Rum Of The Year - 2022
Updated: Dec 28, 2022
What an amazing year - this year I have reviewed a quite astonishing 110 rums from 16 different countries!!
That fact alone really emphasises the growing diversity in rums available to us here in Europe. Great, great news for anyone wanting to explore this diverse and wonderful spirit.
As always, when selecting my rum of the year I have tried to not only select an outstanding bottle but also to consider price and availability. My very loose criteria are - ideally a rum released in 2022, certainly one I reviewed in 2022.
I'm looking for rum that I felt was great value and brought something new & special to the already diverse world of rum & rhum.
I have quite a list of 2022 releases I still plan review (in many cases, still hope to acquire!) so bottles like the Antipodes Mhoba 5yr, Velier Amrut, 2010 NRJ Long Pong STCE and the two LMDW Worthy Park single casks that I have tried, and have been super impressed with, are not in the running this year. Reviews of these special releases coming soon...
2022 ... demand, and prices, seem to have jumped, again!
A few new names. And a lot of limited releases. In fact, on the surface every bottle appears to be a 'must have' limited release making it absolutely key to be able to pick the quality from the marketing hype.
Before getting to the winners. Here's a random splattering of my highlights of 2022 ...
Hampden - leading the way, cashing in on the rapid growth in the rum market by releasing younger or higher priced 'uber premium' rums.
Elliot Erwitt Magnum series 5yr (reviewed here)
Habitation Velier <H> 5yr (reviewed here)
The new Habitation Velier HES 3yr, and DOK 5yr (reviews coming soon)
Great House 2022 mostly 3yr (reviewed here)
Pagos - an interesting sherry cask aged Hampden (reviewed here)
Papalin - Hampden and Worthy Park blends (reviewed here)
Stupidly expensive long aged Velier single casks (absolutely delicious but £400-500 a bottle!?!!? making reviews rather unlikely!)
Beautiful new coffret 8-mark collection (an exception here, a well-priced, stunningly presented set of 8 unaged marks)
Don't get me wrong, my love affair with Hampden rum remains unwavering, and some of their younger releases are spectacular. My moan is that the price seems to increase while the age decreases. It's all about value. Young is a lose term anyway - tropical aging of even just a few years can have a profound impact on the rum. Maybe I'm looking at this upside down and should be celebrating the years we had of affordable, 10+ year 'estate aged' gems :-) I reviewed some of these gems in my ultimate LROK tasting (here)
Worthy Park - no reviews this year from this wonderful estate, something I shall remedy asap in 2023. Actually, that's not entirely true as Worthy Park features heavily in the Velier Papalin blends (reviewed here).
Long Pond - My love affair with Long Pond rums was most definitely challenged in my extreme rum tasting (here).
Great news to see another National Rums of Jamaica STCE. Can't wait to review this gem.
Clarendon - My ultimate Clarendon/Monymusk taste-off was most certainly a highlight of 2022 (here).
The pot still Mount Gay and sherry cask aged Foursquare rums were my standouts of the Elliot Erwitt Magnum series (reviewed here)
Foursquare's ECS releases continue to be highlights of the rum calendar. 2022 saw a new zinfandel cask aged rum - 'Indelible' (compared to the original Zin cask here), a 14 year sherry cask release - 'Sovereignty' (compared to previous 14yr sherry cask releases here), and their longest tropically aged release to date - 'Isonomy' (reviewed here).
And, of course, LFT - wow, just wow. You can read more here.
Trinidad - Caroni prices jumped significantly again this year. So sad to see these beautiful beasts being relegated to collector's category. I reviewed some 97 & 98 this year (here).
Rum festivals awesome to have these opportunities to meet rum fam and try an unhealthy number of excellent new rums. Looking forward to rumfest and whiskylive 2023!
New distilleries - Distillery de Port-au-Prince in Haiti is going from strength to strength. I reviewed their latest Providence rum at the tail end of 2021 (here) and eagerly await delivery of a pair of stunning Velier bottlings released at WhiskyLive in Paris this summer.
Papa Rouyo in Guadeloupe released its first rums this year - very special indeed! Definitely one to watch.
A1710 in Martinique continue to impress, now a staple in the secret rum bar.
And 2022 saw the first lightly aged releases from Renegade distillery in Granada - sadly these didn't really work for me, but the quality of their unaged rums is excellent, so I'll certainly be giving them another try.
French Caribbean - Anyone who's joined one of my rum tastings will have no doubt as to my passion for the rhums of Martinique, Guadeloupe & Marie Galante. In particular the unaged offerings that deliver beautiful, fresh flavours so special to cane juice rum/rhum. This year I did extensive reviews of rhums from Neisson (here) and Pere Labat (here).
Independent bottlers - Another great year for the independents. Thompson Brothers, Boutique-y Rum, Holmes Cay, SBS and Colours of Rum continue to impress with their barrel picks. Masters of Malt are also worth a mention here - their 2022 bottlings have offered unmatched value for superb quality rums. And, finally, Velier & Habitation Velier need little introduction with their 'dependant' approach resulting in so many amazing co-bottlings.
My extensive Boutique-y review of 2022 releases can be found here.
South Africa - Mhoba's 5 year aged Antipodes rum, and their 1802 cognac cask aged are without question the review I'm most looking forward to in early 2023 !
Madeira - It'll be no surprise to anyone who's read my recent 4 part mini-series on Madeira rum to find a mention of these hidden gems here. Take a look at Madeira's fascinating and unique rum industry & history (here). Their 5 distilleries and a few bars (here). Unaged rums from each distillery fighting it out (here). And a giant, quick fire review of several aged rums (here).
No more rambling on ... or scrolling down :-) .... The shortlist...
Foursquare Isonomy - Barbados - reviewed here
Pere Labat 59 - Guadeloupe - reviewed here
Engenho Novo, Amarone Cask - Madeira - reviewed here
VA Spirits Balancal - Madeira - reviewed here
Habitation Velier Hampden LROK 2010 (US release) - reviewed here
An the winner???
It's outstanding value, it's actually available, it's a punchy, delicious example of Madeira cane juice rum. The Amarone cask aging gives us a deep, tannic, simply stunning rum.
Enhgenho Novo & Master of Malt take a bow, awesome rum! Awesome value! Secret Rum Bar - Rum of the Year 2022!
Bring on 2023...