Spoiler alert, everyone’s answer to this question is going to be different. It’s down to personal preference and palate, and with the descriptor ‘dark rum’ covering such a vast array of styles, it would be unfair to name one as best. What we can do is take a closer look at some of the most prominent dark rum-producing countries, and get a feel for the sort of characteristics you can expect. 

Before we get stuck in, we should try to define what dark rum is, which isn’t easy. If you’re really interested in the subject, read our Rum Guides . To cut a long story short, a dark rum might get its colour from oak ageing or from the addition of caramel or molasses, or a combination of the two. The colour of a rum can be deceptive. We will say no more. 

Let’s take a closer look at some rum-producing countries!



There are a number of highly regarded dark rums produced in Jamaica, that generally stand out for their heavy, robust, funky characteristics. Much of this flavour profile comes from the production process. Generous fermentation periods are used by distillers looking to achieve more complex creations, with natural yeasts encouraging the development of more esters that tend to bring bright, tropical, ripe fruit flavour. Traditional pot stills are renowned for producing bolder, full-bodied spirits, while dunder and muck, which are made up of highly pungent by-products from production and distillation that are allowed to decay and ferment, are sometimes used sparingly by distillers, somewhat like a seasoning, contributing to all that “funk” that everyone always talks about. Big and bold is what you can often expect here. 

Jamaican rum is protected by a geographical indication (GI), meaning that only water and caramel colouring may be added to rums aged in wood, but sugar for sweetening is not permitted. It’s also worth remembering spirits age differently in the tropical climate of countries like Jamaica with warmer temperatures heightening extraction, oxidation, concentration, and filtration. Essentially, the spirit and the wood will interact far quicker than you’d find with a whisky in Scotland, for example. 

Kill Devil - Jamaican rum Long Pond best dark rums

Long Pond 16 Year Old 2005 Jamaican Rum – Kill Devil (Hunter Laing)

Single cask bottlings from independent bottlers like Hunter Laing can be a great way to explore the style of rums from different producers. 

Myers’s Rum

A classic, versatile Jamaican rum, labelled ‘Original Dark’, this is a pretty good choice when it comes to dark rum. It’s brilliant mixed with Coke or ginger beer. 


Guyana’s rum production is strongly associated with the Demerara river region, which is why you’ll sometimes see it referred to as Demerara rum. Historically, the country had a number of distilleries producing vast amounts of rum, destined for the British Navy, and was renowned for producing rum with a rich, sweet, mouth-filling character that brings ideal balance to high ester rums from countries like Jamaica when blended. 

A particularly interesting feature of Guyanese rum is the array of unique, and historic stills that are used. Once the Navy stopped its daily rations, demand plummeted, and all but one of the country’s distilleries closed down. Just the Diamond distillery remained, operated by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). Thankfully, Diamond adopted an array of stills, salvaged from other closed distilleries, which remain in use today. These include the fascinating 18th-century Port Mourant double wooden pot still and the Versailles single wooden pot still. They give the rums a depth and complexity that modern stills can’t easily match. The Enmore wooden Coffey still is another old piece. These stills enable the distillery to make a unique and varied array of rum. 

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El Dorado 15 Year Old

Much of the rum produced by Diamond/DDL is destined for blends, including its own well known label, El Dorado. 

Diamond Distillery (Savalle Still) 18 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company)

There are also various independent bottlings on the market, showcasing fascinating spirit from the individual stills.


Home to the world’s oldest surviving commercial rum distillery, Mount Gay, which was founded in 1703, you’ll also find the legendary Foursquare distillery in Barbados. These distilleries tend to produce bright, fruity molasses-based rums using a combination of rich, full-bodied spirit from pot stills, and lighter, elegant spirit from column stills, aged in the tropical Barbados climate. 

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Doorly’s 14 Year Old Rum

Official distillery releases from Foursquare are fairly limited, highly sought after, and tend to fetch a pretty penny. I’d recommend keeping an eye out for independent bottlings, but my absolute top tip is to check out Doorly’s Rum range which is also produced at Foursquare. 

Mount Gay Discovery Gift Set 

This set includes a trio of aged rums from Mount Gay, so you can really get acquainted with the house style. 

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad is another country with a rich rum-making history, these days, the twin island country has just one distillery, Trinidad Distillers Limited, home of the Angostura brand, which you might know for its classic Bitters. There are also a range of rums from Angostura, produced on TDL’s continuous column stills before ageing in bourbon and American white oak barrels. 

There were once other distilleries in the region, namely the much revered Caroni, which was established on the site of an old sugar factory in 1923. Distilling with both pot and column stills, Caroni’s rums became notable for their distinct, heavy profile, and were supplied to the British Navy for its blends. Tragically, the distillery was obtained by Angostura, which closed it down for good in 2002. 

Best Dark rums Caroni 22

Caroni 20 Year Old (That Boutique-y Rum Company) 

Much revered and sought after by rum enthusiasts the world over, you’ll still find independent bottlings of Caroni on the market today, and if you’re ever presented with the chance to taste one, don’t pass it up. 

Angostura 15 Year Old “1787” Rum

Released in the latter half of 2016, Angostura’s 15 Year Old “1787” rum boasts a dark hue and massive flavour profile of dried fruit, toasted oak and robust spice. Ace Trinidadian rum that’s well-suited to sipping neat. The name refers to the date that the first sugar mill was established at the Lapeyrouse Estate.


You’ll find plenty of Central American countries producing rum, and they’re all worth exploring. Guatemala is home to Ron Zacapa, which distils from pressed sugar cane rather than molasses. After distillation, the rum is transported to higher, cooler climates for maturation. Ron Zacapa is known for using a solera system to age its rums. The solera is made up of a multitude of cask types including American white oak whiskey barrels, and European oak casks that previously held Cognac and sherry. First, it ages new make rum for a year and a half, then blends it with rums over six years old. This marriage is then aged for a further year and a half before being blended again with old reserved rums. That process is repeated four times until the initial new make rum is six years old. Some of the final blend is bottled, while the rest is used to replenish stock for future blends. These rums may be slightly sweetened, and are known for their soft texture and silky sweet profile. 

warming rums

Ron Zacapa Centenario Sistema Solera 23

Ron Zacapa best dark rums

Ron Zacapa Edición Negra

An excellent Guatemalan rum from Ron Zacapa, Edición Negra has been aged in a combination of double charred American oak bourbon barrels and Pedro Ximénez casks. The casks work in harmony, and you’ll find bold notes of oak char and brown sugar alongside lots of dark chocolate in this one.