery on the Hawaiian island of Maui, this is raw, bold rum with what has become a quintessentially Hawaiian rum taste of chocolate, coffee and rich flavors and the character of a black strap spirit. It’s the only rum actually made in Maui, using local Maui molasses. While the Dark Rum is definitely sippable, it’s best as a floater or in a Mai Tai. And Haleakala Distillers makes a number of other rums, including a furious overproof variety.

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