National Rum Day may have come and gone, but there is no time like the present to enjoy the Jamaican rum ranked by Jackie Summers, a spirits industry expert based in New York, as one of the top three rums of 2020.
Summers, an author, entrepreneur, educator, and public speaker, noted that he had grandparents who were immigrants from the Caribbean and so rum represented an integral part of his upbringing. It was an ingredient in the foods they cooked, and it was part of every celebration. He believes that in the current environment of cultural appropriation, it is critical that consumers of alcohol become educated about the products they purchase. According to Summers, the rum industry has its roots in colonization, so he wants to know the sources for sugarcane and molasses, who controls the supply chain, and if indigenous populations have an ownership stake in the things that contribute to the final product.
The Funk Unaged Pot Still Jamaican Rum was ranked Number 2 on the list of the top rums of 2020. This is a 100-proof rum that is unaged, not watered down, and has no taste of colorants or additives. Summers says it is “just pure Jamaican funk” and that drinkers can “almost taste the grassy fields of sugarcane swaying in the salty breeze.” The Funk can be best enjoyed taken neat in a glass.
Derrick Walker, a bar manager with 40 years of experience at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, placed another Jamaican rum on the list: Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve Rum. Walker notes that the Jamaica Inn is “steeped in tradition” and its favorite rums come from the two of Jamaica’s most historic distilleries, the Worthy Park Estate and the Appleton Estate. Both make excellent rums that are complex and have considerable depth of flavor. The bar manager of Trailer Happiness in London Gergo Murath chose Worthy Park Single Estate as his “desert island rum.” He describes it as a pure pot still rum that has no additives of flavorings. He says, “it’s essentially liquid, alcoholic banana bread.” It is great by itself or mixed in cocktails, or just added to a glass of pineapple juice. For an authentic Jamaican-type celebration, Murath recommends playing a game of dominoes with rum cocktails on hand.
The full list of Top 9 rums for 2020 includes Don Q Gran Añejo rum from Puerto Rico; The Funk Unaged Pot Still Jamaican Rum; Ron Colón Salvadoreño Coffee-Infused High Proof Rum of the South Pacific; Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve Rum from Jamaica; Equiano Rum, a blend of African and Caribbean flavors; Ron Zacapa Centenario from Guatemala; Don Papa Rum from the Philippines; Foursquare Rum Distillery Nobiliary from Barbados; and Ten to One Caribbean White and Dark Rums of Trinidad and Tobago.