If you're ready to distance yourself from the occasional rum and Coke but don't want to give up on the sugar cane spirit altogether, Penny Blue XO Rum should rise to the top of your list. Made at the oldest distillery in Mauritius, where you'll find a sugar cane estate that has been making rum since 1926, Penny Blue is named after the world's rarest stamp, and this rum is very limited as well, with only 2500 bottles making it to US shelves. Each batch is unique as well, some aged in American oak whiskey casks while others spent time in French oak Cognac casks. We're pretty certain you don't want to put this rum anywhere near a bottle of soda.
Usually, when you think of rum you probably wonder what you should mix it with.
Well with Zaya Gran Reserva Rum ($30), you can wonder no more. Zaya is a product of Trinidad and Tobago, distilled from sugar cane juice, and aged a minimum of 12 years in small, oak barrels. By the time it fills your glass the vanilla aromas and the taste bring a remarkable balance of sweetness with a small spicy kick. We set aside our preconceived notions about rum and after tasting this, and are glad we did.
Yes, it's exactly what you think it is. Hand crafted by 72-year old master distiller Francisco "Don Pancho" Fernandez, Ron de Jeremy Rum ($TBA) is a high-end dark rum that's oak aged for seven years, resulting in a rich, smooth flavor with hints of vanilla, sugarcane, fruit, and spices, and comes in a bottle with the Hedgehog's mug on the label. No word yet on whether it has any, ahem, "enhancing" properties. [Thanks, Dennis]
Apart from "the beast," we're generally fans of liquor named after monsters — and Kraken Black Spiced Rum ($22) is no exception. This upscale, but not crazy-expensive, spiced rum is a nice alternative to your normal well-residing rum, and comes in a handsome old-school jug-handled bottle adorned with a label that begs for a spot on the counter instead of being hidden in the cabinet.
Having made rum on St. Croix since 1760, Cruzan has built up centuries of distilling knowledge, and they've used all of it to create Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum ($65). A handcrafted blend of multiple different rums aged up to 12 years old, Single Barrel is blended and then aged further in a new charred oak barrel for another year, giving the libation a terrific golden brown color and smooth, complex taste with notes of pepper, wood, and caramel.
We're not actually pirates, but we do enjoy our rum. Made from fresh cut estate-grown blue cane, Depaz Blue Cane Rhum ($42) is quickly becoming one of our favorites. Selected as one of Wine Enthusiast's top 50 spirits of 2007, it's sure to lift your spirits following the grueling holiday gauntlet of food, family, and headaches.