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Top Ten Rums (you should avoid)!

We’ve all been seduced by that glittering rum bottle on the store shelf.  It looks so pretty, what’s inside must be great.

Or…  maybe it just looks that way!



My writings on this website are primarily to help my readers chose better spirits when making that purchase decision. To that end I thought I should publish my first warning list. These are the purchase decisions you want to avoid. Those sugar-cane based spirits which will help to empty your wallet, but will leave little in the way of reward. I expect this list to be somewhat controversial, and if I slight one of your favourites please chime in with a comment to defend your rum of choice. But having said that, I must confess, that these are anything but my rums of choice. These are my regrets, and I publish this list in hopes that I can help you avoid a regret or two.

And so without further adieu, here are…the top ten Rums you should avoid. The ones that weren’t pretty…  they just looked that way!


10)  Rhum Clement X.O.

The Website calls it Rhum Perfection, but I’ve had three separate occasions to sample the Rhum Clement. Each time I was left scratching my head. This is dry and bitter with a finish that seems take more from you than it gives. In my locale it is also upwards of $100.00 a bottle.  It’s more the price than the flavour that makes this rhum number 10 on my list.

9)   Bacardi Arctic Grape

This is a strange one. I tasted it in Miami at the top of the Bacardi Building at the company’s private penthouse bar. I of course was intrigued by the name, Arctic Grape. It was good that Bacardi had jumped on the Arctic bandwagon. Until I tasted it. All the intrigue was gone, and I was quietly looking for a sink.

8)  Rhum Kuracera

I tried this Rhum about a year and a half ago, and it just seemed to miss every mark with me. I tried adding cola and let me tell you, that was that a mistake. The drink frothed up and became even worse tasting.  Maybe someone else knows what I was supposed to do with this one.

7)  Renegade Rum Company 2000 Jamaica Rum

This Renegade Rum left my palate dazed & confused.  I found this quote on the Bruichladdich website which pertains to all of their aritsan rums,

“We expect these to be savoured on their own, with a dash of water as an aperitif, or even as a lighter digestif, or enjoy with a cigar. Mix them only if you must!”

I guess I fall into the category of those who ‘must’. And at over $80.00 a bottle this is definitely one to avoid.

6)  Sx Samba (liquor de Cana)

SX Samba is a cachaca-style rum made from sugar cane and flavoured with limes  and vanilla.  If you go to the website and have a look you will see bottle is downright sexy, the Sx Samba however, is downright nasty.

5)  SX Calypso (licor de Ron)

SX Calypso is advertised as a pale gold liquid with delicate hints of fresh lemon and green mint. I tasted this concoction at Rum Renaissance  2011 as part of my judging duties. I am hoping to avoid that tasting duty next year.

4)   Bacardi Razz

I tasted over 100 rums at Rum Renaissance last year as part of my duties as a Rum XP Judge.  Of all the spirits I tasted this one hurt me the most! I do  not know what the company was thinking when they came up with this raspberry flavoured monstrosity, but whatever wave length they were on, I am on the opposite.

3)  Captain Morgan Private Stock

When I first tasted this one I thought I quite liked it. But soon the vanilla began to fight back. In waves and waves it came, and came, and came at me.  By the time I had sampled this rum three times I had pretty much given up. This rum more than any is responsible for my fear of vanilla flavoured rums.

2) Spiced Jack No. 94

I like overproof spirits. When you have a great rum or whisky and you concentrate the flavours more it always leads to a wonderful experience. But if you take a mediocre spirit, and concentrate flavours that never should have existed in the first place….

1)  Appleton Estate 30 Year Old Rum

I had such high hopes for this rum when I bought two of them.  Oh what wonderful things I could have done with that money. Simply put I consider this Appleton to be a broken, over oaked spirit. Now maybe, if it had only cost me $100.00 per bottle this rum might not have made the list. But, at over $300.00 per bottle, it is easily the worst rum purchase I have ever made.


And there you have it, the ten rums that I recommend that you avoid. I hope this list is fun, and I hope that you disagree with a selection or two of mine. Because, when all is said and done, it really  is all about personal taste, and I would hate to think that I would have the last word on your personal taste!

21 Responses to “Top Ten Rums (you should avoid)!”

  1. Nat said

    Who on earth would take a good Jamaican rum and ruin it with vanilla, my daughter brought me a bottle of Morgan’s spiced rum about three years ago, I love rum, but this bottle is still there with about three small glasses out of it, a bottle of ordinary rum would not get past 2 weeks, yuk, terrible.

  2. matt said

    Haha I remember bacardi artic grape! its enjoyable if you mix it with 3 parts diet pepsi to 1 part bacardi. Its only good for getting drunk, not something to savor at all. I do have to add that my girlfriend absolutely hated it with a passion, whereas I loved grape soda as a child.

  3. Ben said

    Hi Chip, I just wanted to add some weight on your evaluation of the Private Stock. I think it is terrible. Granted i’m not a vanilla fan, but this one is so bad that since tasting it, anything remotely vanilla, like Angostura 1919, Zaya, or Angostura 1824, went down my favorite list. It’s like they mixed an ordinary rum with a bottle of vanilla extract.

    • Wow, that is so similar to my initial impression. Like you I found rums like Zaya with a firm vanilla flavour unfortunately moved down my list too.

  4. Henry said

    I enjoy your blog very much and always find something interesting to try. Steer clear of the Ron Rico, even as a mixer it has a sour taste that you just can’t get out of your mouth (makes me want to wash it out with soap!) It was a “pick of the week” at a local shop and I should have treated that like “as seen on TV.” As for your take on the Captain Morgan Reserve, I totally agree, which is ironic because on of the first rums I tried was Captain Morgan. Now my go to is Plantation 5 year which I can get for $15 a bottle! Way better than any Captain’s rum either neat or mixed. Cheers!!

  5. mitch said

    Appleton 30 is nice. But not 8 or 6 or even 4 times as good as the “Extra” 12. Just my taste. Yours may very.

    • That’s the beauty of it, tastes do vary. However like you, I really dig the Appleton 12! The Master Blenders Legacy though is my favourite Appleton, and do you know what, at its heart is the the 30 year old Appleton which I despise. Go Figure 🙂

  6. Stefan said

    I have read a lot about rums on different sites to avoid buying bad stuff. As stated above taste is an individual thing and some bottles i have bought have been disappointments due to high expectations others have been more or less undrinkable. All in all I have not bought many bottles that are real bad. Some are better than others but that is how taste works. My own worst experiences so far are as follows, two disappointments and two truly horrible beverages:

    MGXO, not that it’s all that bad but because I had so high expectations for it. If there is one rum everybody agrees on being “best”, this must be it. There is something about it that I don’t like at all. I can drink one shot of it and find things I like in it but in the end it’s not for me.

    Appleton 21 year old, this is also more about disappointment than bad booze. It had too much alcoholic bite for a rum of this age, specially if we consider tropical aging too. The aftertaste was nice though. I bought a shot in a bar (25$…) but will definitely not buy a bottle for the kind of money it costs…

    Pyrat XO – now we are getting in to the horrible stuff. The two first ones are mild disappointments and should not be compared with this disaster. This can probably be used instead of Triple Sec in a Margarita. It’s closer to orange liqueur than rum. I don’t know what they did to this rum in the distillery but it should be out lawed!

    Caribana Del Sol Spiced Rum – this is a terrible vanilla concoction. I can’t drink it neat, with ice or ginger ale. My thoughtful wife bought it for me in a tax free shop, I never knew the true depth of her hate for me… What do you mix with vanilla booze to make a decent drink?

    • Hi Stephan

      Nice to see you here on my blog!

      I agree with your comments with respect to Appleton 21, and MGXO. I was probably more disappointed with the Appleton 21, and it costs about double the MGXO. (Having said that I will admit that the Mount Gay taste is beginning to grow on me.) I don’t mind Pyrat XO, having had it a couple of times but you are right about that orange taste. I actually like it but I can certainly see where it would ruin a bottle for someone who does not. I haven’t tasted the Caribana de Sol Spiced Rum, but spiced rums are a real mixed bag. I find even some that I originally like a lot like Voodoo Rum have grown old on me in a hurry. Right now I am liking the Cruzan 9 and the George Street Spiced a lot, but i have friends who dislike both of them.


  7. I’ve followed your recommendations for about a year now and I’ve made a few of them, like Juan Santos 5 year, Diplomatico Reserva, and El Dorado 3yr white, permanent members of my liquor cabinet. Obviously not everyone is going to like the same things, but I quite like the Captain Morgain’s Private Stock. Of course, I love vanilla so that definitely has something to do with it. I think the Rum that I disliked the most was Old Monk from India and was very surprised to find it on the list of Golden Rum Barrel winners last year.

    Meh, different strokes I guess…

    • I was actually part of the panel that nominated rums for the Golden Rum Barrel awards, but I cannot recall a single one of my recommendations making it to the final awards. The rums chosen for awards had me scratching my head; but that’s the way it is with these kinds of award panels (or lists like mine). Haven’t tried Old Monk, but I have heard mixed things. Probably means it has a unique flavour profile that catches people off guard the first time they try it.

      From the sounds of it you have some pretty nice rums in your permanent bar, I am glad i could help you there.

  8. Oh yeah, I forgot. I really disliked Doorly’s, and will never lighten my wallet for it again…I notice you liked it quite a bit, so chalk up another one to the difference in palates.

    • Okay we’ve got the makings of a trade here, You find 300 bucks worth of stuff I like that you don’t, and I already have my 300 bucks of stuff you like that I don’t….

  9. Love the list and idea! However, I actually like the Appleton 30 quite a bit and didn’t think it was over oaked. I wish I had my bottle with me here in Glasgow, but I left it in storage back in the States. If I remember my tastings of it, I felt like you could taste the world of rum in it and, as you know (and as your list points out), not every aspect of the rum world is divine, but I thought they kept the harsher aspects of it to a subtle background. There is the harsh burn all the way to the sweet caramel and molasses to the fruits of the Caribbean. I thought it was well balanced and there were delicate aspects of it that kept me coming back for more. My tasting notes do not even include mention of oak so I must not have noticed it. It was in fact the rum I was sipping on my last day before I moved to Europe as a celebration of finishing packing and as I sadly packed up the rest of my spirits for storage. As Ruminsky says, to each his own and, I’ll gladly take that bottle off of you. 🙂

    I also agree with Ruminsky on the Private Stock. When I was going through a sweet tooth stage of rum, this was decent enough. I’ll have to revisit it to see if the vanilla is overpowering. Perhaps they changed the formula between when we tasted it and when you did. If over Vanilla is a problem though, what about the formula of Sailor Jerry from about 2 years ago? If Captain Morgan makes the list, their Tattoo is one of the worst “rums” I have ever tasted.

    Top 10 lists are always fun and controversial. Love it. Thanks!

    • Thanks John

      When I first tasted the Appleton 30, it was with my Rum Club at Christmas time. The Club had bought a bottle as our Christmas treat. About 15 drams were poured out and in the room only 2 persons thought ‘it wasn’t bad’. The rest of us all tasted that sharp oak sap that permeates this rum. Odds of a bad bottle are practically negligible in such a limited edition run, but just to be sure I opened one of my bottles for my review which was posted about a year ago. But here and there, especially amongst what I would call the aficionados and connoisseurs, I find persons who absolutely love the taste of the Appleton 30. So I have concluded that you either love that sharp oak tannin the rum displays or like me you dislike it. If you dislike it, then $300.00 plus per bottle is terrible. (If we ever meet up John, I will give you a dram of my open Appleton 30, and we’ll even invite Ruminsky to join us as well as he lives nearby.)

      Private Stock is probably my own private little hell that has been created in my mind. I tasted it once and liked it so much I bought two bottles. about a quarter of the way down the first bottle I hated it so much I gave them both away. I hate that I was duped when I initially tasted it and this probably carries more dislike in my mind than the bottle deserves. But, when one does these lists they often are more a matter of emotion than of science. (They are more fun that way at least.)

      Thanks for the wonderful commentary John.

      • That makes sense, Chip, because, going back to the Private Stock after a year’s worth of additional experience, I still think it is an excellent sipper’s intro, but not quite as good as I wrote about in my first review. Perhaps my appreciation of >40% strength rums (Favell’s, AD Rattray’s Caroni, to name two) has something to do with that.

      • Sounds like a solid plan Wolf. I would love to sit down with you for some tastings. I can bring a few nifty things as well. I will be flying back to the States in a couple of weeks and I will have to stop by my storage and pull out my Appleton 30 and have a pour. Until then, Slainte Mhath!

  10. rus said

    lol…very funny stuff ..thanx for the bright humour..can i add some others? rus

    • Rus

      I am glad you appreciated the lighthearted humour which was intended with the posting. And by all means add a few of your recommendations to the avoidance list.

  11. Well, Chip, you’ve certainly tasted a whole lot more than I have (although I’m sure I have my own supply of dogs). I only have contrary opinions and comments on three of the ones you list here (and have only tasted four, which says a lot about my collection, ha ha):

    1. I think the Captain Morgan private stock, at $40, may be a good introduction to sipping rums because of its good body and overall smoothness. Sure it goes a little heavy on the vanilla, but not overly so, and as a starter into rums that don’t need to be mixed, it ain’t half bad.

    2. Mixed feelings on the Clement. I keep going back to the thing because after warming up and opening up, it just has that central core of burning sugar cane fields that for me is extraordinarily evocative. Plus, I noted no such bitterness as you describe – I merely think it may not be sweet enough. Still, at $126 over here, I too have my doubts whether I want to refresh my emptying stock.

    3. Appleton. Well, I liked this one, what can I say. Here it comes down to opinion. Since you dislike it so much, I’ll make the sacrifice and take it off your hands 🙂

    4. Just looked up my tasting notes and review on liquorature, and realize that I agree with the Renegade Jamaica, so we seem to be on the same page on this one.

    And I can’t help but squawk: where the hell is the Pyrat’s on this list?

    All the best


    • Hi Lance

      1) Captain Morgan is one of my best friends favourite rums, and if you like lots of Vanilla, it is everything you say it is. But at $40.00 for an introductory sipper. Give me El Dorado 12 in a heartbeat. (And I always hated that Vanilla Coke so why would a Vanilla Rum be any different.)

      2) The Clement was the last one to add on to the list, I had a few other candidates, and I don’t want persons to feel that I think it is one of the worst rums out there, it is just one of the worst deals at that 126 bucks. . You might be right about it being more a matter of a lack of sweetness that an abundance of bitterness. But the bitter is there too.

      3) Appleton 30. If you want to recompense my wallet I would gladly get you a bottle.

      4) Apparently the Renegades that were finished in reused dry white wine casks were bottled for very selected palates.

      Cheers Lance and thanks for the thoughtful comments!

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