10 Essential Bottles of Rum

Experience the original drink of the colonies

Paul Yellin is tired of hearing that rum is the new bourbon. “Rum was here long before bourbon,” says the owner of the new Cane Rhum Bar in Charleston, South Carolina. “It was the original drink of the colonies, and that included the United States.” In the historic Holy City, the Barbados native is leading a Southern rum renaissance. “I want people to take time to explore beyond Captain Morgan and Bacardi, and learn about the spirit that made America… America,” he says. Not sure where to start? Take his suggestions.



  • Atlantico Private Cask, Dominican Republic ($36)

    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “Made from a blend of molasses and cane juice–based spirits, this is a long-aged rum that’s still lighter than most.”

  • Diplomático Reserva, Venezuela ($25)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “A cognac among rums. It’s rich but very adaptable, and it makes great cocktails. We use it for drinks traditionally made with bourbon, like juleps and old-fashioneds. Customers ask me what kind of bourbon I use, because they want to go out and buy it. That’s the highest compliment.”

  • El Dorado 15-Year-Old Special Reserve, Guyana ($40)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “A fantastic rum all around. I’ve never met a human being who had a bad thing to say about this rum, but I have met people who were completely freaked out that they’d never heard of it or tasted it before.”

  • Foursquare Spiced Rum, Barbados ($20)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “This is probably the best spiced rum in the world. Why? These are real Guyanese spices, not chemical flavorings. I know this because I can taste it, but also because I’ve been to the distillery and watched the distiller at work.”

  • Gosling’s Black Seal, Bermuda ($22)

    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “This is a lovely over-proof rum that’s the only choice for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy—literally. Gosling’s and Pusser’s are the only two companies in the world that have trademarked drinks. [Pusser’s is the Painkiller.]”

  • Mount Gay Black Barrel, Barbados ($30)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “Mount Gay is the oldest continuously operating rum distillery on the planet. It’s at least 313 years old. After all that time, they understand how to make rum. This is a great, subtle mixer.”

  • Rhum Barbancourt 15-Year-Old, Haiti ($48)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “Originally, this family was in wine and cognac in France. For more than 200 years, though, they’ve been making rum in Haiti. Aged for fifteen years in French oak, this is a sipper—never a mixer.”

  • Rhum J.M V.O., Martinique ($36)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “This is a classic rhum agricole, made from fresh cane juice instead of molasses. Martinique’s rhum agricoles tend to be smaller-batch, reflecting a French colonial approach.”

  • Ron Abuelo Añejo 7 Años, Panama ($34)

    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “Don Pancho, the distiller, is a legend and a master. He came from Cuba, where he spent decades at Havana Club. This is an amazing rum, especially for the money. It’s a solid choice for mixing.”

  • Plantation XO 20th Anniversary, Barbados ($49)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “Alexander Gabriel blends a stupendous collection of rums. These are all from Barbados, and between twelve and twenty years old. This is what angels’ tears must taste like.”

  • Pusser’s Rum Gunpowder Proof, multiple sources ($35)


    Photo: Courtesy of Cane Rhum Bar

    “When the British navy ruled the ocean, every sailor got a daily rum ration. The purser—or ‘pusser’—was the man on the boat responsible for the stores. He had the key around his neck. He rationed out a blend of rums from Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad… When the Royal Navy stopped issuing the rum ration in 1970, this company got the recipe for the blend.”