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Best white rums

The last week I have been revisiting all the white rums I have. I know most people only think of white rums for mixing, but there are a few that are interesting enough to sip. I was curious to see what others think, and if they have any other suggestions.

My favorites are Banks 5 island, Oronoco and El Dorado 3 yr. I have heard JM Rhum Blanc is very good but have yet to bring myself to shell out the $40 for a liter to try it.

Wray + nephew overproof is quite interesting, great as a mixer but I have to be in a certain mood to sip it, even watered down a bit from 126 proof

I also like Matusalem platino, but mainly as a mixer. Palo Viejo white is a decent budget mixer at around $10 for a liter. Seagram's Brazilian rum has an unusual cachaca-like flavor, but very mild, doesn't really hold up in a Caiparinha but is interesting to sip once in a while or use in a tiki drink.

I have yet to try Appleton, barbancourt, or Flor de Cana 4 yr white but they are all on my list.

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  1. Flor de Caña gets high marks and has a bit more of an edge to it than many stripped down whites. Decent price point of around $16/750.

    Two new blends that have come on the market that have gotten good reviews are Denizen (Trinidad with a hint of funky Jamaican) and Plantation 3 Star. Unfortunately, neither have come into my state.

    JM Rhum is good but potent in flavor and I only use it when there is a call for a rhum agricole and not for regular white rum recipes.


    3 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      Oh yes thanks for reminding me I have heard good things about Denizen too, and it is also on my list to try. Drinkupny.com has it for $17.

      Any idea what the price point is on the Plantation?

      How does the FdC 4 yr white compare to the gold?

      i wish I could find a bottle of Mount gay sugar cane but it seems to be gone forever.

      1. re: ncyankee101

        What I've read about the Plantation 3 Star is $25/liter.

      2. re: yarm

        Mount Gay Eclipse silver is pretty good. Whether or not you choose it as a favorite, it is definitely worth investigating neat. It has some mild grassy character, like cachaca, but it is more subtle in its various aspects. I've sampled it neat quite a number of times just to get a deeper sense of Mount Gay rums.

        And if it doesn't appeal to you neat, it is excellent in a Papa Doble light on the juice and maraschino.

      3. A buddy of mine brought back some Havana Club from overseas this weekend and we were sipping on it on saturday night. I know it's not quite fair to suggest, but damn!!, that was some tasty and smooth light rum.

        1. Here was a head-to-head show down of 32 light rums with tasting notes, price points, and other comparisons. The spoiler was that Orinoco was their top pick.


          1. For those on a budget my experience has been that Cruzan's light rum offering far exceeds others in a similar price range. The advice also stands for people like me who due to location have a very limited selection at liquor stores.

            1. Yank, don't be so quick to discount Wray & Nephews high proof. Keep in mind that many rums are distilled and aged at that proof, but later diluted to 80 proof for bottling. Buy a jug of distilled water and add it in small teaspoons until you hit the sweet spot.

              No less than Dave Broom considers W&N one of the best rums in the world when so diluted.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Capn Jimbo

                You know, I don't hesitate to do that with a whiskey, but have just never thought to do that with a rum. I think I'll be purchasing a bottle of Wray & Nephews very soon. Thanks!

                1. re: Capn Jimbo

                  pardon my ignoramitude, but is distilled water the best choice for this? say, over a filtered or spring water?


                  1. re: linus

                    Distilled water is the purest form of water.

                    1. re: ncyankee101

                      sorry so late to reply.
                      distilled water may be the most purified water, but i've never heard of anyone recommending drinking it.

                      1. re: linus

                        On its own it is really flat tasting. But using it to dilute a drink should be A-OK since the base spirit has enough going on to compensate for the lack of minerals in the distilled water. In fact, I know it's A-OK since I used distilled water to make my ice cubes.

                        That said, spring water should work just great, too. It shouldn't make much of a difference at all.

                        1. re: linus

                          Le Blue is a popular brand of bottled water - it is distilled water, highly recommended to people (such as my GF's mother) who have certain health problems or are taking medications and cannot have any chlorine in their drinking water.

                          1. re: ncyankee101

                            Hi Yank... allow me to share this:

                            " The distillation process contains several elements that make it undesirable for purifying drinking water. First of all, while the vaporization process will strip water of salt, metals, and bacteria, the boiling point of most synthetic chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine solutions is lower than the boiling point of water. Synthetic chemicals are the major contaminants remaining after municipal treatment. Distillation does not remove these harmful chemicals.

                            Finally, distillation, like reverse osmosis, strips water of natural trace elements. When these elements are removed from water, the hydrogen composition becomes greater in proportion, making the water very acidic. Several studies have proven that drinking distilled water, stripped of minerals, can actually be harmful to the body system. Long-term consumption of such de-mineralized water can result in mineral deficiencies in the body. Though the removal of trace minerals creates water that is ideal for use in photo or print shops, it creates tasteless and even unhealthy drinking water."

                            Le Bleu is a common distilled water, that has removed the chlorine (good) but is stripped of needed minerals (bad) and is acidic (bad). Even worse, this company adds ozone, which is VERY controversial and harmful to the body.

                            Actually, if she has a problem with chlorine (how did she discover this?), a simple activated carbon filter will do the job, without adding the negative effects of acidity, loss of minerals and ozone (an potent oxidizer).

                            1. re: Capn Jimbo

                              Cap'n - I believe she is on meds that do not allow chlorine. I personally have an inexpensive undersink carbon block filter that I am quite happy with, but the specs say it "reduces" not "removes" chlorine - they don't give percentages these days, but I seem to recall that such filters formerly said 96% or so reduction of chlorine.

                            2. re: ncyankee101

                              i've never heard of le blue water. and i'm fairly certain most bottled waters contain no chlorine. but i could be wrong there.

                              i'm sure you all have had success with using distilled water in your whiskeys, i've just never heard of such a thing. i can't imagine why it would have an advantage over mineral water.

                              mineral waters being used to dilute whiskey, yes, that i've heard of.

                              1. re: linus

                                I'm with you, Linus. To me it's six of this, half a dozen of the other.

                                Capn Jimbo: Unfortunately, most of what you write is not accurate. 1. Distilled water is by chemical definition neutral, not acidic. 2. While minerals are of course removed from distilled water (hence the term "pure"), drinking distilled water is not unhealthy in and of itself. Not consuming enough minerals is. Taking a multivitamin or eating a healthy diet covers this issue in spades. It's also ironic that we're discussing the health risks of distilled water in a thread about consuming a known toxin! Lastly, ozone is incredibly toxic, but it does not present a known risk when used to treat water.

                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                  Per the EPA, distilled water will be slightly acidic due to absorbing CO2:


                                  Not nearly as acidic, surely, as seltzer water, and I'm sure none of us would balk at mixing some of that into certain beverages.

                                  I personally think distilled water tastes a bit nasty. So I'd go for spring water for dilution purposes.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    Good point. Didn't take that into account. My experience is that it tests neutral in my lab, but that may be because it goes from container to container to test strip usually with little aeration.

                                    I agree about distilled water not tasting so hot on its own. But using it to dilute is totally fine. Use whatever clean, non-chlorinated water source you have with no fear of health risks or off tastes.

                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                      Folks, this sub-thread is starting to get kind of snarky and personal and we removed a couple of replies. Please try to keep things focused on the topic rather than on nitpicking fellow hounds. Thanks!

                    2. What's the going rate on Banks 5? I was perusing my preferred local booze purveyors yesterday and noticed a few bottles of it on close-out for $15. I thought I used to see it for somewhere in the mid/upper twenties. $15 seems like a steal and if you can green light it as a wise move I'll be grabbing more than one of those.

                      17 Replies
                      1. re: alphanumeric

                        Grab all you can handle at that price. I got two 1-ltr bottles for $20 a while back (I suspect a misprice later it was $35) and now the same retailer has 750's priced at $30. The lowest price I see at my usual retailers is $26 at Hitime.

                        It's an excellent white rum and a great deal for under $20, to be honest there are a lot of other rums (mainly dark ones) I would rather have for ~$25-30.

                        1. re: alphanumeric

                          Ultimately it's about you and what you like. You seem to be expressing skepticism over a rum being discounted as somehow implying something is wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth - it's all about local sales. Example: I found a bottle of J.M. Blanc from Martinique on closeout for $9 - yes, you read that right.

                          Still it's very, very hard to ignore Flor de Cana 4 Year White (or Gold) at the regular Total Wine cost of about $21 for 1.75 liters. I daresay this rum is a worthy alternative...

                          1. re: Capn Jimbo

                            Capn - have you had the Banks yet? It's not really in any way similar to FdC 4 yr, the Batavia Arrack component gives it a caney character more similar to agricoles. It's a very unusual white rum and to be honest at that price I would say it is a no brainer, unless one could find some more J M Blanc at the same price.

                            1. re: ncyankee101

                              At the risk of thread derailment... I've been mildly intrigued about tracking down a bottle of Batavia Arrack around here and was wondering if you think it's worth it and if so, do you have any recommendations? You seem to suggest it's similar to rhum agricoles? For the sake of cocktails that call for Batavia Arrack (whic aren't many), do you think a rhum agricole would be a reasonable substitute?

                              Also, just as an aside, when the cold weather hits, I end up drinking more scotch, meaning rum tends to fall of my radar.

                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                Crunch - I haven't actually had batavia arrack but I have heard very good things about it (mainly as a cocktail ingredient), I know it is made from cane juice and has a vegetal nature, and I am assuming it accounts for the unusual flavor of the Banks, as it is similar to other cane juice rums I have had.

                                It is something I have had in my cart for several online orders but at $30 never seems to make the final cut when I am trying to get down to a - ahem - "reasonable" amount ;-)

                                Edit - I defer to davis's greater experience with agricoles, of which I have only had a couple - as well as several non-AOC cane juice rums and cachacas. I do agree that the ones I have had were all over the map.

                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                  I concur that you may not reach for Batavia Arrack, but when you do, you'll like it. I also agree that cachaca might be the closest sub. It also has something in common with tequila in terms of flavor, although tequila has a pepper flavor that BA lacks.

                                  This was mentioned in The Boston Globe:
                                  Arrack Attack
                                  by Dan Chadwick, Kindred Cocktails

                                  1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
                                  1/2 oz Cynar
                                  1/2 oz Ginger liqueur, Canton
                                  1/2 oz Lime juice
                                  1 ds Bitters, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged
                                  1/8 pn Salt (tiny amount)
                                  1 sli Lime (as garnish)

                                  Shake, strain, rocks, low ball, lime wheel

                                  www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    Okay, I know what I'll be sipping in T-minus two hours or so...

                                    By the way, the Flying Dutchman, invented at Eastern Standard (I believe), is my favorite Batavia Arrack cocktail to date:


                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      Super.Hope you like it. I would make this with King's Ginger, if you have it. I was all keen to make a Flying Dutchman until I saw the 3-week infusion... I guess that's a reason to go to Eastern Standard!

                                    2. re: EvergreenDan

                                      Thank you sharing this recipe. I've seen it on your site and gave it a go. Absolutely incredible.

                                  2. re: The Big Crunch

                                    IMO, no, rhum agricole is not at all similar to batavia arrack. They're both funky, but in entirely different ways. And agricoles are all over the map -- Clement VSOP is totally different than, for example, Depaz Blue Cane. I think that arrack's flavor profile is somewhat similar to very cheap cachaca (something like 51). It has a certain solvent quality; think acetone. But at the same time it's fairly rich and somehow inviting. Definitely an acquired taste at any rate.

                                    Worth tracking down? If you're interested in spirits with historical importance, then yes. Will you reach for it a lot? Probably not. At least, I don't. I do enjoy it, though, especially in punch. It gives drinks a certain bite -- that "funkiness" -- that no other spirit can quite match.

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      Thanks for the feedback. I'd always thought it was a bit like cachaca, and I actually do have a bottle of 51 that I picked up for Caiprahnas last summer. I tried some Leblon recently b and thought it was much butter, and actually closer to a smooth light rum, so if I ever run out of my bottle of 51, I may pick up a bottle.

                                      I've only had one rhum agricole, which is the Depaz I currently have. I really dig it. In many ways, it reminds me just as much of a highland scotch or light reposado tequila as it does a rum.

                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                        Is it weird that I like Batavia Arrack straight sometimes?

                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                          Probably :-)

                                          Although I can totally see it.

                                        2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                          clement vsop good - why is this never on sale !

                                    2. re: Capn Jimbo

                                      On the contrary, Jimbo: I was quite excited to test out Banks 5. I was simply determining whether a shopping cart would be necessary or my arms would suffice.

                                      As for Flor de Caña 4, I've heard good things but it goes for a much less inviting $18/750 around me. Not a deal breaker, but the options presented to me made the Banks 5 the preferable choice.

                                    3. re: alphanumeric

                                      Agreed w/ ncyankee101: buy it up. It's awesome stuff.

                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                        I ended up going with a conservative two bottles (I need to save for other things in life. Like Old Weller Antique 107).

                                        If I didn't have a pauper's budget, I would be driving back for more.

                                    4. Cruzan aged light, has a bit of colour but not much, aged in American oak. And Mt Gay light. Both excellent, balanced, smooth, not like most lighter-fluid whites.