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Uncover The Best Jamaican Rum For Every Cocktail And Occasion!

Learn about Caribbean rum with this ultimate guide to the best rum in Jamaica with a detailed list of the best rum brands and bottles for every drink.

Welcome to Jamaica's national beverage. That's right, rum is at the heart of Jamaican culture and heritage, and today we are going plunge into the depths of light and dark rum from Jamaica so that you can find the best rum for your sophisticated tastes.

This is an article that will teach you that if life gives you lemons, you should exchange them for a good glass of Jamaican rum. 

The origin of pirate rum

Rum is generally associated with pirates and even more so after movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and this has never been truer than with Jamaican rum. After all, one of the most well-known rums from Jamaica, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, has a pirate character right there on the bottle. So did pirates drink Jamaican rum? Yes, they did. 

Glass and bottle of pirate rum in Jamaica

But is there any pirate connection to the rum we drink today? Well, yes. Whilst pirates did not make the rum themselves, they were very avid drinkers and rum was the most readily available liquor in the Caribbean region at that time. What kind of rum did pirates drink then?

Well since they weren't the most sophisticated drinkers, pretty much anything they could find. This usually meant rum grog which is a combination of whatever rum they found with sugar, lime, and water. You can still buy pirate rum which is designed to mimic what the pirates of those times used to drink but now we also have a much wider and much more established selection of rum to choose from. 

What is the best Jamaican rum?

Whilst we can easily say that the best rum is the rum you enjoy most, there are some Jamaican rums that work better than others for different reasons. In the following list of subheadings, we are going to highlight some of the best Jamaican rum brands so that you can boost your knowledge on this licor type before you head to the island of rum.

The best Jamaican rum brands

First, let's establish quality. These are the 4 big rum brands in Jamaica that are known to bring out some of the best rums for all sorts of rum drinks

1) National Rums of Jamaica

If you are new to Jamaican rum, you might still be familiar with some of the different bottles associated with this big brand. This rum maker started in 1959, is owned by Maison Ferrand, a Jamaican sugar company, and Demerara distillers, and is the company that produces the following rum:

  • Captain Morgans
  • Port Royal
  • Monymusk
  • Royal Jamaican 
  • Smatt’s 
  • Myers

2) Appleton Estate rum

This brand was previously known as J Wray & Nephew and is now owned by Gruppo Campari. Their distilleries have been continuously providing us with delicious rum since 1749 making them the oldest continuous rum distillers in Jamaica. Here are the rums that they are known for:

  • Appleton
  • Wray & Nephew
  • J. Wray
  • Blackwell
  • Coruba
  • Charley’s JB
  • Edwin Charley
  • Conquering Lion

3) Hampden Estate rum

This brand is a family-owned business currently under the holding of the Husseys. Also known under the name Everglades Farms Limited, this brand has a long and interesting history going back to 1753, but rum has only been made by them since 2010. Their signature rums include:

  • Hampden Estate 
  • Hampden Gold
  • Rum Fire

4) Worthy Park Estate rum

Owned by the Clarke family, their distilleries started way back in 1741. This makes them the oldest rum makers in Jamaica, but they did stop production for a few decades which is why they don't hold the title of longest-running rum makers. Their rum brands are the following:

  • Worthy Park
  • Rum-Bar

Our top selections of the best rums in Jamaica

Now we get to the really fun bit. Our list of rum selections is based on each use and setting. Whether you want a great rum mixer or something that will knock your socks off, this list will give you some great rum selections for your next tasting tour. 

Note that personal preference may mean that you have other favorites but these are definitely some other rums that you should also try in addition to your most loved Jamaican rums. 

Glass full of dark rum in Jamaica
  • What is the best rum in Jamaica?

Whilst there are iconic bottles like the Appleton Estate 17-year-old legend, the Dunderhead Rum, and the bottles from over 50 or 100 years ago, the best buyable rum in Jamaica is one that constantly gets repeated on all the top 10 lists. It is also one that is frequently mentioned in rum-tasting tours by rum connoisseurs. 

The best rum in Jamaica is the award-winning Appleton Estate 12 year. It's versatile, it's popular, it's aged to perfection, and it's just an overall delight to drink. 

  • What is the strongest Jamaican rum?

Jamaica is famous for its overproof rums that go above and beyond the percentage mark. These are licors for the bold, and the brave, and should be handled with caution.  Here are the strongest rums of Jamaica in order of ABV percentage.

  1. 86.2%: Rom Deluxe Wild Series No. 17 from Hampden Estate 
  2. 85.6%: L’Esprit Still Strength 2019 Unaged White Rum by Worthy Park Estate 
  3. 75.5%: Cut Overproof Spiced Rum (blended with rum from Trinidad)
  4. 75.5%: Appleton 151 Proof Jamaica Rum by Appleton Estate
  5. 74.8%: Plantation Extreme Number 4 by National Rums of Jamaica
  • What is the best rum for Mojitos?

A lot of experienced bartenders love using Hampden Estate Rum Fire rum since it is a flavorful white rum creation with a higher alcohol content than most (63%) making it easy to make a great mojito even with a smaller shot. This can make the drink flavors clearer and allow for better carbonation of the cocktail. 

The best rum for mojitos sitting on the bar
  • What is the best rum for rum and coke?

Cocal cola is undoubtedly the best rum mixer there ever was. But which rum goes best in your Cuba Libre? Everyone has their preference whether it be white rum, dark rum, spiced rum, or a golden rum. Personally, I think that the best Rum and coke combination is one that brings out the dark flavors of your soda. 

My recommendation would be to use Captain Morgan's original spiced rum which is often available but if you can find it, Myers dark rum is the superior choice.   

  • What is the best rum for Piña Coladas?

Many experts might recommend something like the Appleton Estate 8-year reserve, however, a Hogo rum brings a lot more fun and flavor to your Piña Colada. What is a hogo rum you ask? It's a special quality of rum only found in Jamaica where the dunder is used to inspire more flavor similar to what sour mash does with whisky. 

This results in earthy and what they call “Funk” tastes. The top rum option for a Piña Colada would therefore be the delightful hogo rum and funk rum. I would recommend Smith and Cross Jamaican rum for its old-timey flavors but since it is not technically made in Jamaica, my go-to option would be Dunderhead Caribbean rum.

Person on the beach holding the best rum for piña coladas

Enjoy a rum tour in Jamaica

Once upon a time, there were hundreds of incredible Jamaican rum distilleries scattered about the island. Over time, however, these have whittled down to just the following six existing rum distilleries. 

  1. Appleton Estate
  2. Hampden Estate 
  3. Innswood 
  4. Clarendon 
  5. Long Pond 
  6. Worthy Park Estate

Unfortunately, however, not all of these distilleries let tourists explore their rumtastic experiences. Not to worry, we have checked them out and highlighted which ones you can visit for a Jamaican rum tour…

Appleton Estate rum tour

  • Tour location: St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
  • Tour quality: They are the first distiller to offer a rum tour in Jamaica making it a well-refined well-working tour experience. It's smooth from start to finish. 
  • Tour duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Tour tip: Make sure you try their Jamaican rum punch and some of their 12-year Appleton rum. It is absolutely lovely—contact Seasons Tours to book this tour right away. 

Worthy Park Estate rum tour

  • Tour location: St. Catherine, Jamaica
  • Tour quality: Since they have only been doing tours since 2019, the rum tours are not quite as seamless as some of the others. However, the rum is still amazing!
  • Tour duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Tour tip: Try to reserve the tour in advance since they do not accept last-minute walk-ins, and don't miss out on trying their wonderful Jamaican rum cream.

Hampden Estate rum tour

  • Tour location: Trelawny, Jamaica
  • Tour quality: The most interactive and personal rum tour you can take. With less crowds and more direct attention from the staff, it's more intimate and exclusive. 
  • Tour duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Tour tip: The rum punch here is worth every sip. Make sure you enjoy it to the full but save some space for the rum tasting at the end.  

Enjoy Jamaican rum in your resort!

Whilst a rum tour is great if you want to plan a day out and see the history and origins behind each bottle's creation, you do not actually need to go very far to try some amazing Jamaican rum.

Yes, even in your resort, you are sure to find a wonderful selection of Jamaican rum brands for you to choose from. Better yet, they are right on the doorstep of your accommodations, and they are part of the All Inclusive package so there is no extra cost. 

Group of friends drinking Jamaican rum in Excellence Oyster Bay

Top Tip: If staying in Excellence Oyster Bay, look for the Appleton Estate 12-year rum in the Excellence Club lounge along with the Rum coffee alexander and the Appleton Estate signature cocktail. Additionally, if ordering a rum cocktail, make sure you tell the bartender which white or dark rum you would like them to use so that you can maximize the mixology to your preferences. 

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and plan your next visit to Jamaica so you can try some of the best Jamaican rum in the heart of the Caribbean. 

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