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My ranking of best buy rums costing $80 US or more


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Paul B (PREMIUM)

Posted 21 Jul '21 from United States with 414 ratings

When I started out on this journey, I put a $50 US per bottle limit on myself after not liking Don Q Gran Anejo at all. As you can see from this list, this has changed. I chose $80 US for my minimum cost because quite a few ran at this same price and the next one down was $72 US creating a gap. My maximum spent was on my only bottle of Caroni at $190 US. Next in line was the $138 that I spent the other day on my bottle of Foursquare Shibboleth.

The way that I calculated these rankings is that taste counts twice as much as cost, plain and simple. My maximum cost has been $120 US for that part of the calculation, and the aforementioned two went over that amount. For taste, it is VERY important that I properly rank all of my rums, which lets me know if a rum falls in my upper percentage or lower than dirt. Don't laugh, this works for me! I first tried a complex QPR formula and that did not work. KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.

And now for my ordered list:

Highly recommended
-----------------------------
Dictador XO Insolent
Dictador XO Perpetual
Clement Cuvee Homere
Frigate Reserve 21 Year
Bacardi Facundo Exquisito
Chairman's Reserve 1931
Ron Zacapa XO
Don Pancho Origenes 18


Good if you have the money
--------------------------------------
Admiral Rodney HMS Formidable
Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial 16 Year
Rhum J M 2008 10 Year (just bought my second bottle)
Appleton 21
El Dorado EHP Single Barrel
Foursquare Shibboleth 16 Year ($100 would be a better price)
Hampden Estate Great House 2020
El Dorado 15 Year Madeira Sweet Cask Finish
El Dorado 21

Never to be purchased again!
----------------------------------------
Carupano 21 Year (I would not let anyone pay me to try this one again)
Caroni 2000 110 Proof 17 Year (if it were only $100, then that would be a much better buy)
Diplomatico Vintage 2004 (Very disappointing)

I hope this helps.
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kudzey (TASTING CLUB)

From Poland with 25 ratings Replied 22 Jul '21

Paul, Thanks for sharing your experience. I think you could avoid loosing money on expensive rums by getting a sample first. A 5cl sample of Caroni 17yo would probably cost some 10 USD. A small sample would be enough for you to instantly realize that this rum is not what you like. This is how I saved some 100 USD on Abuelo Centuria, two sips and I knew I didn't like it.
Large jessica for rum ratings

Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 414 ratings Replied 22 Jul '21

kudzey:

Thanks, but where I live, it is illegal to have any spirits shipped to me. Samples also cannot be sent to nearby liquor stores for me to pick up. This is actually not the location of the most archaic alcohol laws leftover from Prohibition in the USA.

Since I already know that Abuelo Centuria is way too sweet, I would never drive 200 miles to pick up an entire bottle. However, had a I somehow gotten a sample of that Caroni, I would still have wanted an entire bottle. It is just that it appealed less to me after 40 days when I finished it. For $100 US, the Caroni would have been a good buy, but anyone who pays more than $200 US for it as an investment is an absolute fool unless another fool is willing to pay even more.
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kudzey (TASTING CLUB)

From Poland with 25 ratings Replied 22 Jul '21

Paul, I'm sorry to hear that law in your neighbourhood is hostile towards your hobby. It's impressive that you rated so many rums despite this uncomfortable situation. High pricing is a factor that I tackle other way. I don't drink very frequently, maybe a glass or two or week, if there are no parties with my friends. I sometimes just decide to buy a rum twice as expensive but to limit its consumption to very rare occasions. It happened to be that my favorite rum so far is also the most expensive one I've ever drank (I hope this is not just a hedonistic self-deception). If I drink it only to celebrate special occasions, I don't get used to this luxury good and every tasting is inspiring for me. Of course, I can't afford some rums but in general I try to keep diverse price levels and keep the price-to-consumption-time constant. What's the longest you had a bottle open for?
Large jessica for rum ratings

Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 414 ratings Replied 22 Jul '21

Kudzey:

It looks like Royal Navy Tiger Shark is your top luxury rum. I cannot even get that one over here. Lucky you!

Each state has certain brands that they are allowed to carry. Before we got three new Total Wine stores in my state, I would have to drive about 400 miles to the west to get exclusive rums in Texas. Now I can get them here locally. Then there is Florida, which has their own unique choice of rums. I am one of those people that when I decide that I want something, I damn well find a way to get it with no excuses. For what I have spent on this nearly four year rum journey, I could have had a new luxury car instead. No regrets there! But the reason that I am saving so much in retirement is that I am not wasting money on buying a new car every year. I also fulfilled all of my retirement travel wishes before starting this rum journey. This left me with a good bit of disposable income to be spent on rum, especially since I no longer have a gold digger at my side. I now have reviewed enough and I have a list of about 40 repeat purchases. If I come across a prospective new rum that I have not tried, I will certainly get it as long as it is less than $200. But I will no longer go out of my way to find another new rum.

So how long have I kept a bottle? Probably about a year because it was so bad that it just sat there. I cannot even remember what it was. As of today, I have 11 bottles that have been opened for four months. The good and affordable ones seem to go fast. I no longer buy rums with more than 20 gpl of added sugar because they do not last in the bottle.
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Jimmy Cliff (PREMIUM)

From United States with 313 ratings Replied 23 Jul '21

I like your choices and agree on everything except Dictator. The two that I have tried tasted heavily flavored like maple syrup.I will have to try the specific ones you mention. If it’s available find a bottle of Foursquare Detente released earlier this year. I think it’s incredible, mid strength 51% and great value at $65-69 bottle. It’s going fast I buy every bottle I can find. I’m still waiting on my preorders of Shibboleth and 2009.
Large jessica for rum ratings

Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 414 ratings Replied 23 Jul '21

Jimmy:

My only bottle of Detente wound up only in my top 28% of my own rankings. It is an easy drinker, but there is just too much other competition out there for me to buy it again. My recent purchase of Shibboleth has already moved up from a high 8 to a low 9 rating. I just hate bourbon notes and this one has none. There is one other bottle available within 50 miles and I just may drive over and get it before it is gone. Maybe they took cues from J M Rhum from Martinique, who scrape the excess char from the barrels before aging their rhums.

My recent purchase of Grander 8 Year single barrel is sinking fast in my ratings. I see what you are saying when Marlin fishing inspired their names. They are neither Grander nor Trophy Releases. As for me, I gave up fishing in 1987 because I got tired of cleaning fish. I then got certified for scuba and always went down with my underwater camera. That was the best 10 years of my life, diving on the underwater walls of the Caribbean. Fish are not stupid for the most part.

As for Dictador, their XO series is very special. At midway through aging, they remove the rum from the barrels, char the barrels again, and replace the rum into the newly charred barrels. The list price on those is $110 per bottle, but I always find them on clearance nearby for only $80 because no one wants to deal with the sticky outside of those bottles. Fantastic rum in terrible bottles. The company also sells coffee beans and uses those barrels for aging their rum and aguardiente. These already sweetened barrels are why they never need to add sugar to their rum. I did find one Dictador that I absolutely hated, which was the 100 month aged Claro. That one was atrocious.
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kudzey (TASTING CLUB)

From Poland with 25 ratings Replied 25 Jul '21

Paul, if you are a fan of Dictador rums, I defenetely recommend trying the "best of" series. I know the prices are quite high (polish online stores sell them at some 180USD) but the quality gap between the 1979 I drank and the XO is much greater than between the XO and basic range of 20 and 12.
Large jessica for rum ratings

Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 414 ratings Replied 26 Jul '21

kudzey:

I cannot even get the Dictador "best of " series where I liv.
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