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Long condemned as the drink of pirates and other ne’er-do-wells, today, rum is a much more refined drink that deserves its place alongside the finest spirits.

With that in mind,  here are five of the most luxurious bottles on the market -- all well worth the trouble to find and all the embodiment of perfection. Just please don’t drown any of these luxury rums in cola.

 

Pyrat XO Reserve

£38 per 700 ml bottle

 

When you pick up a bottle of Pyrat XO Reserve, the first thing you’ll notice is its special packaging: The bottle shows up wrapped in ribbons and medallions, so right off the bat you know you’re in for something good.

 

In the glass, you’ll notice a deep amber colour and a bouquet filled with notes of orange and grapefruit marmalade. On the tongue, this luxury rum is packed with all sorts of wonderful flavours: apricot, banana, orange, vanilla, and dark honey. There’s a smoothness to this rum that’s accentuated by its rich, delicious flavour and it finishes with notes of spice and dried orange peel.

 

Neisson Rhum Reserve Special

£30 per 1 litre bottle

 

Neisson Rhum Reserve Special is a blend of aged rums aged for an extra 10 years in oak barrels. This is a handcrafted artisanal rum, produced slowly to ensure the most aromatic product. The sugar cane that goes into each bottle is harvested, processed, fermented, and distilled according to the strictest national guidelines. And the result is a deep gold luxury rum with a wonderfully balanced body. Many rum experts suggest that the use of sugar cane instead of molasses lends a particularly refined character to the rum, and this bottle is no exception.

 

You’ll pick up toffee and caramel aromas, and you’ll taste hints of vanilla, dried dark fruits, roasted nuts and spices, and a warm, lingering and slightly sweet finish. This one is a winner, no matter the occasion.

 

Pusser’s Navy Rum Trafalgar Bicentenary Decanter

£55 per 1 litre bottle

 

This is a limited edition bottle of Prusser’s 15-year-old navy rum that comes in a special decanter commemorating Nelson’s famous victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar. Although the bottle itself is special, more special is the rum inside. Prusser’s prides itself on distilling its rum according to the best traditional formula -- in wooden-pot stills that impart a small amount of flavour from previous batches to each new batch -- and using no flavouring agents so as to produce the most full-flavoured, intense rum possible.

 

For this reason, Prusser’s is known as the “single malt of rum;” the group is simply one of the best distillers of navy rum in the business today.

Only 36,000 bottles of this luxury rum have been produced, so needless to say, if you happen upon a bottle, it’s worth picking up.

 

Appleton Estate 21-Year-Old Jamaica Rum

£45 per 750 ml bottle

Appleton’s family of rums is known for being among the best on the popular market, and this bottle of 21-year-old blended rum is simply one of the best -- the crowning achievement of a group that has been producing rum for more than 250 years.

 

This particular bottle is a rare blend of some of the world’s finest aged rums. Each is aged more than 21 years and brings to the mix its own special characteristics. The result is a bottle whose whole is greater than the sum of its excellent parts.

 

This is a smooth sipping rum that leaves a lasting impression, no matter how sophisticated your rum palate. On the tongue it starts with notes of nuts, caramel, vanilla, and oak, giving a smooth, spicy and sophisticated taste. It finishes with a lingering, exquisite spice and a slight dusting of cocoa.

 

Appleton’s 21-year-old is the world’s most exclusive rum blend, with a production run of only about 2,000 cases annually. It’s hard to find, but well worth the trouble. Think of it as being more akin to a fine cognac than any rum you’ve had before.

 

Zacapa Centenario, 23-Year-Old

£30 per 750 ml bottle

 

Ron Zacapa Centenario is simply a legend in the rum community, and if ever there were a must-have bottle for any serious drinker, this is it. The 23-year-old Zacapa Centenario blend has won so many tasting competitions (it was a first-place winner in the Premium Rums category at the Caribbean Week's Rum Tasting Competitions from 1998 to 2002) that it has been retired as a contender. It is now the benchmark used to measure other premium bottles.

 

Ron Zacapa Centenario’s distillation begins at sea level before the spirit is taken to an ageing facility in the mountains; this step is said to bring to the bottle its characteristic body, flavour and aroma. More than this, every step in the production process is a testament to attention to detail. It takes time to produce a quality luxury rum such as this, and distillers La Nacional are happy to wait if it means producing the best possible product.

 

As it tumbles into the glass, look for this rum’s special dark-brown amber colour. On the nose, it begins with oak, marzipan, chocolate, orange, and coffee, while on the tongue, you’ll notice a warm, round and sensual feel that’s smooth and creamy. Look for notes of tannins, nutmeg, toasted hazelnut, and a hint of caramel, while the finish is characterized with great balance of lots of coffee and cocoa.

 

Luxurious Liquor

And there you have it: Proof that rum is no longer just the drink of a lower class of people and that this wonderful drink need not be drowned in cola to be enjoyed. Savour any of these five luxury rums over a few chips of ice and you’ll be converted.

 

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