Vintage Cellars

Best of Whisky and Rum 2023: What’s happening in the world of rum

The rise of craft rum is great news for rum lovers and those ready to journey further into full-flavoured dark spirits. Here are three of the best rums to try.


Rum worldwide has always enjoyed a tropical and warm climate persona, giving the drinker a sense of sun-filled days and swaying palm trees. For a long time, the epicentre of this beloved spirit has been the Caribbean, but this perception and dominance are slowly shifting. Old, underinvested infrastructure and low yields create opportunity elsewhere – namely, our backyard of Australia.

With consistently high-quality sugar cane, the Lucky Country has a shot at taking the world by storm with a swelling rum industry. Adam Fagg, Venue Manager at the Gold Coast’s Beenleigh Artisan Distillery, strongly agrees with this notion. “For a long time, there have been a handful of big players in the rum industry worldwide, but this is shifting and being pushed along by demand domestically. I think people’s opinion of this spirit is changing quite quickly, and it’s great to see the demographic of those drinking it is moving with the increase too.” 

Gin, craft beer, and natural wines are certainly having their moments – but does this mean rum is next? “Rum is in prime position and ready to be taken seriously,” Adam says. “A lot of our patrons are getting, you might say, nerdy and into the technical side of rums – what gives them their specific smells, textures, and tastes. The sophistication associated with other drinks is now being connected to this humble spirit, and rightly so.”


Read on to see which rums impressed the judges in the 2023 Best of Whisky and Rum Awards, and find out how to make a classic Rum Old Fashioned cocktail.

Premium rum

Made using only the finest ingredients, these dark rums place high importance on a distinct aging process. Older isn’t always better, though – there is a sweet spot. Another aspect is the use of repurposed barrels from other spirits. It isn’t unusual to find ex-bourbon and cognac casks used to impart interesting nuances to these premium spirits. Top-quality aged rums display a darkened appearance and are best sipped neat over ice.


Winner Premium Rum – Appleton Estate Black River Cask 15YO
Jamaican limestone-filtered water is the vital ingredient in the blending of rare pot and column-crafted rums, which age for a minimum of 15 years. Deeply complex and luscious to drink with notes of toasted almond and rich vanilla.

Australian craft rum

As the Australian drinking public shifts their tastes to drinking better rather than more, craft examples of any spirit, beer, or wine have seen demand skyrocket. “We’re seeing a lot more women interested in rum now, and whether it’s guys drinking rum neat or ladies enjoying cocktails, people are demanding good quality in whatever format they choose to drink,” Adam says.


Winner Craft Rum – Beenleigh Double Cask Rum

Beenleigh’s Double Cask Rum is internationally and nationally recognised for its superior craft flavours and medium aging of 5 years, giving it a rich honey-like appearance and toffee flavour profile.

How to make a Rum Old Fashioned cocktail

This is the best rum cocktail to make if you want to appreciate the complex flavours in your craft rum.


Ingredients (serves 2)


20ml Cawsey’s Sugar Syrup

4 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters

120ml Beenleigh Double Cask Rum

Large ice cubes, to serve

Orange rind, to serve


1 Divide the sugar syrup and bitters between 2 rocks serving glasses. Stir to combine.

2 Divide rum between the glasses and add the ice. Stir to combine.

3 Rub orange rind around the rim of the glasses. Garnish with orange rind to serve.


Products featured are available from 17/05/23 to 27/06/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.