The Best Sipping Rum To Try For Beginners, According To A Spirits Expert

Rum is an excellent substitute for vanilla extract when baking and wonderful to use to make cocktails. Did you know, however, that rum is also lovely to sip neat or on the rocks? For beginners, it's important to figure out which rum is the best to sip. To help you on your rum sipping journey, we sat down with an expert, Molly Horn, Chief Mixologist and Spirits Educator for Total Wine & More, and asked her to recommend the best sipping rum for beginners to try.

Her answer was quite definitive. Horn stated, "My recommendation is an aged rum, particularly those from Barbados ... Barbadian rums are known for being rich, nuanced, and somewhat sweeter than other styles." She listed her personal favorites from Barbados: Kaniche XO and Plantation OFTD. 

Aged rums are one of 13 types of rum we've explained in the past and are ideal for beginners to sip on the rocks or neat. When you sip aged rum by itself, it's delicious, and you get to appreciate all of its flavors, tasting notes, and the time spent aging the spirit. Sometimes, it takes years for all those flavors to develop. Aged rum goes down smoothly, so you don't need a chaser or mixer. 

Rum shares bourbon's tasting notes, and both are wonderful to sip neat

Additionally, Molly Horn recommended that beginners sip aged rum from Guatemala, with her favorites being Ron Zacapa and El Pasador de Oro. She explained, "Guatemalan rums are full-bodied with deep, robust flavors." If you're looking to appreciate bolder flavors, sip a Guatemalan aged rum. But if it's sweetness you're looking for, choose a Barbadian aged rum.

Horn added, "The approachability and depth of flavors in these styles of rum, as well as the characteristics of oak aging that add flavors similar to Bourbon, make them an excellent entry point for those new to rum!" Bourbon has nine common tasting notes, including smoke, spices, vanilla, wood, and nuts. Since Bourbon is also a spirit people often sip neat or on the rocks, it feels good to know aged rum shares Bourbon's characteristics. 

After you try sipping an aged rum for the first time and become a fan, you can start expanding your horizons and consider these top 15 sipping rums to enjoy in 2024. Additionally, check out why some people drink rum with a splash of water added to open up all of its flavors.