The Top Rums According To New York International Spirits Competition

The Top Rums According To New York International Spirits Competition

The New York International Spirits Competition (NYISC) is an annual judging of spirits that takes place in New York City each spring. It’s unusual in that it is one of the few that rely entirely on judges drawn exclusively from the beverage trade.

According to Adam Levy, the founder of the competition, judges in the trade “whose livelihood rely upon their skill set, truly know what consumers wants, as they receive on a daily basis the feedback from the consumer of what is good and what will sell.”

The competition hands out the usual array of medals: Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze. This year, there were eight rum expressions that won Double Gold medals.

Barrell Craft Rum, Private Release B547, NAS, 54% ABV, 750 ml, $109

Barrel Craft Spirits is a Louisville based independent blender and bottler of “unique, aged, cask strength sourced whiskey and rum.” It was founded by Joe Beatrice, a former marketing and technology entrepreneur, in 2013.

According to the company:

Our goal is to select and blend products that explore different distillation methods, barrels and aging environments and bottle them at cask strength. Every batch is produced as a limited release and has an intentionally distinct flavor profile.


The company has won numerous medals over the last several years, firmly establishing itself as a rising star in the universe of American spirits.

The official tasting notes describe the rum as:

Served at cask strength with a slight burn as it is encircled by a blend of citrus fruit and apple in the nose. Dark sugar and light spice coat the tongue before the light hints of dark sugar on the slow burn finish.

Cutwater Spirits, Three Sheets, Cask Strength Rum, NAS, 64% ABV, 750 ml, $90

Cutwater Spirits is a San Diego based distiller of a broad array of spirits founded by Master Distiller Yuseff Cherney. The Three Sheets Cask Strength Rum is produced at the distillery and aged in Char #3 American oak barrels. The limited-edition rum is bottled from a single barrel at a time when it is judged ready. Each bottle is hand numbered.

The official tasting notes from the judging panel describe the rum as:

Oak and vanilla with its cask strength abv engages the nose when the glass is raised. It softly coats the tongue with leather and vanilla layers before a long finish with spice on the end.

Twenty Boat Hand Crafted Cape Cod White Rum, NAS, 40% ABV, 750 ml, $25

Twenty Boat is a twice distilled unaged (white) rum produced from 100% organic sugar cane in the style of the Agricole rum produced in the French West Indies.

The official tasting notes from the judging panel described the rum as:

A clear white rum distilled from sugar cane bringing a freshness to the nose. A light sugar sweetness coats the tongue with a fine burn and would be best as a base in most rum cocktails.

Bacardi, Gran Reserva Diez, 10 YO, 40% ABV, 750 ml, $41

The Bacardi Gran Reserva is aged for a minimum of 10 years before it is filtered through the company’s proprietary charcoal filtration process. The filtration process, which historically has used coconut shell charcoal, was developed by the company’s founder Don Facundo Bacardi. He was also responsible for identifying the yeast strain that is used to produce the company’s rums.

The rum is a veritable fruit bomb, offering up flavors ranging from pear and peach to tropical fruit notes of banana and pineapple. The official tasting note from the judging panel described it as having:

… nice legs for a 10 year old with hints of banana and coconut in the nose. It lays well in the mouth with soft layers of vanilla, banana and oak before a medium long finish with a fine coating of oak and hints of spice.

Brugal 1888, Doblemente Añejado,14 YO, 40% ABV, 750 ml, $45

Brugal is a rum distiller in the Dominican Republic that dates to 1888, hence the date on the label. The rum spends eight years maturing in ex-bourbon casks followed by six years in Oloroso Sherry butts. The term Doblemente Añejado means double aged.

Brugal 1888 was first released in 2013. It was the first new rum expression after the company was acquired by Edrington, the owners of several spirit brands, most notably the Macallan and Highland Park whisky distilleries.

Sherry matured rums are unusual but becoming increasingly available. The combination of sweet dried fruit and nuts meshes elegantly with the caramel/brown sugar, wood spice and chocolate notes of the original rum. At $40 for a 14 YO rum, it’s also an exceptional value.

The official tasting notes of the judging panel described the rum as:

A dark amber spirit with spices and chocolate on the nose. Layers well in the mouth with nice body and licorice on the edges followed by a long finish with hints of wood on the end.

End of Days Distillery, Port of Entry Rum, NAS, 42% ABV, 750 ml, $23

The End of Days Distillery is headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was founded and is still managed by Shane and Beth Faulkner. The rum is made from 100% molasses and raw cane sugar, and is described by the company as a “sweet yet buttery spirit … that is complex without being overpowering.”

The official tasting note from the judging panel described it as:

A clear rum with a medley of sweetness including molasses on the nose. It is crisp and not syrupy in the mouth with continued balanced sweetness followed by a medium finish and hints of butterscotch.

Tanduay Double Rum, 5 YO/16 YO, 40% ABV, 750 ml, $50

Tanduay is one of the world’s oldest, dating to 1855, and largest rum producers. It’s one of the world’s 10 largest spirit brands. Based in the Philippines, the brand is ubiquitous in Asia but its US presence is small, although it has been growing rapidly. That’s a pity because Tanduay is really one of the world’s great rums with a distinctive flavor profile that makes an outstanding sipping rum.

The Tanduay Double Rum consists of a blend of 16 YO and 5 YO rums that are matured in ex-bourbon casks. After blending together, they are allowed to marry for two more years, again in ex-bourbon casks, before finally being bottled. It’s not clear what the correct age statement should be under TTB regulations, but frankly it doesn’t really matter. It’s a great rum at a very affordable price. Its distinctive aroma and taste profile offers up flavors of tropical dried fruits, candied orange peel, toasted nuts and cooked pineapple wrapped around a smooth, satiny rum.

The official tasting note from the judging panel described Tanduay Double Rum as having a:

Deep copper color with a mix of sugar and dark honey in the nose. Finely layered without being syrupy with a presence of brown sugar and a medium finish with a light tropical medley.

Copalli Barrel Rested Cask Strength, 1.5 YO, 59% ABV, 750 ml, $39.99

Copalli is a Belizean single estate organic rum made from only three ingredients: sugar cane juice, rainwater and yeast. Following distillation, the rum is aged in ex-bourbon barrels. This is a pungent, earthy rum reminiscent of Jamaican white rums or some of the Rhum Agricole from the French West Indies.

The official tasting notes described the rum as having:

Hints of coconut and time in the barrel fill the nose. A tropical medley that comes from being distilled from heirloom sugar cane is in the mouth with a medium finish with a continued oak presence.

Aged brown rums are the fastest growing segment of the rum category. For many bourbon and whisky drinkers, they offer a desirable aroma and flavor profile, make excellent sippers, and are incredibly affordable. This year’s selection of Double Gold medalists from the NYISC offer a varied mix of styles. If you are a rum aficionado there is plenty to explore here. If you’re not, this list is a good place to start.


Published at Sun, 16 May 2021 11:00:00 +0000