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Advice for rum newbies on "top shelf" rums

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Paul B 🇺🇸 | 426 ratings Posted 15 Apr '22

We rum veterans already know this, but this advice is mainly for the rum newbies. Never get sucked into buying a "top shelf" rum based upon price and/or fancy bottle.

I have analyzed 47 rums that cost me $60 US or more without the sales tax. See my enclosed chart on my findings. My rating gets me into the ball park and then I rank them overall to fall within each rating.  I have stated before that when one spends this much on a bottle of rum, it had damn well better wind up with a rating of 8 or higher. As you can see from the chart, only 18 out of 47 made this cut. And conversely, a whopping 12 out of 47 wound up being wasted money. Research our reviewers with similar tastes as yours before you plunk down your money for one of the "top shelf" rums.

If you are coming from a bourbon drinking background, then the Foursquare ECS rums are an excellent risk on expensive rums that never come in a fancy bottle. However, if you happen to find one that you like very much, good luck in finding it again. As for me, I hate bourbon, so I quit buying these rums.

The most that I have spent on a bottle of rum was $231 plus tax. It is one of the "wasted money" rums. Only one other rum cost more than my present limit of $150 per bottle, and it wound up in the second worst group.

And guess what? Out of the 49 rums that wound up in my top 10% rankings, 31 of them cost me less than $60 each. Price does not necessarily mean quality, but finding these excellent cheaper rums was mostly a matter of luck in taking risks.

Since I am only allowed one photo in these Discussions, I have to summarize what I found out about the 397 rums that I paid less than top shelf price for. About twenty percent are even worth buying while more than fifty percent are a total waste of money. Trying different rums is like anything else worth pursuing in life. It is all a risk.

Stefan Persson (TASTING CLUB) 🇸🇪 | 316 ratings Replied 17 Apr '22


Great advice!

Another advice is to try to get samples instead of buying bottles when you want to test something new.

 I don't know if stores and/or rum groups offer this in the US, but in Europe it's quite common.

Paul B 🇺🇸 | 426 ratings Replied 17 Apr '22


Where I live near New Orleans, spirits cannot be shipped into this state for any size. However, public drinking on Bourbon Street is very much encouraged. Go figure!  And the only samples that are sold in liquor stores are the bottom shelf crap.

And I now post my second chart that I described in my last paragraph of my initial posting. One can minimize the risk by buying top shelf rums, but one can never avoid getting ripped off on any purchase.

lubdas 🇧🇬 | 10 ratings Replied 18 Apr '22

Пол, хубаво е като един ветеран на рома, да напишеш класация с първите места на 10, 20 или 30 рома от твоето проучване. Така за новите любители на рома ще има посока , а за старите поле за дискусия !

RonRumHead (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 29 ratings Replied 15 May '22

Paul, I couldn't agree with you more. The rums I like most are aged and cost around $50 down here in FL. Mount Gay XO triple cask is a good example. I'm not buying 1 bottle of MG 1703 for the same price as 5 bottles of MG XO.

Paul B 🇺🇸 | 426 ratings Replied 16 May '22


That bottle of Mount Gay 1703 Master Select sounds like it is grossly overpriced where you live. For only one third of that price, I can get those wonderful Mount Gay XO Triple Cask rums for about $48 each. The Master Select runs about $140 where I live. It is a damn good rum, but it's cheaper brothers are a much better value and worthy of repeat purchases. After more than four years on this site, very few rums can claim that credit from me.  And with Mount Gay blends, one knows that these will always be available for quite some time and taste the same each time, unlike the ones from Foursquare ECS.  I quickly grew tired of that wild goose chase.

RonRumHead (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 29 ratings Replied 16 May '22

bar la moura 🇭🇷 | 95 ratings Replied 16 May '22

here a mount gay 1703 master select cost around 180$ and the XO triple cask around 55$,

a yamazaki 12 around 330$,

a remy martin XO around 160$, but ok a francois voyer XO around 80$

so i m thinking that distance is a key factor about the price, what comes from another continent is more expensive ...

another factor: how much a nation imports also is important, cheaper spirits in europe you can find in germany, big nation imports a lot so prices come down a bit ...

Paul B, as a rum drinker you re lucky, caribbean islands and northern south america are near USA so 

probably you will always find better prices than most of we europeans 


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