To have (sugar) or to have not (sugar)

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Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Posted 9 Apr '22

That is the question! Updated, read on! I just finished a glass of Clement VSOP and it was throughly enjoyed after indulging in so much rum that has added sugar. But, those with added sugar are not that bad. I enjoy quite a few of them. I always assumed that if sugar is added it needs to be because the product would never sell otherwise. I do believe this theory. But, I tend to like quite a few rums that have added sugar. Since this recent indulgence with Clement I'm now in a state of confusion. I like both! What's your opinion? UPDATE, So for the last month I've stuck to those dry rums with 0-5gpl of sugar and have enjoyed all but one which leads me to this next situation. Now, I purchased 2 bottles of known sweet rums and instantly thought one was a cordial and the other real close. So, now I will be in search of the perfect amount of added sugar (maybe 10-15gpl) believing that there must be a perfect balance somewhere on this rum soaked planet. Any suggestions?

Jagsroy avatar image
Jagsroy (PREMIUM) 🇨🇦 | 287 ratings Replied 9 Apr '22

To each its own. If you like both continue on your rum discovery journey. BTW if you enjoyed Clement VSOP try the XO version... you should enjoy that one even more.

Stefan Persson avatar image
Stefan Persson (PREMIUM) 🇸🇪 | 511 ratings Replied 9 Apr '22


I believe that most of us started our rum journey with the sweet rum as Zacapa 23 and DRE.

 Today I've just a few over sweetened rums in my rum bar mostly from Oliver y Oliver.


Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 9 Apr '22

Stefan, There will be some changes in my stock going forward. It should soon reflect yours and I'm looking forward to such a lineup. 

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 9 Apr '22

Jagsroy, Thanks for the advice. XO soon to be behind my bar & look forward to trying it. My all time favorite is long gone and was a special bottling by J.Bally. At that time I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. A personal tour of the distillery by its owner back 30yrs ago. But, have no fear, I'm back in the Martinique saddle again.

Wolfe Tone avatar image
Wolfe Tone 🇳🇱 | 124 ratings Replied 9 Apr '22

Each to their own, I came into rum from Whisky and wine, so I hated the sweet stuff from the start. I avoid all sweetened rums tbh and mostly stick to Agricoles, funky Jamaicans and other dry and spicy rums. Same as I avoid sweet wines.

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 28 Apr '22

I've found Capn Jimbo's forum an indispensable tool with my rum travels. It amazes me how much variation there is in the added sugars. I've also noticed that the rums with less added sugars tend to have more flavor notes. I now use  his list every time I hit the one door store.

Dr. Arzt avatar image
Dr. Arzt 🇩🇪 | 16 ratings Replied 29 Apr '22

I like coffee but never add sugar. I hate Coca Cola and other soda because of the sweetness. If my Rum is to sweet I do not like it at all. Zacapa, A. H. Riise, Don Papa are the worst examples. Here you count a lot of money for cheap sugar, which is to pretend age and quality. That to me is the main problem, that sugar is used to cover up poor quality. 

But I am not a purist, the quantity  makes the difference. 

bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 21 May '22

Kevin, even for me it s a global scam ! rum is a destillate, destillate have to be clean of sugar

(0-5 grams per liter is ok, for example to mantain same colour as the previus batch,

just few grams of caramel and so)

big producers today use multi column stills, this metod can t give good rum

so they resolve this by adding sugar

non mainstream producers (smaller players) usually do pot still destillation

or pot still and column blends, this give automatically best products,

than some skill with aging and voila ! you ll have a good natural rum without high dosage

(dosage is called this sugar and other substances addition)

another question, who knows what s..t can be added ? maybe not just sugar ...

only way to stop this is to have some global regulation about this !

for now i see in this site (also in many blogs) people adoring stuff with 20, 30, 40

and more grams per liter, i have an advice for all of them, go buy yourself a liquor,

it have 20% of sugar but it cost waaaay less than many so called premium rums


Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 22 May '22

I agree 100 proof! If the rum is of quality no need for additives. If the rum has additives it's not rum! It just an unregulated concoction anyone can call rum. 6 billion people on the planet and 5 billion are idiots. Pretty huge market out there!

DB avatar image
DB 🇺🇸 | 70 ratings Replied 25 May '22

I honestly don't care about this issue that much - if it tastes good, it tastes good. Would I prefer no additives? Generally speaking, sure. But just ike with tequila, plenty of good ones that are manipulated. Same with whisky, the whole color added, chill-filtered thing and not being forth coming about it. No, I don't think any of this is a global conspiracy nor in every case do I think sugar s used to hide an otherwise bad distillate. A lot of this manipulation is done to please certain markets and changing preferences, or so I'd wager.

DB avatar image
DB 🇺🇸 | 70 ratings Replied 25 May '22

Sure, it's a fact sugar or other materials are added after distillation for whatever purpose - I never said there wasn't - but it ain't some mass effort (in my opinion) to cover up garbage booze. Some cases? Yeah! But not (again in my opinion) to the level that some might have you believe. Like with audio - people often PERCEIVE loudness as higher quality - it's all in the education. (Which I'm all for.) It's also a fact that there are great rums (and numerous other spirits) out there with additives. It's the individual's choice as to what they want to drink, or hear, or whatever - if it is pleasing to them, so what? But hey, I could be wrong...

And yes - you could call some of this lies of ommision, which you can apply to so many consumer commodities. This is not unique, is it? But of course - if the lie is blatant Company X says that they do something that they don't, or vice versa - they deserve to (and must) be called out.

FrankC avatar image
FrankC 🇺🇸 | 1 rating Replied 11 Jun '22

I lean to no sugar, mainly because of some things I do on social media with keto and low carb stuff. So I realy haven't had rum with sugar. It it really thay big enough of a difference in taste? I see that some only add 9 g/l. Is thY enough to notice a difference.?

bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 11 Jun '22

for me it is, for many people i m a fanatic to say so ... 

try a glass of water with just 9 grams and without, of course is 

a big difference ...

Paul B avatar image
Paul B 🇺🇸 | 471 ratings Replied 11 Jun '22


There are only two reasons to minimize the added sugar in rums and taste is not one of them. First off, any rum with 20 gpl or more of added sugar will slowly deteriorate in taste as the bottle slowly gets emptied. After two months, these will never taste like those beloved first sips. Second, these heavily sugared rums will do a number on one's internal plumbing the next day.

You will never be able to lump me in with the extreme sugar police.  I try to stick with dry rums that contain 0-9 gpl of added sugar. Some of this small amount of sugar actually comes from the barrels and is not added afterwards. Now and then, I will make repeat purchases of semi-dry rums that contain 10-19 gpl of added sugar. And yes, almost five years ago, I started out on this site liking sugar bombs like DRE and ED12. Never again!

Just drink what you like!  If you like any rum with 20 gpl or more of added sugar, make sure to consume in extreme moderation and to finish the bottle within two months. Added sugar amounts can be found on Captain Jimbo's Rum Project.

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 11 Jun '22

Paul, I have also noticed the rum deterioration and am wondering if we transfer the 750ml of rum into separate 200ml bottles and seal them nice & tight would that prevent this from happening?

bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 11 Jun '22

this days i read someone tried the new el dorado 12 and 15, almost no sugar in 

and they looks like totally different rums ...

Paul B avatar image
Paul B 🇺🇸 | 471 ratings Replied 11 Jun '22


I have not tried using smaller bottles to hold sweet rums, but that should workl. The more air that gets into the 750 ml bottle, the faster the rum deteriorates  I have had only two dry rums deteriorate in the bottle, Mount Gay XO and Flor de Cana 18.  This did not happen to the new Mount Gay XO Triple Cask, but that one is so good that I never gave it time to deteriorate.

bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 11 Jun '22

you re right Paul, the new MG XO is sooo good and every bottle finish too fast

Mr. Rumantic avatar image
Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 296 ratings Replied 12 Jun '22

I always fill my rums into smaller bottles if they only have 30cl or less, for example. It is a very simple and space-saving technique to preserve the rum well. I think, like many here, a good rum doesn't need any sugar or additives. The sugar also masks flavors, making rums easier and flatter. I also think the main purpose of sugar is to trick the customer into three things that many mistakenly associate with a quality rum: smooth, sweet, creamy. The sugar binds the alcohol and therefore the rum appears less alcoholic. I think with a little experience that you can taste the sugar relatively well from 5-10g. It always depends on the barrel storage. Of course, a wet sherry cask can bring a lot of sweetness with it, even without added sugar. in the end, the sugar is usually a means of saving money and faking a quality product. However, it must not be forgotten that in some countries it is traditional to add sugar (DR, or El Salvador, Panama). One reason why I often use independent bottlers, who have much more transparency here and pick out certain casks that are of high quality.


bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 12 Jun '22

i leave bottles half empty, for me no problem, if it s good it will become better with some oxydizing,

at least for good whisky i know it will become better when the bottle opened for months or years,

as for rums, if/when i see rum become worse, i will remove from my menu ! ok some very 

sugared rums are mainstream and the bottles are emptied fast so i will never know if the

rum deteriorate, don t want to put names here, they don t deserve additional marketing ...

Mr. Rumantic avatar image
Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 296 ratings Replied 12 Jun '22

You are absolutely right and an open bottle gets better over time if the rum has contact with some oxygen. Since I'm a slow drinker, I'll refill at some point. Especially high ester rums or agricoles, because I've seen that the quality suffers at some point.



bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 13 Jun '22

but in the bottle oxydizing goes very slow, it will take months to see some little difference

in a glass it goes fast, listening Paul saying flor de cana 18 deteriorating, in bottle it s 

still almost same after months (speaking for mine), while some days ago i had it in a glass, forgot to

drank it so the rum was around 4 or 5 hours staying in the glass, and really it was like drinking water,

no flavour at all, i was shocked

Mr. Rumantic avatar image
Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 296 ratings Replied 14 Jun '22

That depends on the rum and the ABV. I often let cask strength rums with over 60% breathe for over an hour or longer so that the rum can develop its aromas. Therefore, I cannot confirm that a rum basically loses its aromas in the glass. There is certainly a limit, but if you don't swirl the rum in the glass too much, the contact with the air is quite interessting. I think if there is too much air in the bottle, the rum will change over time. First it may become a little softer, but then it also loses aromas. Especially rums with high conngeners and fine notes. These are often only subtle differences, but decanting can't hurt :). If the rum is drunk for years.


Taster avatar image
Taster 🇨🇭 | 141 ratings Replied 25 Jun '22

I will not run away from a little bit of sugar. Most of my favorite rums are on the sweeter side. 

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Jimmy Cliff (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 502 ratings Replied 21 Jul '22

At first this started troubling me, but at the end of the day, who cares (unless your a diabetic) if it taste good and you like it then drink it. Here's another way of looking at it the good looking girl with natural breasts, or the great looking girl with large breast enhancement. Does it really matter? I'll drink Foursquare and Diplimatico Family reserve and I enjoy them both. 

wayoutwest 🇬🇧 | 101 ratings Replied 22 Jul '22

Up to now, I've only bought rums that have had little or no added sugar, as the samples I've had of sweetened ones like Bumbu I haven't liked much. 

Then the other week, I bought a friend a bottle of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva as I know he has a sweet tooth. I expected to find it sickly but surprised myself and found it not that sweet. Perhaps it was a bit muted in flavour but I happily drank a few glasses. 

The conclusion I come to is to take each rum as I find it, and perhaps try a few like Santa Teresa and Angostura that previously I had dismissed. I may not like them as much as Hampden or Foursquare, but I do like contrast, and perhaps that's the gift?

Paul B avatar image
Paul B 🇺🇸 | 471 ratings Replied 8 Aug '22

I was going to create another Discussion for this topic, but have already created enough of them. So here goes!

Plain and simple, Tiki drinks are sour and Caribbean drinks are sweet. Right after World War II, Tiki bars were all the rage on the west coast of the USA. Think Hawaii and the islands of the South Pacific.  I only realized this a few years ago after reading one of Beach Bum Berry's books. For years, I associted rum drinks as being sweet because my focus has always been on the Caribbean, since I grew up in it's northern capital. Our locally created and iconic Hurricane is loaded with sugar.

Given this basic knowledge, many Caribbean bottlers have figured on why not add sugar to the rum before it gets mixed into a drink. And given this finding, all sugar bombs can be considered as mixers! As many know me on here, I frown upon sugar police when it comes to rum. However, most also know the two reasons why I only buy rums with a minimal amount of added sugar, and it has nothing to do with taste.

The rum world is now gaining attention from those who want premium rums with no added sugar. This has produced many neat sippers with varying appeal.  It is also a gradual way to break free from bourbon and whiskey.

bar la moura avatar image
bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 170 ratings Replied 8 Aug '22

paul i agree to most that you write here but a rum over 50$ or more for me is not a mixer but a sipper, than if a lot of sugar is added (for me) it ruins the sipping experience, a mixer is (usually) cheap, the problem is that most producers (mostly spanish style but also some others) have this damn tradition to add sugar after distillation in all of their spirits, fortunately here (european union) they have to put a limit of maximum 20 grams per liter and i see many brands that was very high dosaged now are sugar free (talking always of sippers, not mixers), so for  me a rum 50 $ or more cant be a mixer, liquors used for cocktails also mostly cost less (ok few exceptions like italicus, chambord, st germain are around 50$ but they re excellence in their category ... )

Paul B avatar image
Paul B 🇺🇸 | 471 ratings Replied 8 Aug '22

bar la moura:

Nowhere in my previous posting did I even mention price per bottle. I checked all of my purchases for $50 or above and none were ever used as mixers. There is one main culprit that I had in mind when I suggested that Caribbean bottlers added sugar to appeal to the Caribbean sweet drink fans. This is none other than DRE with 41 GPL of added sugar and the most popular rum on this site. It is neither a rum nor even a liqueur. So what in hell is it? It is a pre-mixed Caribbean cocktail that only needs ice. I would also not hesitate to cook with it.  In the US, it goes for less than $40. Price does not determine mixer in my book. If it winds up as an expensive mixer for me, I simply don't buy it again.

Under my Gold Mixers category, I found 5 rums with added sugar.

Havana Club Anejo Classico (Puerto Rico) 17 gpl

Papas Pilar Blonde          16 gpl

Bacardi Major Lazer          8 gpl

Brugal Anejo                     7 gpl

Santa Teresa Anejo           3 gpl

White mixer rums are in a class by themselves and the best ones can be sipped neat, mainly because many are dark rums with the color filtered out.  I also separate from my White Rums these other classifications:  Agricoles, Clairins, and Cachacas.


cowboykidd  avatar image
cowboykidd 🇺🇸 | 12 ratings Replied 10 Aug '22

My favorite rums are on the sweeter end. Plantation, Zafra, Centenario.  If I am in the mood for bite, I will just drink bourbon or scotch.  What made me fall for rums was the sweetness which differentiated it from other distilled spirits with out swinging all the way to a cognac.  

Taster avatar image
Taster 🇨🇭 | 141 ratings Replied 11 Aug '22


same here 😎

And I have no problem with alleged taste changes because I don't leave open bottles for months 😉

Joey 🇨🇦 | 0 ratings Replied 11 Sep '22

So just in response to peopel saying how the bottle can spoil and drink in less than 2 months. I bought online Wine Preserverer. It's inert argon gas. Doesn't change taste. Displaces oxygen. Your booze will last forever with this. I also seal the cork with a beaker sealing film for all my bottles of booze. 

Rumrun11 avatar image
Rumrun11 (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 125 ratings Replied 9 Oct '22

For me it is like that old TV commercial for Mounds and Almond Joy. "Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't.".  I apply the same to rum. Sometimes I want a nice Bajan rum without the added sugars and sometimes I am in the mood for something that I know is a bit of a sugar bomb or even a spiced rum like Brinley shipwrecked. Do what you like and have a feel for. Just because a rum may be a bit of a sugar bomb does not make it less of a " true rum" in my opinion. That is the great thing about rum. It can be a bit diverse. 



mamo avatar image
mamo 🇮🇹 | 0 ratings Replied 10 Oct '22

Charles M 🇬🇧 | 149 ratings Replied 26 Oct '22

I used to love Abuelo 12yo (I've a soft spot for Panamanians), but went off big time as too sweet. 29g/l is far too much for me. Brother in law very kindly went to some trouble to get something out of the ordinary for me, and brought this along. I love the initial fruit and oak on it, but I can't get my head around the sweet, cloying finish.

So tonigh was blending session, with what I have open - which isn't as much as I usually have as doc said I was drinking too much!! But i found a good one to blend it with.... R.L.Seale's 10yo which I believe has 0 g/l sugar added. Dries out the finish quite nicely and I actually think, while still poss a wee bit too much sugar, the total is better than the sum of its parts. 

Les 80 avatar image
Les 80 🇬🇧 | 70 ratings Replied 2 Dec '22

to me if a rum  full off sugar it's not a rum I don't like sweet rums but can drink  them I like age runs best 

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 4 Dec '22

Charles M, on board with you. I'm in Panama now and all the rums I've been having, all supposedly from Panama, are sweet. Some not so much others are sugar bombs. So, I've been going with Cuban rums seeing their not available stateside and am enjoying this piece of paradise Cuban style. Pedro Mandgina in Panama city is blending some quality artisanal rum and he's got something going on that I look forward to in the future. He's got a great rum bar in old town. A must visit in Panama city. 

Leo 🇬🇷 | 15 ratings Replied 22 Dec '22

Depends on the rum. Many fellas hate "sugarbombs", yet occasionally enjoy thieir El Dorado 12/15/21, Plantation 20 XO, Zacapa XO etc.

I myself tried some of those and liked them very much, even if i wasn't tempted to buy an entire bottle. I prefer the unadutered rums by a long shot, like Flor de Cana, Chairman's reserve, Mount Gay etc.

I got mindblown by Dictador XO Insolent too, which was an extremely special bottle and lasted long. The Rumbulion Spiced also inspired me. I appreciate anything that doesn't offend my taste buds. It's just that i prefer quality and style more.

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 22 Dec '22

Leo, I myself enjoy a decent sugarbomb like the ED15, which recently doesn't seem to have that typical bomb effect anymore, is probably my favorite sugarbomb. But, most sugarbombs are just that, sugarbombs. I like variety in the rum world and don't believe there will ever be an ending to my exploring. Sugarbombs included!

cowboykidd  avatar image
cowboykidd 🇺🇸 | 12 ratings Replied 22 Dec '22

I think it is a balance.  Zacapa for example is almost syrup.  I like it sweetened, but it can go too far.  

Les 80 avatar image
Les 80 🇬🇧 | 70 ratings Replied 22 Dec '22

only one rum todate I couldn't drink because it was way too sweet was a plantation rum but I don't mind sweet rums if I am in the mood I say I didn't like them that's not true just as long as they not too sweet some rums add sugar and by drinking then u would never know 

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 78 ratings Author Replied 26 Jan '23

Well Matey, After long and arduous  journey I still like some sweetened rums but very few. The absolute truth is in the rums that don't need to add anything. It's become a pleasure to consume the real deal. Although there are some under the $50 limit they just can not stand up to the quality we all demand. The problem is that the base price is above the $50 mark so I tread lightly and hopefully forever!