It’s hard to believe that this year is the seventh annual edition of the Rum Awards, a celebration of rum that was one of the earliest innovations of Caribbean Journal. And it’s just as remarkable how much rum has changed in these seven years.
Today, an increasingly knowledgable consumer base is appreciating the unparalleled diversity and romance of rum — but also asking more of rum companies, pushing them to launch more sophisticated, more authentic — and more premium — expressions.
Consumers are also beginning to discover the joy of the world of Rhum Agricole, a small fraction of global production that manages to produce a wide-ranging, artisanal, terroir-focused offering that includes some of the greatest cane spirits you will find anywhere.
It all means that rum is in a very good place, whether one is starting his or her rum journey or taking trips to collect rare bottlings in the far corners of the West Indies.
It also means that every year the judging for the Rum Awards gets more difficult, as the Rum Journal team travels across the Caribbean region, visiting distilleries and sampling rums (and sampling them again). This year, we began the judging with a dossier of more than 200 rums tasted, one that eventually whittled down to a field of 12 rums for the Rum of the Year category.
This year’s final judging was conducted again at the terrific Casa de Montecristo by Prime Cigar in Miami, where the Rum Journal panel conducted six rounds of spirited tasting and eventually settled on the winners.
This year’s slate of winners is as impressive as ever, hailing from across the Caribbean and the United States and demonstrating, again, the wonder of the world of rum.
But remember, as we like to say at Rum Journal, the best rum in the world is the rum that’s in your glass right now.
Rum of the Year: Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, Cuba Each year, choosing the Rum of the Year gets more difficult. More and more producers are making exceptional aged rums, using new blending and aging techniques, experimenting with special finishes and helping to raise the perception of premium rum in the marketplace. But this year’s winner was a veritable institution of the rum world, from one of the great rum producing countries of the world. Havana Club, Cuba’s flagship rum, produces a broad portfolio of expressions, from traditional white rum to rums specifically blended to be smoked with Cohibas. But this year, its signature ultra-premium rum took home the crown. Havana Club’s Seleccion de Maestros, bottled at a robust 45 degrees, is a blend of reserve-stock rums, brought together by the company’s master rum makers. After multiple rounds of judging, the Havana Club held up against all competitors, thanks to its hallmark: a truly remarkable balance. This is a delicate, luxurious rum that just kept holding up after repeated tasting, one that is consistent from start to finish and that simply begs you to pour another glass. Plainly, it’s an exquisite rum.
Double Gold: El Pasador de Oro Rum XO, Guatemala
Gold: El Dorado 21 Year Old Rum, Guyana
Silver: Angostura 1824, Trinidad
Bronze: Chairman’s Reserve 1931, Saint Lucia