5 White Rums

I had planned some time ago to do a comparison of white rums, and this past weekend gave me some time to do so. But I should have planned better because I didn’t really think it out, and ended up grabbing 6 white rums that I had handy, and they didn’t make for a good comparison. They didn’t match, and they really didn’t differ enough. I should have grabbed a white from each of several islands, or perhaps a few whites from one island. Instead, I ended up with a bit of a hodge podge. By doing so I ended up learning a bit in the process, though, and learning something means that this wasn’t a total loss.

As I mentioned, I grabbed 6 rums – yet this post is titled “5 White Rums” for a reason. One of the bottles was Clément Premiére Canne, an agricole from Martinique. This was so very different from the others that I had to remove it from this comparison. It’s just not like the others in any way besides being a cane spirit. It needs to be reviewed separately, or compared to another unaged agricole. Note that this is not a bad thing – it’s just different.

The Rums
After removing the Clément I was left with 5 rums:

Bacardi Superior (It had to be done, as a base.)
Cruzan Premium Light
Havana Club Añejo Blanco
Pyrat Superior Blanco
Ron Matusalem Platino

Some of these rums are like each other, and some are very different. As I was to discover, and learn in the process. Yes, I should have planned better.

The Comparison Methodology
As much as I didn’t want to, I felt that it was important to taste of these rums neat, at room temperature. Neat is the best way to get all the smells, tastes, and burns of each rum.

Next I was going to try each in a Rum & Ginger Ale, with a bit of lime. Ginger Ale is important to this recipe, and the lack of it canceled this step.

For the last step I wanted to try each in a Rum & Coke. I’m not really sure why I wanted to do this, but I felt it was important when I started. But since the straight Rum & Coke was quite terrible, I did it again but with a healthy squeeze from 1/6 of a lime. This made it much more palatable.

For each of these 3 steps I went back and forth often, sipping one rum and then another and another, then sometimes back to the first or the last. I tried to compare them to each other, not just trying each in a line one after another. This was a great way to go through the process, as different rums brought out things in other rums. Two of the rums might have had a similar smell or taste that each sip made me more aware of a particular taste or smell in a another rum. Between most of the sips I rinsed my mouth with some water, but there were times I skipped the water in order to keep some flavors going from one rum to another.

This process did, however, have it effects on me. Next time I’ll try this with 3 rums. Rotating between 5 rums meant that I ingested a decent amount of alcohol.

The Rums, Neat

Bacardi Superior – $16
Bacardi Light – the ultimate rum for mixing, if you believe all the marketing. I don’t believe much of it, but this rum surprised me. It had a smell of ethanol that was quite noticeable, but I had been expecting it so I didn’t think it was too bad. It also had a noticeable burn – but I’ve been burned worse by other rums, and again I was expecting it so it wasn’t so bad. It was actually a bit smoother than I expected, too. All in all, the Bacardi surprised me by being better than expected. This certainly wasn’t a great rum – even calling it good would be a compliment. But it was better than I expected.

Or so I thought.

Cruzan Premium Light – $11
This rum from St. Croix is aged 2 years, which is twice as long as the Bacardi. This rum really surprised me. It was extremely smooth, smooth enough to be sippable. It smelled a bit of wood, which is expected from the aging, but unexpected since I would have figured that it would have been filtered out. There were hints of some fruit, both light and dark ones, which gave it some nice taste even though they were mild in a white. It carried some hints of vanilla, and bit of a smell of ethanol but far from the Bacardi.

Compared to the Bacardi… there is no comparison. I had thought the Bacardi was decent, but the Cruzan pointed out how harsh it was and made me very aware of how little taste the Bacardi possessed. But the Cruzan isn’t very similar to the Bacardi. The Cruzan has less taste overall – even though I could detect several different tastes and smells they were faint, whereas the Bacardi taste was bolder. The Cruzan seems like a rum that will get lost in a cocktail, and that makes it perfect for certain drinks, when one wants a faint rum taste that is smooth and not brazen.

Havana Club Añejo Blanco – Unknown Price
A friend recently brought me a bottle of this rum, a rum that seemed like I needed to have in my collection. It has a mild smell, a faint hint of ethanol – even less than the Cruzan. It has a very good taste, not strong of molasses or fruit or anything really. It just tastes like what a light rum should taste like. Very good, decently smooth, a touch dry. For a basic, simple white rum this is outstanding.

It reminded me a bit of the Bacardi, so I sipped them both back-to-back. The Bacardi definitely had many similarities to the Havana Club, which made sense given Bacardi’s Cuban history. But again the Bacardi failed, trying to do what the Havana Club did but failing miserably in the process. The Bacardi tastes cheaper, more raw, more like a cheap imitation. But they were similar in many ways, and I could easily put them in the same category.

Pyrat Superior Blanco – $16
This rum from Anguilla is quite nice. Though it has more ethanol smell than the Cruzan, it’s not bad at all. It’s a sweet rum – well, sweeter than the others. And it’s a bit fruity, so it is a rum that would go very well in many cocktails and tiki drinks especially. This rum had the most flavor of molasses, but in a white rum this is still a hint of taste, which made me consider this the most “typical” rum. It had the most burn, though, stopping it from being a sipping rum even though it is the most flavorful of the ones tested.

Alas, it appears that this rum is no longer made, which is a shame. I like it quite a bit for a white rum, and would use it often if I could only get more.

Ron Matusalem Platino – $17
Made in “the spirit of Cuba” the first smell of this Dominican rum made me immediately think of the Havana Club. I did a lot of comparing between the two. The Matusalem is a bit heavier, and tastes of the rum came through stronger. Even though it’s triple-distilled it seemed to have more “leftovers” in it – more congeners perhaps? These are not unpleasant in the least – it’s just that it has more than the Havana Club. It also tastes a little sweeter and a little less refined than the HC, though nothing like the Bacardi’s near-lack of refinement.

And this thought made me compare all three – The Havana Club against the Matusalem against the Bacardi. I easily and quickly put these three into the same category as they all have a lot of similarities that show their common Cuban heritage. But the Bacardi was left far behind, while the Matusalem was very close to the Havana Club. There’s no doubt that I will keep buying the Matusalem once my bottle of Havana Club is dry. Bacardi, however, will hopefully never be purchased again.

Rum & Coke
I made a set of Rum & Cokes – 4 ice cubes, 1 ounce of rum, and 4 ounces of Coke – all carefully measured to ensure an accurate comparison.

OK, who drinks this shit? Rum & Coke is nasty. I took about 2 sips from each, and almost threw them out. But I remembered that I had a lime, and quickly carved it into 6 relatively-even pieces. I squeezed each into a drink and dropped it.

The lime made this drink a lot more palatable. Lucky for me. However, it didn’t take long for this part of the test, since they still weren’t very good. I won’t ever do this again – at least not with white rums. Next time I promise to remember the Ginger Ale.

In the end the comparison was easy – I rated each rum as Bad, OK, or Good. The Havana Club and – holy cow – the Bacardi were the only ones that tasted decent enough to be called Good. The others were all OK, but certainly not Good. Again the Bacardi surprised me, but perhaps its foul tastes combined well with the Coke. But I was surprised that the Best and the Worst of the “Cubans” tasted good, but not the middling Matusalem. For some reason the Matusalem just didn’t work in the Rum & Coke.

By now you’ve hopefully realized the mistakes I made in picking these 5 particular rums. Somehow I managed, without thinking, to grab 3 Cuban-style rums, and two others that were totally different.

So for the Cuban-style rums, the Havana Club Añejo Blanco wins easily, followed quite closely by the Matusalem Platino, while the Bacardi Superior was a distant third. The Havana Club will be hoarded, and somehow made to last as long as possible. The Matusalem will always have a place on my shelf, for Mojitos at the very least, once the HC is a memory.

The Cruzan wins for being the smoothest and being the best bargain. At two-thirds the price of the others it’s a steal, and I’ll be sure to keep a bottle on the shelf at all times. It’s quite good, and very versatile.

The Pyrat Blanco wins for being the tastiest of the bunch, and is voted Most Likely To Appear In A Tiki Drink. This is a very good rum.

All of these rums – other than the Bacardi – are very good. They all have a place, and they all belong because of different reasons.


28 Responses to “5 White Rums”

  1. Phil Says:

    Have you done this as a blind-tasting?

  2. scottes Says:

    No, this was not blind, as it was not really meant to be a way to find the best rum, but rather just to compare them and find their differences. Though I admit it would be interesting to test the 3 Cuban-style ones in a blind test, but now it might be unfair for me to do so.

  3. erik_flannestad Says:

    Glad to see you put Bacardi about where I remember it to be. Have read some opinions to the contrary lately, and was recently thinking I should re-taste it. Whew! You saved me $15!

    Do you get Flor de Cana Extra Dry?

    I quite like that rum, and would be curious how it stacks up against the others in this comparison. I’ve been told it is a very nice rum in the mode of the Havana Club Anejo Blanco.

    Montecristo and Brugal’s silver rums are a couple others I’ve had recommended; but, am not sure where they fall. Montecristo may fall outside this group, just on the basis of cost.

    Also, of course, curious about Bacardi’s new “Havana Club” branded product.

  4. scottes Says:

    I actually have the Flor De Cana Extra Dry white, but didn’t have it with me the day I reviewed the others. I can’t find any of the others though, like the Gold and the 7-year-old. I have a loose plan to re-test more whites – The Flor, Myer’s Platinum, Appleton, and a couple others. I want to find the Brugal though, and maybe the Don Q Cristal to have a good line-up. I hope to try a Gold comparison this weekend – and I’ll plan it better than this comparison.

    As to the Bacardi rums, I only hear good things about the 8, so I may grab that sometime. But you should grab a nip of the Bacardi Superior – $1, not $15 – and do a comparison. The more people hear, the better off they’ll be!

    I basically refuse to buy the Bacardi “Havana Club” out of respect for the real Havana Club.

    • Omelio Ramirez Says:

      The real Original Cuban Havana Club and Bacardi plant and recipes were stolen by the Cuban “revolutionary Government”, they could not continue producing the Bacardi Brand because the name was internationally registered or protected but they tried for a while, i know that the original recipe and rights to the “Original Havana Club” were sold to Bacardi by their original owners so they are producing the “original Havana Club” in their main Plant in Puerto Rico together with the original “Bacardi Rums” they also have plants in different countries but all are the Original Cuban Bacardi recipes except the new flavored types, so which is the “real” Havana Club, some friends have brought me some Havana Club Anejo 3 and 7 years and i will buy the Bacardi made Havana Club here in Miami and will compare both on a blind taste with some Cuban friends to see what comes out of it.

  5. jmq Says:

    Heres a tasty rum drink to try with the Cruzan light or Cruzan citrus flavored rum.
    In tall glass over ice:
    1/3 Cruzan rum
    1/3 cranberry juice,
    1/3 Ting = from Jamaica a moderately sweet lightly carbonated soft drink using Jamaican grapefruit – find it in West Indian grocery stores/bodegas and some supermarkets like Wegmans. Have substituted Newmans pink lemonade if I dont have any Ting.
    Squeeze lime in.
    Optional: shot of orange liquer mixed in; splash Cruzan dark and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.
    Yum. Not too sweet like most rum punches.

  6. Rick Says:

    Have you tried Brugal white? It is easily my favorite white rum (I have not tried Flor de Cana or any Cuban whites, though.

  7. Scottes Says:

    A lot of people recommend the Brugal, and I finally got a bottle of the White on Saturday. I plan on trying it soon.

  8. Miwi Says:

    Bacardi Superior. Ouch. I recently was given a handle (1.75 ml) of BS and was at a loss re what to do with it. Out of desperation, I added a touch of simple sugar syrup, brown sugar simple sugar syrup, a couple touches of real vanilla, and a tiny bit of grenadine.

    The result was not spectacular in any way, but it did create a spiced rum of sorts that was amazingly potable. I’ve actually kept the mix and made drinks from it several times. Several people have been impressed enough with it to ask me what it was.

    Again, I’m not advocating this but I am promoting it as a way to make Bacardi palatable and even worth drinking.

  9. cbenson Says:

    For me the best “white” rum to mix with coke is 10 Cane. It’s expensive for a coke mixer but it’s really tasty for sure. Bacardi white is pish. For normal bar coke mixers I’ll try to get the Captain Morgan or Bacardi Gold. I just don’t dig on the white rums except for the 10 Cane.

  10. Adam Says:

    I must say, Ive never tried cruzan white, despite owning over a case and a half of the clear stuff. Never paid it any mind until I read this. I did a taste test with bacardi and was just blown away. The Cruzan makes bacardi taste like bankers, ron rio, or crystal palace! Ive got a new favorite mixing white!

  11. Scottes Says:

    Just don’t ever compare it to the Oronoco!

  12. Scottes Says:

    Oh, and the Cruzan white doesn’t really work in every cocktail. Sometimes it’s a little too bland, and sometimes you want a little extra kick. Cruzan makes for a boring Mojito, while the kick of Ron Matusalem Platino is much more appropriate IMHO.

  13. Adam Says:

    Thanks, before I completely replace Bacardi from my bar. Unfortunately, Capital Wine and Spirits will be paying for new menu books, and they represent Bacardi, Mt Gay, and Appletons. Id love to switch over to the Matusalem for mojitos, but the booze business is a slippery slope!

  14. Fritz Says:

    A friend of mine smuggled a bottle of Havana Club white in to the country for me, and I couldn’t drink the stuff. I’m not much of a tiki drinker, so perhaps I didn’t give it a fair shake according to its proper role, but — in a tumbler, over ice? Yeccchh.

  15. Scottes Says:

    The HC goes well in a Mojito, or perhaps a daiquiri. It’s not a sipper, that’s for sure.

  16. Rum Drinks Says:

    I have recently finished both a bottle of Havana Club Anejo Blanco and also Matusalem Platino (Ron Matusalem) using various styles of drinks.

    I agree that HC goes great in a Mojito and other white rum cocktails but my I do have to stand up for my current favourite rum – Matusalem platino!!! It’s so smooth and easy to drink neat, HC neat is not so smooth and i haven’t yet had the privilege of trying the other 3 so can’t comment (yet) hehe.

    Matusalem Platino with a splash of soda or dry and bucket load load of ice goes great!

  17. Michael Says:

    I’ve become a fan of the Ron Matusalem White Rum. $14 locally in South Jersey. I recently had dinner at a Casona, a Cuban flavored BYOB in Collinswood NJ. We had three whites at our table; Matusalem, 10 Cane and Cruzan. Our table of eight emptied the Matusalem, dabled in the 10 Cane and nobody liked the Cruzan.

    Cheers, Michael

    • Scottes Says:

      I heartily recommend the Matusalem line. I love them all.

      The Cruzan line is best used for mixers, though I do like to sip their Single Barrel. However, I often mix that, too. It works in a lot of things.

      The 10Cane is designed for cocktails, and works in many, but I have never been thrilled by it.

      • Omelio Ramirez Says:

        Try Bacardi Gold with Coke and lemon, i like it better than with the Superior

        (A Cuban “mentirita” drinker mentirita meaning little lie because the Cuban name for that drink is “Cuba Libre” (Free Cuba which doesn’t exists)

  18. AC Says:

    Last time I bought Havana Club Blanco was last year in Tijuana, Mexico. It was all of $9. Great stuff, and it’s cool to be able to make a “real” Cuba Libre (with addition of cane sugar Coke also available in Tijuana).

  19. Carlos Says:

    Bacardi superior in a rum and coke is good but captain Morgan does a better job at that. Also, people get tired of the sweet and spicy mix of Morgan and so try something else. Bacardi is cheap and easy to drink but a bit harsh for me at times.

  20. Scottes Says:

    Carlos, you should try some other rums beyond Bacardi and Captain Morgan. Replace Bacardi White/Superior with some Ron Matusalem Platino. Replace the Captain Morgan with most anything else – I highly recommend Foursquare Spiced, which I think is fantastic.

    If you find the Bacardi to be too harsh, try some Prichard’s Crystal. It’s extremely smooth.

    • Carlos Says:

      Hey Scott,

      Bacardi is nice now and then but I perfer chivas regal to mix with my coke. Bacardi is a bit too overrated and hype up for the media as a “perfered” rum to mix in with your coke. I will try your recommendations and post a reply back to you.

      Thanks again!

      • Scottes Says:

        Hmmm. If you like Chivas & Coke, then I doubt that Coke mixed with any white rum would be worth your time. Perhaps a fairly complex dark rum – like an older El Dorado or even Appleton VS since you seem to like spices.

      • Carlos Says:

        Chivas being a malt blend whiskey I tend to mix it with my coke since it has a sweet taste to it but with a warm burn down the mouth. Bacardi has more of an ethanol after taste to it and I bought myself a bottle this morning just to see if I have a palet for it.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    From my experiences drinking Rum & Coke, the rum used was always a spiced rum (Captain Spiced Rum or Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum). I have never had a Rum & Coke with a white rum but I could imagine the disgusting taste you experienced, good sir. When I think of mixing a white rum I imagine tropical mixers or endless combinations of tropical juices (pineapple, grapefruit, mango [especially delicious as a daiquiri]).

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