In 2012, Caribbean Journal’s Rum Journal first launched the Rum Awards — a unique celebration of the best rums of the year.
And after seven previous incarnations, the annual Rum Awards morphed into a full-fledged rum event in St Barth, the recently-concluded Caribbean Rum Awards, now an annual event on the Caribbean’s most exclusive island that will be held in Gustavia Nov. 10-15, 2020, held in partnership with the Saint Barth Rum Festival.
But the tradition of marking our favorite rums of the year remains, now called the Best Rums of the Year, part of our quest to celebrate and elevate rum, a spirit that continues to change — both in the glass and in the minds of consumers.
Indeed, it’s remarkable how much the rum world has evolved since we began the Rum Awards back in 2012 — there’s a new, welcome focus on premium and ultra-premium rums, on classification, on quality, and, perhaps most happily, an even greater appreciation for rhum agricole of the French Caribbean.
Rum still faces an uphill battle — to win the hearts and minds of consumers who still think rum is best off drowned in sea of coke.
But the size of that market is a declining one, as more and more people begin to appreciate the wonder of the Caribbean’s most famous export.
This year’s edition of the Best Rums honors rums in a diverse range of categories, from the Best Rum and Best Rhum Agricole of 2019 to the coolest bottle design and the best rum bar in the Caribbean.
Our 2019 judging was conducted, as usual, at Empire Social in Miami, with a team of rum experts tasting an enviable group of world-class rums, whittled down from several hundred sampled by the Rum Journal team over the course of the year across the Caribbean.
Here are the best rums of 2019.
Rum of the Year 2019: Goslings Papa Seal Bermuda Rum Every year, it gets more difficult to choose our favorite molasses-based rum of the year. But this year, we came full circle, returning to the brand that first took home the crown in the inaugural Rum Awards back in 2012: Bermuda’s Goslings. The company’s newest ultra-premium expression is exquisite, a luxurious, hand-bottled expression that is the best rum Gosling’s has ever made. A mix of pot and column-still rums brought to the Atlantic region and aged in Bermuda for more than 15 years in ex-bourbon barrels, it’s simply a world-class rum, and a new triumph for one of the hemisphere’s most venerable rum brands.
Double Gold: Ron Barcelo Imperial 30 Aniversario (Dominican Republic)
Gold: Zafra 30-Year Rum (Panama)
Silver: Samaroli Caribbean
Bronze: Chairman’s Reserve 1931 (Saint Lucia)