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Save Room in Your Suitcase for These Caribbean Rums

Korena Bolding

Tastes like summer.

Welcome to We Love the Caribbean, a collection of stories celebrating all things island life.

Planter’s punch, the Painkiller, a poolside daiquiri – rum is omnipresent in the Caribbean. And the region’s go-to spirit contains multitudes: Though it’s always made with fresh-pressed sugarcane juice, molasses, or a combination of the two, each brand has its own production and aging processes, rendering the finished product anywhere from light and citrusy to caramelly and spicy. “Rum has a huge cultural significance in the Caribbean,” says Darnell Holguin, an NYC-based mixologist and rum cocktail expert. “It’s part of the region’s soul.”

No proper intro to rum should stop at one bottle – let this tasting tour through some of the islands’ classic releases and exciting new collaborations fill your bar cart.

The Bottles

Myrtle Bank Tiki Blend

This ten-year-aged Jamaican rum is a collaboration between the Myrtle Bank distillery and tiki cocktail expert Shannon Mustipher. The blend’s notes of banana, vanilla, and cocoa make it a nice base for at-home tiki-inspired concoctions. $82,

Rhum J.M Blanc 110 Proof

French-style rums from Martinique are known for versatility and packing a punch – 55 percent ABV is a standard proof. This rhum agricole (rum that’s made from fresh sugarcane, not molasses) comes from crops that grow in the volcanic soil near Mount Pelée and features sweet hints of pineapple and citrus at the top, with mineral notes that linger. $39,

Mount Gay XO

BarbadosMount Gay is the oldest rum brand in the world, with a deed dating to 1703. The XO blends mature rums that are aged in whiskey, bourbon, and cognac casks, giving the spirit notes of vanilla, dry spice, and salted caramel. It’s ideal for swapping into a traditional whiskey cocktail (such as an old-fashioned) or sipping on its own. $73,

Brugal 1888 Doblemente Añejado

Some rums – including this sophisticated blend from the Dominican Republic – deserve to be sipped. Brugal’s double-cask aging process produces a sweet yet woodsy rum that tastes like caramel and vanilla with a hint of honey. $43,

Ten To One Caribbean Dark Rum

Ten To One founder and Trinidadian Marc-Kwesi Farrell created this blend of rums from the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica with the goal of elevating the U.S. market’s perception of the spirit. The finished product, which is aged in bourbon barrels, has a depth that adds a hint of bananas and spice to cocktails. $45,

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