On National Rum Day, a certain—though often forgotten—truth bears repeating: Rum isn’t just an ingredient for cocktails.
While there’s nothing wrong with a pina colada or daiquiri, today is the day to let it fly solo. Here are five rums worth trying neat as you celebrate this oh-so-important holiday (and, of course, you can still make one hell of a mixed drink these):
1. Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum – This seven-year old blended rum is remarkably smooth with a nice mix of molasses and vanilla. It has a warm, but not firey, finish that will briefly whisk you away to the West Indies.
2. Mount Gay XO – Mount Gay is a familiar name in liquor stores, but this XO version blends rums ranging from 8 years old to 15. You’ll get banana notes atop the molasses and a light spice to it, as well.
3. Appleton Estate 21 year – Jamaica’s Appleton rums are a great go-to when making cocktails, but the 21-year is meant for sipping. A blend of rums, each at least 21 years in the making, you’ll pick up some orange and cocoa in your sip. A few drops of water or a cube of ice can help those flavors stand out further.
4. Plantation 20th Anniversary – A Barbados creation, this rum was aged normally, then further aged in Cognac casks, adding notes of caramel and dried spice. It was made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its producer – Maison Ferrand.
5. Ron de Jeremy – Sometimes, you need a good conversation starter when having a drink with friends. Ron de Jeremy is that rum. The face of the world’s most famous porn star stares at you as you question your life choices in picking this, of all possible rums. Here’s the thing, though. It’s actually quite tasty. Made in Panama (and, yes, endorsed by the Hedgehog, but he’s otherwise hands off in the process), it’s not overly sweet, but offers fruit notes and a fair bit of spice. You might think, based on the bottle, that it’d be awful, but it actually measures up.