After rating 127 rums over the past 8 months, I may be one of the few that considers ratings by price. With the help of fellow reviewers, I only found one third of my trials to rate at 5 or below that I would never buy again. This is not bad at all and I thank everyone so much. So, using my B/C ratios sorted by price groupings, I have compiled a list of best buys. For any rums priced at $40 US and above, none are good buys. Some may taste great, but I cannot consider any as good buys. I only ventured once into the rums costing over $50. If you can afford it, Dictador XO Insolent is worth it's $96 US price tag and is the only rum that I rated as a perfect 10. Here are the groupings:
Less Than $20 US
Don Q Anejo
Plantation Original Dark Double Aged
Plantation Artisinal 3-Stars
Flor de Cana Anejo Oro 4
Ron Centenario 7
El Dorado 8
Ron Medellin 8
Appleton Reserve Blend
Flor de Cana 7
Cana Brava 3 Year Old
El Dorado 12
Diplomatico Reserva Esclusiva
Ron Cartavio Solera 12
Don Pancho Origenes 8
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I would add the $25-$30 Kirk and Sweeny 12 to the list as an excellent value in aged rums. Sold at many Costco locations, and widely distributed. Without question that the Plantation OFTD, which I find locally for around $28-$30 is an absolutely fire sale price for what you're getting. Really, nearly every Plantation rum is an exceptional price for the juice you're getting in the bottle.
Much appreciated list. Thanks.
IceMan: K&S 12 was one of the first rums that I reviewed on this site. I loved it at first, and then three weeks later, leather dominated the taste, so I dropped my rating from a 7 to a 6. I have it ranked 68 out of 127.
As for Plantation XO at $40 per bottle, it is not a good value, especially since this sugar bomb begins to lose it's flavor after only two months. If you think $40 is a good buy and plan to consume it in less than two months, then go for it. Plantation Barbados is also not recommended since it is overly sweet (and cheap).
IceMan, what a great start to this site with your EXTREMELY well written reviews. You have also inspired me to give Kirk & Sweeney another chance. After reading reviews on their 18 and 23 year old, I bought a bottle of their 18. It won't be reviewed until one more week, along with Foursquare Zinfandel Cask and Don Q 2005. Keep up the good work.
Paul, I do rate with price in mind. The two that stick out to me are Doorly's 5yo and Chairman's Reserve. I realise they are not to everyone's taste but when price is considered, they are both pretty decent.
It is funny though, but when a company bring out a really expensive rum, I am invariably disappointed by them. Here in the UK, Valdespino and Abuelo XV Oloroso weren't exactly cheap. But they seem to have gone down the route of thinking that to make an uber premium rum, they had to muck about with it far too much. The Abuelo was sickly sweet and nigh on undrinkable. The Valdespino, was disjointed and unappealing although in a pretty package.
I have Chairman's Reserve ranked 139 out of 165. It is completely dry, but I found it boring. All of the Doorly's are on my wish list and that would be a 400 to 500 mile trip, but not to just get those rums.
Paul, that's the beauty of rum. We all find different things in it. It is also the spirit which is probably more diverse than any other, which I think adds to the subjectivity of it all. As for the Chairmans Reserve, it is dry, a style I like. Having said that I like a lot of rum styles!! Boring - I can understand that. You know sometimes I would totally agree with you about it, but then other days, I find it really quite interesting. Its not the best rum by any means, but the price is good, and as cheap rums go, it is something I would definitely take over something like Eclipse. I note from your cabinet you wouldn't. Actually looking at your rums, I think that we are broadly in line with each other, with maybe the exception of Goslings Family Reserve - but then again, its all subjective.
Doorly's 5yo is a rum I would always take over the Chairman's, although I wouldn't go 400 miles out of my way to get it! :)
Since I live in Louisiana, no alcohol can be shipped to me. I am a frequent visitor to Florida, which I call as my true home. So any excuse to go back to Fernandina Beach to hang out for a few days and be near a Total Wine store is good enough for me in retirement. My other option with less mileage is the Houston area and hanging out on Galveston Island for a few days. To drive that far for anything, I need multiple reasons, so picking up multiple bottles of Doorly's, Mezan, Kaniche, and Foursquare rums is a side benefit for the long drive. I have it very good where I live, but I do get tired of the same scenery.
Your best rums in your cabinet are not even available where I live.
America seems to have overly complicated laws when it comes to alcohol. As for excuses, if you are married, then I am sure it would be easy to come up with one to escape the boss!!! :)
I don't think that the latest Foursquare are quite up to the previous ones. I have a client who has fallen for them, and while he usually buys wine, he does take the odd bottle of rum for himself. I have let him have one of my Foursquare Zinfandel (alas I don't have enough of the Port to let go), but the Dominus is too strong, and the Premise not as good as Mezan.
Now Mezan and bang for your buck is an interesting one, if you look up the price ladder a bit. I look at some of these super premium rums (like Valdespino) and think that they are too over worked and really not worth the money. Mezan sell themselves as the "untouched rum" and they can hit upon some really really good selections. I am not really the biggest fan of their Jamaicans, as they aren't really my preferred style. But boy oh boy. To me their Panama (some, not all bottlings) can now be joined by their new Belize bottling as being right up there. So bang for buck at the top end, I think Mezan gets it right. Then again Foursquare isn't the most expensive rum in the world, and I loved their Zinfandel and Port bottlings.
When I finally tried Foursquare, I loved their Zinfandel cask, but did not care for their 2004 blend aged only in bourbon oak barrels. The only Foursquare left on my wish list is their Spiced, which I understand is very good.
Thanks for the broad overview of Mezan rums, since I knew nothing about them except for their rave reviews. I also am not all that fond of Jamaican hogo funk rums. My first Panamanian rum was Abuelo 12, which was a huge mistake. I have since found quite a few wonderful Panamanian rums.
As far as cheap rums, I like the Appleton low end rums, Chairman's Reserve and Doorleys.
However, I am willing to spend a little more to get the Mezan Jamaica Xo, I like the Jamaican rums.
I also really like the Foursquare Port Cask rum that I have. The one rum that I have not found, but want to try is The Real McCoy. Anyone ever try it?
Barbados Rum Pirate:
I have the Real McCoy 12 Year rated as a 7, while their 5 and 3 year rums I have rated as a 5. Their 12 Year is recommended, but when cost is considered, there are other better buys out there.
Isn't it a fact that the Real McCoy is more expensive than the real McCoy?? (The real McCoy being Doorly's)
The Real McCoy rums are definitely more expensive than their Doorly's counterpart. If you look at a map of where Total Wine stores can be found in the USA, these are the only places where the cheaper Doorly's rums can be found. As for the remaining states like mine where there are no Total Wine stores, these are the ones with the really weird alcohol laws as you have mentioned before. It is my own opinion that Real McCoy rums were created to rip off those living in states that have no Total Wine stores.
It’s not hard to find good rum if you don’t care about the price. Most rum is good or very good if you are willing to pay over 100€. But to find (very) good rum at a low price isn’t that easy. I have therefore created a list of rum which I think is good or very good at a reasonable price. About Spanish and British styled rum I have limited the cost to 40€/bottle at European online shops. When it comes to Agricole I must raise it to 60€.
1. Ron Zafra 21 (40€) - Superb
2. Santa Teresa 1796 (40€) - Very good
3. Ron Botran 1893 (27€) - Good
4. Others that’s good in the price segment: Havana Club Maestros (36€), Malecon Rare Proof 13yo (37€).
1. English Harbour 5yo (19€) - Superb and the most pricewhorty of all rum I have tasted.
2. R.L. Seales (33€) - Wonderful rum in a wonderful bottle.
3. El Dorado 15yo (35€) - Very good, a reference rum.
4. Others that’s good in the price segment: Chairman’s Reserve (20€), Appleton Rare Blend 12yo (22€), Smith & Cross Trad. Jamaican Rum (23€), El Dorado 12yo (26€), Captain Bligh XO (32€), Doorly’s 12yo (35€), Sixty Six 12yo (37€)& English Harbour Cask Finish (39€).
1. Saint James 12yo (58€) - Superb.
2. Montebello 10yo (57€) - Very good.
3. J.M XO (50€) - Maybe the best Agricole to taste if you want to taste Agricole for the first time and to a very competitive price.
4. Others that’s good in the price segment: Dillon 12yo (39€), Barbancourt 15yo (40€), Damoiseau XO (45€), J. Bally 12yo (57€), ReimonenQ Cuvee Prestige (59€), HSE XO (59€) & La Mauny XO (60€).
You forgot to add Mount Gay extra old
I’m sure there are more rum that can earn a place at the list it’s all about personal opinion.
I didn’t like Mount Gay’s premium rum 1703 and therefore also never have tested their XO. If I remember right it was the first British styled rum I tested, so I will give Mount Gay a second chance.
Stefan's list is quite long and extensive, and depending on style, is something I wouldn't disagree too much with.
Rum is of course all about personal taste, and with one rum being so different from another, it is more subjective than other spirits. My personal list of cheaper everyday rums are as follows
1. Chairman's Reserve
2. Doorly's 5yo
3. Sunset Captain Bligh XO
4. Bermudez 1852 Aniversario 12yo
Price and my preference are broadly in line as well.
The one rum that I would think deserves a place on Stefan's list is another rum from Barbancourt. He has the 15yo on it, but the Barbancourt 5 Star (8yo) is not a bad cheaper rum. However, I think it is about €27-30 so if you can get the 15yo for €40, then the price difference might not make it that attractive.
Here is my fool proof formula for the QPR, which I have been referring to as my B/C ratio (from years of doing cost estimates for multi-million dollar construction projects).
Let NRR equal the total number of rums rated and MP equal the maximum allowable price before taxes. In my case, I let MP=$97 US. I also stay away from expensive rums with pretty bottles or false age statements and $97 US is the most that I ever paid for an entire bottle. It is then VERY important to honestly rank all of the rums that you have reviewed. Side by side tastings may be necessary in many cases.
Then QPR=((1+NRR-Ranking)/NRR)/(Shelf Price/MP)
Once this is done, sort the results in descending order and then plot them. The ones with QPR values above 3.0 will really stick out, but these will all be for rums costing less than $30 US. To get around this problem, have another column in the spreadsheet for price level (1=less than $20 US, 2=$20-$29 US, etc.). Then sort by price level first, followed by descending QPR. No surprise, the one at the top of price level 4 (costing $40 US or more) is Plantation XO 20th Anniversary.
This is also great for doing "What If?" scenarios. For example, Angostura 7 is a pretty good rum, but at $28, it's QPR value just did not cut it. Experimenting with the price was how I found out how much it is over priced. As for the rankings, you can experiment with those as well, but the more rums ranked, the less it affects the QPR value.
This sounds like a lot of work, but once the spreadsheet has been set up, it is actually pretty easy.