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Need recommendations for a good gold and /or dark rum for mixing

Looking for some ideas on a gold and/or dark rum for mixing in cocktails....nothing too cheap, and nothing too pricey.....just a good tasting rum that works well for mixing. ( I'd rather go a bit higher end then go cheap if there aren't any mid-priced suggestions)

Saw some people recommend Rhum Barbancourt 8 yr, Mount Gay Extra Old, Appleton Reserve......curious if I should choose one of these or something else

Im in PA so some limitations on what's available but do have access to Delaware stores too

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  1. Mt Gay XO would be an unnecessarily expensive mixer, hard to find for under $40, there are many excellent choices for under $20, including Mt Gay Eclipse.

    Looking over the list on the PA LCB site I see Appleton Special and V/X both under $20, I have a bottle of the special and it is excellent for the money.

    Goslings Black seal is always a good dark mixer, as is Myers dark (the ones above are gold rums).

    if you are lucky enough to find the Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva on closeout for $19 BUY IT.

    The Barbancourt 5 star is a great choice but keep in mind it is a cane juice rum and is going to have a little different flavor, but it is excellent.

    I don't see it in PA but my new favorite dark rum for the money is El Dorado 12 yr which is available in the Atlanta area for $20 but usually a little more. Flor De Cana 4 yr is also good but I didn't see it on the PA list. (I was only looking at ones in regular inventory)

    Check out these comparisons:




    2 Replies
      1. re: ncyankee101

        Grabbed a bottle of Mastusalem yesterday ($19.99) and a bottle of Barbancourt 5 star :)

      2. For dark rums, my two favorites are Appleton Extra and Coruba. The Appleton is woodier and more expensive, and also easier to find and makes a good sipper as well.

        For golds, Appleton V/X is one of my go-tos as is Barbancourt 8. The Barbancourt is a bit smoother and more subtle. You might also want to check out a Demerara as ncyankee suggested, or Flor de Cana 5 or 7. You might also want to check out this rundown of rums on the Kaiser Penguin site: http://www.kaiserpenguin.com/10-rums-...

        3 Replies
        1. re: nickls

          I can't believe that not one of the experts cited in that article mentioned Pusser's (which along with ED 12 are my favorites), but then I guess it has fallen out of favor with all the bad publicity over the lawsuit. I didn't mention it because it is on the special orders list for PA. I will never be without a bottle of Pusser's.

          1. re: ncyankee101

            Pusser's is one I've been meaning to try, but my limited size liquor cabinet is already overstocked with rums as I've been mixing my way through some of Jeff Berry's books. From what I hear Pusser's is one of those love it or hate it types.

            The article I cited was well before the trademark dustup, and several people did mention it in the comments.

            1. re: nickls

              I haven't heard too many people who have a taste for stronger dark rums who hated Pusser's, in fact my girlfriend who doesn't generally like liquor neat drank some and didn't mind it. It really is easier to drink neat that many other dark rums I have had, despite being more flavorful than most.

        2. In the under $20 category, I would recommend:

          • Appleton V/X - mentioned already, but this is a superb Jamaican rum (not as funky as most Jamaicans) for a great price.
          • Lemonhart 80 - Not sure if the price went up, but it is a good demerara rum that we used to get for $18 (had distribution problems and is coming back to various markets)
          • El Dorado 8 Year - another good demerara rum, replaced the 5 year.
          • Old Monk - a solid dark Indian rum infused with a little vanilla. We used to be able to buy it for $17. It went through some distribution problems and is back although I am not sure of the price.
          • Kraken - one of the better spiced rums in this price range.
          • Flor de Caña - mentioned above. I prefer their white 4 year, but their amber one is good too.
          • Don Q - a decent Puerto Rican rum for 2/3rds the price of Bacardi. I can't say anything great about it, but it is a good rum for $11-12. And I have tasted worse for twice the price.


          19 Replies
          1. re: yarm

            I just got a great sale price on two bottles of Lemon Hart 151 from Shopper's Vineyard, $23 each (now $27). I have seen the 151 at a few online retailers but have yet to spot the 80 proof at the same places.

            Drinkupny.com has the Old monk for $16, I plan to order there very soon and was going to grab a couple bottles .

            I used to like the Kraken, but now find it a little too sweet and prefer to stay with the somewhat cheaper Black seal, Cruzan blackstrap or Myers dark (depending on the type of drink).

            1. re: ncyankee101

              Kraken is a spice rum which often means it was sweetened. My recommendation for Kraken was that it was a good spiced rum at that price point. Blackstrap is an amazing rum at $16 or so; it would get more use but the molasses flavor can dominate.

              1. re: yarm

                so do you think Black Seal may be a better "all purpose" mixer due to it not being spiced like Kraken and not being so molasses heavy like Black Strap?

                1. re: SBackes

                  Perhaps, but our bottle gets little attention. I think we ended up going towards more amber rums with a lot more character than extra dark rums (whether natural from aging or from the addition of caramel, molasses or other ingredients).

                2. re: yarm

                  I agree about the molasses flavor, but there are certain drinks in which Blackstrap works very well. When my girl and I need to use up some overripe bananas, I like to make banana daiquiris and the Blackstrap makes an amazing one (yes I know it's technically not a daiquiri with dark rum).

                  I have tried Black seal vs several other dark rums (including Kraken) in dark-n-stormies and I have to admit it was better in that drink than others. even my usual favorite dark mixer Pusser's. I just find that Kraken brings too much sweetness and spice and not enough rum flavor to the drinks I have used it in. I used to like it, but have gradually lost interest in it to the point that when my current bottle is gone I will probably not be buying it again.

                  A spiced rum I got recently that I really like is Seven Tiki - it is a medium amber spiced rum, IMO very natural and well-balanced spices. I paid $17 in Myrtle beach and consider it quite a bargain at that price.

                3. re: ncyankee101

                  Seth does have some great prices and good customer survice. I just purchased a case of Pinot from him and have used him for several special spirits purchases. He still has a great price on the Ron Zacapa XO and many others. Nice Bourbon selection

                4. re: yarm

                  I have to agree with some of your suggestions at least the ones I'm familiar with. I can't imagine using an excellent sipping rum as a mixer. Currently we have a litter of FdC 4 yr old that works well.

                  Save the Mount Gay XO, El Dorado 12 and the Appleton Extra and all the other higher end rums to be sipped neat or with a little ice. Maybe a slice of lime and a little cane juice as a Ti punch but that's about as far as I would go.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Your idea that using spirits above a certain price or quality level in a cocktail is a waste is a common one, but I disagree. As long as the spirit is not getting lost in the mix and contributes something unique that you enjoy, why not use it?

                    I find a Mai Tai made with Appleton Extra and Clement VSOP something special and delicious, while one made with Myer's Dark is just a waste of effort and ingredients. I also prefer most rums in a daiquiri or other cocktail rather than straight most of the time. I find that the subtleties and flavor of the rum still shine through in a daiquiri, so why not use a fine rum in this case if you feel like it?

                    1. re: nickls

                      Well that's because Meyer's Dark is crap and should only be used as a mixer. Could you tell the difference between an Appleton Extra and an Appleton V/X or El Dorado 12 and 5? And certainly use anything you feel like it but subtle flavors are not likely to shine through, big flavors no question. A lot also depends on the mixer. Something simple like cane juice and lime will not detract as much as cola or pineapple juice

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Depending on the cocktail you can definitely tell the difference. In a mai tai, daquiri or even rum and coke I think you can tell the difference between various rums. A variety of rums will definitely change the taste of a mai tai, I am continually experimenting though I keep coming back to ED 12 and St James

                        1. re: quazi

                          Okay, I'll take your word for it. I drink so few mixed drinks.

                          1. re: quazi

                            Speaking of mai tais


                            I've made his 2nd favorite combo of ED 15 and Sea Wynde and it was the best mai tai I have made. I don't have any Rhum Agricoles to try.

                      2. re: scubadoo97

                        I have only recommended using ED 12 as a mixer since I have found it for around $20, as long as I can keep getting it at that price point I am happy to mix it.

                        1. re: ncyankee101

                          That's what I pay for ED 12. It's a great sipper @ a great price. Again I'd use the 5 yr old for mixing and save some $. I recent made a strawberry daquari with a ginger simple syrup and used FdC 4 yo. Way too easy to drink. The rum and there was a lot of it was pretty much in the background.

                          I drink most all spirits neat so am very tuned into the flavor profiles. Maybe why I dont see the reason to add higher end spirits to mixed drinks. I personally can't taste the subtle flavors that I enjoy neat. Don't get me wrong I'm not advocating using the crappiest stuff just not the really good stuff.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I don't have any EDs available where I am have seen the 3 yr old online for $16 and the 8 year for $18.

                            I will have my ED 12 source check the prices on the younger EDs next time he heads down to ATL.

                            1. re: ncyankee101

                              stupid PA makes you special order 3 bottles at once (5yr= $20.39 each, 12yr=31.99 each) and that adds up fast, especially since Im not sure I like it

                              and Total Wine in Claymont DE doesnt carry it, they don't have a vendor for it

                              grumble grumble

                              1. re: SBackes

                                Too bad. The local Total Wine here in Fla. has ED 12 for $19.99 and the 15 goes for about $8-9 dollars more. When I can find a nice rum in the $10-12 range, that works for me in the mixed drink dept, but with the price of ED 12 being so good in some places there really isn't that much difference in price between a mediocre and a better rum like ED 12 in that cocktail.

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Yeah rub it in our faces that you are in Florida land of plentiful cheap and excellent rum :-p (J/K)

                                  PA and NC prices are about the same, both being state-run. We have to order an entire case of 6 for special order items though, and I don't see the ED 5 yr - the 3 yr is $17 and the 12 yr is $32.

                      3. re: yarm

                        Good recommendations, at least for those I know. I found Old Monk to be too sweet in the nose (but not tongue) for my liking. I struggled to use it up. The El Dorado white is too sweet on the tongue for me, but I might like it more as an aged dark rum; haven't tried it yet. Perhaps Cruzan would fit the bill too? The white is very cheap in a handle, and seems to mix pretty well.

                      4. I'm nuts about Mt. Gay Eclipse with tonic - it's hands down the best rum with tonic I've ever tried (which I admit is purely subjective, but an opinion shared by a surprising number of people I've chatted with over the years). Even on my sometimes below-meager budget I won't substitute. But, considering it's possible to get the large 1.75 liter bottle for around $30.00, it's not particularly overpriced or out of range.

                        Concerning expensive liquor and mixing: It really does depend on the drink sometimes. I've found, for example, Manhattans are actually better with the less expensive, basic bourbons, say the cheapest Jim Beam. A cheaper gin like Gilbey's for me is better in a gin and tonic, partly because some of the more expensive ones have distinctive herbal flavors that refuse to blend well - as a mixer, I prefer basic Beefeater or the regular Bombay, not Sapphire, by far, and that includes in Martinis (contrary to the sins of too many modern bartenders ALSO a mixed drink), but those are a little pricy for day to day.

                        That said, if a liquor is a terrific mixer, it's absolutely worth spending a little more if you can - what's the point if the only thing you taste in your drink is the non-alcoholic portion? If all you want to do is get drunk, sure. If you really enjoy a particular drink, making it the best it can be will not only be more satisfying, it can also slow down your drinking because you want to savor it longer.

                        The above purely my 50 cents worth (allowing for inflation).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cordwainer

                          Thanks for confirming my taste re Mount Gay Eclipse with tonic and lime: an iconic highball, and one I've enjoyed for years. Lately I've enjoyed their newish Mount Gay Black at 100 proof, and have found it a very versatile mixer. There's no hogo but a lot of richness and smoothness, even a bit of the signature Mount Gay smokiness, there.

                        2. Thought I would post the results of the 2011 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition


                            1. SBackes,

                              Ugh, PA is a pretty terrible place to have to buy spirits, unless you want Super Punch... The thing about the El Dorados is that they're not very interchangeable. Each age statement is also a blend of different types of stills, and they taste radically different from one another.

                              That being said, in the value area, Flor de Cana 4/5/7 are all great, inexpensive mixing rums, as is ED 5. The ED 12 and 15 IMHO are for sipping or Old Fashioneds. I would also recommend Mt. Gay Eclipse (which has a banana overtone) and Gosling's Black Seal.



                              10 Replies
                              1. re: ZacharyK


                                PA is actually a great place to buy some spirits - and terrible for others, mainly in regards to selection, though the "luxury" stores have a lot of stuff not found in most.

                                PA has THE best prices in the country on certain liquors, like Thomas Handy sazerac rye and laphroaig 18 yr Scotch (both $60) - and their sale prices on many items makes them competitive with the cheapest in the US, such as Wild Turkey rare breed for $30, Laphroaig Quarter Cask at $48 and several other Scotches. When PA puts things on sale they often knock $10 or so off, whereas here in NC most sales are a whole $3, even on $50+ items.

                                Closeout deals are even better, just last week I got two bottles of Caol Ila 12 yr for $29 each - almost impossible to find for under $50. Last trip Cruzan SB for $19, and Herbsaint original recipe 100 pf for $21. They had Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac for $64, though it is all gone now - I did pick up a couple bottles of a very nice XO Cognac for $58 each, Frapin Chateau Fontpinot - usually priced between $100-120 elsewhere.

                                Their selection for rum is not great, though not any worse than here in NC. Their sale price on handles of Myers's dark ($30) and Gosling's Black seal ($25) are quite competitve, and I've gotten barbancourt 5 star for $19.

                                I grew up in PA and every time I go up to visit i invariably come home with a case or two of great deals. Try finding Cherry Heering for $18.50, or under $25 for that matter.

                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                  Where in PA are you finding the closeout deals? My local stores (2 of which are premium stores) almost never have any closeout items. I rarely see the $10 off sales but did manage to grab a bottle of tequila.......the usual sales seem to be $2-4 off (vodka, gin, tequila). Since I'm not a scotch/cognac/bourbon drinker I may just not notice the bigger sales on the pricier items

                                  1. re: SBackes

                                    I search online, the PA site lets you search just closeout deals (or sales, slo, etc) and tells you exactly which stores have them in stock.

                                    I just looked over their sales list for the month and most of the sales on more expensive items are $5-6 off. I guess in my head I was comparing them to the regular prices here in NC and had assumed since both are state run the regular prices would be about the same, whereas even your everyday prices seem to be a few dollars cheaper. The main site doesn't give the original price, but the .pdf list on the "Fine wine and good spirits" site does.

                                    For example Hendricks Gin is $35 here, usually $32 there, and on sale for $27. There are a few that are more, currently Tres Gen Anejo tequila is $8 off (which makes it $13 less than NC) and Maestro Dobbel is $10 off.

                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                      ah ok.....yep the Maestro is the one I bought :D
                                      I'm not too far from DE and 99% of the time their pricing is less and they don't charge tax. (Hendricks there, not on sale, is $25.99 and no tax). I only bother driving there though if I'm planning on buying several items, otherwise the cost of gas eats up all the savings lol

                                      1. re: SBackes

                                        Wow no tax on liquor sales? That's amazing, heck I thought people in PA were spoiled because here in NC we pay sales tax on food, clothing and medicine (though tax on unprepared food is only 2%.) We also have an annual tax on automobiles of about 1% of the value.

                                        I just said PA's sale prices made them competitive, not the best - but I live in the middle of NC so driving out of state is not an option except on vacation. Tres gen anejo is $30 at Hitimewine in CA, but $32 is still a great price (if you wanted to buy it which I don't).

                                        One item I see a great price on (though it is out of my price range) is Balvenie 21 yr portwood finish - $145 on sale this month, most place have it for $170-190. The only better price I see is Total Wine in Orlando (where I will be vacationing this summer) for $140.

                                        There are still a few closeout bottles of Cuervo Platino for $32 left in PA, I just got another one of those last week.

                                        1. re: ncyankee101

                                          I grabbed the last Cuervo Platino I could find in any of my local stores...haven't tried it yet but thought it was a very good price for it

                                          1. re: SBackes

                                            Platino is one of my favorite blancos, in fact the only one I have had so far that I like better is Casa Noble Crystal, and Siete Leguas and Fortaleza just behind. I got two bottles when I was up there over Thanksgiving, got another in January and yet another last week so I now have about 3 1/2 bottles of Platino.

                                            Those are the only really top-notch blancos I have had, but there are a few more on my wish list - Aha Toro, T1, Fina Estampa, Crotala, 1921 (NOM 1079). Would love to try Clase Azul but wow, $70 for the blanco, too rich for me. Nice bottle though.

                                            PS - sorry for the thread hijack ;-) Going back to the original topic - the current PA sale on Mt Gay extra old for $38 is very good, I got a bottle in Myrtle beach last year for $35 but I have never seen it anywhere else for under $40 - $46 here.

                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                              Was tempted to pick up a bottle of the MGXO while on sale because they also had a $3 mail in coupon (just expired) but decided to try and find the ED12 instead because I prefer it a bit sweet

                                              1. re: SBackes

                                                ED 12 is definitely a little on the sweet side, but IMO not overly so, as are Zaya and Zacapa 23 which are more like liqueurs. Too bad the price is so high in PA at $32, and special order only - but I see the ED 15 is $35 and available in luxury stores.

                                                I actually prefer the 12 year old, but only by a tiny margin, and the differences between the two are subtle.

                                  2. re: ncyankee101

                                    Those close-out deal are pretty spectacular, especially the Caol Ila, but the other prices are about in line with what we have in Montgomery County, Maryland. The prices here on a lot of stuff can spoil you. Most notably, I've been used to buying Elija craig and Buffalo trace (two of my favorite bourbons) for around $16 and $19 for years. I'm shocked when I go elsewhere and see it as high as the mid $20s.

                                    To respond to the original poster, I'm just starting out exploring the wider world of rums, but really like Goslings Black seal and Appleton VX for dark and gold, respectively. Both are also quite affordable.