The 2012 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums
This year, when I was deliberating over my 2012 Rum Howler Awards, it occurred to me that the line-up of rum which I had tasted over the past year was impressive. When I further considered all the rums I had tasted since I opened this website, I realized this was indeed an impressive amount of rum that I have tasted and scored. Adding it all up, I have tasting and scoring notes for over 300 rums which I have had the privilege of sampling over the past four years. (Note: In addition to the nearly 175 rum reviews I have published on this site, I also have tasting notes and scores compiled for over 125 more rums which I encountered at various festivals and judging events which I have attended.) This gives me a broad perspective on the world of rum. And perhaps, all this rum tasting and scoring gives me at least some of the qualifications to embark on a very particular quest to uncover and list the Best Rums in the World.
With this in mind, I made a decision a few months ago to compile a list of rums which would be suitable to taste side by side as part of this search. I began by examining my own Rum Reviews. Then, I referred to all of my scoring notes from those festivals and judging events I have attended to account for those rums which have not been reviewed upon my website. I compiled my list of the top rums I had tasted, and I set about obtaining sample bottles of each of them to determine which was the best. Obtaining the required samples turned out to be easier than I anticipated. For one thing, many of the rums on my list were already in my possession (or the possession of good friends who wanted to help). As well, when members of industry found out what I was doing, they immediately stepped forward with most of the additional samples I needed. (I did have to purchase two bottles on my own.)
I required a simple process to complete the task at hand, so I chose three friends whose palates I trusted, and over the course of a few weeks we tasted the very best rum the world has to offer. I served the rum in 10 flights of 5 rums each, generally doing 2 flights each time we met for judging. We scored each rum based solely upon taste, served at room temperature, using the following criteria:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
So you see, I began with a list of about 300 rums; I whittled the list down to 50 of the very best; and then through my judging process, I determined the top 30. I think you will find some surprises on the list; as well, you will discover some notable rums did not make the cut.
And so it is that I finally come to the point, here is the final list. The 2012 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums (as judged by my friends and I). In brackets beside each rum is the Average Score each rum received in the compettion)
30) Cruzan Single Barrel Rum (Judges Average score = 88.5)
29) Panama Red 108 Overproof Rum (Judges Average score = 88.75)
28) Santa Teresa 1796 Antiguo de Solera (Judges Average score = 89)
27) El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve Rum (Judges Average score = 89.5)
26) Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve (Judges Average score = 89.75)
25) Rhum Barbancourt 15 Year Old Estate Reserve (Judges Average score = 90)
24) Ron Bermudez Anniversario (Judges Average score = 90.5)
23) Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Year Old Rum (Judges Average score = 90.75)
22) Dictador XO Perpetual (Judges Average score = 91)
21) Havana Club Selección de Maestros (Judges Average score = 91.25)
20) Zaya Gran Reserva (Judges Average score = 91.5)
19) 5 Barrel Rum (Travellers) (Judges Average score = 91.75)
18) Dictador 20 Year Old Solera Rum (Judges Average score = 92)
17) El Dorado 25 Year Old Vintage Reserve Rum (Judges Average score = 92.25)
16) Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old Rum (Judges Average score = 92.5)
15) Dictador 12 Year Aged Solera Rum (Judges Average score = 92.75)
14) Cubaney Ron Tesero Grand Reserve 25 Year Soleras Rum (Judges Average score = 92.75)
13) Rum Nation Panama (Aged 21 years) (Judges Average score = 93)
12) Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Barbados Rum (Judges Average score = 93)
11) Ron Millonario Solero 15 Reserva Especial Rum (Judges Average score = 93.75)
10) Juan Santos 21 Year Antigua Reserva Rum (Judges Average score = 93.75)
09) Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy (Judges Average score = 93.75)
08) Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo Rum (Judges Average score = 94)
07) Panamonte Reserva XXV (25 Year Old Rum) (Judges Average score = 94)
06) Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solero) (Judges Average score = 94.25)
05) El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve Rum (Judges Average score = 94.5)
04) Ron Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum (Judges Average score =95)
03) El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve Rum (Judges Average score = 95)
02) Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva (Judges Average score = 95.25)
01) Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum (Judges Average score = 95.5)
Note: Hera are a few other fun (and more current) Countdown lists:
- The Rum Howler 2014 – Top 25 Rums
- The Rum Howler 2014 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies
- The Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge
- The 12 Cognacs of Christmas