There’s a common misconception with white rum that the popular sugarcane-based spirit is un-aged and goes from the still directly into the bottle. While this is sometimes true, it’s not a guarantee. Many white rums are matured between one and two years with a few matured even longer.
Regardless of its age, there are countless bargain white rums on the market. While some lower quality rums more resemble rubbing alcohol than drinkable alcohol, there are a surprising number of mixable and (sometimes) sippable, value rums on the market. A well-made white rum might have flavors like coconut, tropical fruits, vanilla, banana, gentle spices, and even sugarcane itself. All with a gentle, warm, dry finish.
The best part? There are many white rums that fit this criterion for less than $25.
To prove it, I once again turned to the tried and true blind taste test. I picked eight bargain-priced white rums and nosed, tasted, and ranked each based on the total flavor profile, balance, and drinkability. Keep scrolling to see how everything turned out.
- Havana Club Anejo Blanco
- Captain Morgan White Rum
- The Real McCoy Three Year
- Bayou White Rum
- George Ocean White Rum
- Don Q Cristal Rum
- Wray & Nephew White
- Bacardi Superior
Part 1: White Rums Under $25 Blind Tasting
Vanilla, dried fruits, toffee, and light spices are notable on the nose. The palate has a lot of vanilla, banana, and some fruits. It has a decent palate and a good amount of warming heat at the finish.
Not the most exciting rum, but not the least either.
The nose has some vanilla and fruit, but not much else. The palate has a little more tropical fruit, but it’s very muted. Overall, there aren’t many discernable flavors as it has a lot of mineral flavors and almost harsh heat.
Definitely not a rum I’d prefer to drink neat ever again.
Complex aromas of vanilla beans, pineapple, butterscotch, and floral notes make for an inviting nose. On the palate, you’ll find hints of toffee, vanilla, caramelized pineapple, and light spices.
The finish is dry, warming, and leaves you wanting more.
The nose is very sweet with a ton of vanilla and tropical fruit scents. Sipping it reveals that it’s a bit of a one (or two) trick pony. There’s more Vanilla, pineapple, and not much else. Fairly one-dimensional and unexciting. The ending is also fairly harsh with the burn.
This rum smells more like vodka than rum. There are light aromas of coconut and vanilla. Otherwise, the nose is pretty boring and unexciting. The palate continues this trend. There are some light spices, more vanilla, and tropical fruit. Overall, any notable flavors are squashed by the uncomfortable heat at the finish.
The nose is filled with vanilla, light spices, grass, and floral aromas. Drinking it reveals notes of toasted vanilla beans, light smoke, pepper, caramel, chocolate, and Cinnamon. The finish is warming, dry, and gently spicy.
Overall, a surprisingly complex white rum.
There’s a lot of booze on the nose. But there are still notes of molasses cookies, banana, coconut, and vanilla. The palate is very hot, but still has flavors like pineapple, coconut, vanilla, bananas, molasses, and spices. It ends even more warming. This is a complex rum that’s a great choice for the base of your favorite mixed drink. The only downfall is the massive, burning heat throughout.
A lot is going on with this rum’s nose. There are a ton of tropical fruit, vanilla, and floral notes. The palate continues this trend with notes of ripe berries, vanilla, pineapple, banana, and gentle spices. The finish is long, sweet, and warm. It’s definitely a rum that will bring your mixed drinks to new dimensions.
Part 2: The Rankings
8) Bacardi Superior (Taste 2)
Average Price: $14
There are very few names in the rum world more famous than Bacardi. Its Bacardi Superior is one of the best bargains. First released in 1862 by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó introduced, this favorite of bartenders is known for its fruity, mixable flavor profile.
Bacardi Superior is a rum made for mixing. I strongly suggest that’s the only thing you use it for. Sipping it neat isn’t a great idea.
7) Captain Morgan White Rum (Taste 5)
Average Price: $12
We all know Captain Morgan, the rum is adorned with an elegantly-dressed pirate with his one leg resting on a treasure chest. Its white rum is known for its crisp, clean flavor profile. It’s not meant to be a full-flavored sipping rum. It’s supposed to be mixed with.
Not surprisingly, Captain Morgan White Rum doesn’t rate well plain. It’s not the kind of bottle you’d see in a store and want to pick up to sip so… why would you? Buy it for mixing or don’t buy it at all.
6) George Ocean White Rum (Taste 4)
Average Price: $15
This white rum from the West Indies is a great value rum. It’s known for its clean, crisp, mellow, sweet flavor profile. It’s not overly complex, but it’s balanced and perfect for mixing.
This is the kind of very cheap white rum that you buy exclusively for mixing. It’s not an abrasively harsh rum, just not one you’d want to taste on its own.
5) Wray & Nephew White (Taste 7)
Average Price: $21
While many of the rums selected for this blind taste test are 80 proof, Wray & Nephew clocks in at a ridiculous 126 proof. This high-proof rum is known for its complex palate that stands up well in the most flavorful cocktails. It’s definitely not known as a sipping rum though.
For such a high-proof rum, it was surprising to find so many aromas and flavors. Still, this rum should be mixed exclusively because of its high alcohol content. It’s pretty harsh.
4) Bayou White Rum (Taste 1)
Average Price: $21
You might not think of the US when you think of rum, but Bayou Rum was made in Louisiana. Made with locally grown and sourced sugarcane, this pot still distilled rum rested for as long as forty days. This creates a clean, smooth, very mixable spirit.
This white rum from Bayou Rum is surprisingly complex and flavorful. It’s not the most exciting rum in the world, but one that hits the mark for less than $25.
3) The Real McCoy Three Year (Taste 8)
Average Price: $20
Produced at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, The Real McCoy Three Year is named for prohibition-era rum runner Bill McCoy. It’s matured for three years and then filtered through charcoal to remove the color. It doesn’t remove any of the flavor imparted by the wood though.
As white rums go, The Real McCoy Three Year is not only a great mixing rum, but also a great sipper as well. It’s complex and balanced enough to enjoy on the rocks on a cool evening.
2) Don Q Cristal Rum (Taste 6)
Average Price: $11
This clean, clear, flavorful rum was matured between one and a half and five years in American oak barrels. It’s then filtered through charcoal to remove the color. This doesn’t remove any of the smooth, easy-drinking flavor though. It’s sweet, fruity, and memorable.
If you’re looking for a bargain rum to always have on hand for mixing, you can do much worse than Don Q Cristal Rum. It was cheaper than it has any right to be.
1) Havana Club Anejo Blanco (Taste 3)
Average Price: $20
It might be confusing since there are two different Havana Club rum brands. This version is made in Puerto Rico and “aged in exile” using the original recipe from 1934. It’s double-aged to create a mellow, sippable, mixable white rum. First for one year in oak before it’s blended and filtered and then aged for two more months.
While this isn’t an ideal sipping rum. That’s not the point of this exercise. It has the flavors that make it a decent sipper and it shines as a mixing rum.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
It’s clear from this blind taste test that, when it comes to sipping white rum mellow is key. While I enjoyed rums with complex, balanced flavor profiles, the rums that fared poorly were harsh and had too much heat. Rums that were smooth, warming, but not too aggressively hot won the day.