Saturday, September 23, 2023

17 Best Rum Brands in India: A Guide to the Finest Rums

So, you are a rum lover keen on knowing about the best rum brands in India. Your search ends with Duniakagyan – the go-to resource for all the Gyan in the world.

There’s something special about rum. Its smooth texture and delectable sugary taste are worth savoring on a chilly evening, whether neat, on the rocks, or in a mojito. Since its origins in the 17th-century Caribbean sugar plantations, the liquor has maintained its distinctiveness and cult status. Curious? Let’s trace the history and the evolution of the oldest branded spirit.

History and Evolution of Rum

Ancient Indians knew how to ferment and distill sugarcane juice, as evidenced by certain scriptures. They called it SHIDHU. Rum prototypes were also popular in ancient Malaya and Persia (modern-day Iran). However, history credits the Caribbean slaves working on sugarcane plantations for inventing rum as we know it today.

Nobody knows who, but someone just fermented and distilled the molasses abundant on the plantations. The resultant beverage is just too exotic, with locals drinking it for pleasure. Mind you; spirits were restricted to medical use before this. Gradually, rum exploded in popularity, spreading to Europe and beyond and emerging as an exchange currency in the triangle trade in place of French brandy.

What was initially associated with slaves and bootleggers gradually penetrated popular culture. Be it, Jack Sparrow’s funny antics with a bottle of rum in the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Gloria Estefan’s smash hit “Cuba Libre,” or countless TV shows, rum is a cultural icon. It’s everywhere and for everyone. London, Bristol, Jamaica, and Miami even host rum festivals.

If you go by stats, rum is the next big thing in spirits, globally. Per STATISTA:
  • It raked in USD 14.39 billion in revenue in 2022, an upturn from USD 10 billion in 2019.
  • The global rum market is likely to grow at an impressive rate of 10.45% yearly from 2022 to 2025.
  • The US remains the biggest market, accounting for USD 2,452 million in sales in 2022.
  • The volume growth in 2023 is likely to be 7%. Come 2025; the rum production will be 1,021.2ML.

The popularity of rum in India is undisputed, generating over USD 2 billion in sales in 2021. The revenue will likely hit the USD 3 billion mark in 2025, meaning more Indians will be drinking rum in the coming times. That’s obviously an encouraging sign for the best rum brands in India.


Nothing is definitive about how the spirit got the name. But for many, it comes from another sugarcane drink, “rum bullion,” popular in the 17th century. Some even derive the word’s origin from the term, “rumbustion,” meaning commotion or confusion. That’s perhaps due to the state of a rum drinker after one drink too many. The credit for mainstreaming the term goes to “The General Court of Connecticut,” which ordered the classification of all drinks of Caribbean origin in 1654.

Interestingly, rum is referred to differently by different people, depending on their location or mother tongue. Some call it rum, Rhum Agricole, Rhum traditional, Nelson’s Blood, Kill-Devil, and Demon Water while for others, it is Pirate’s Drink, Navy Neaters, Barbados Water, Screech, and Tafia.

How Rum is Made by the Best Rum Brands in India

Specifications may vary, but distilleries adhere to a standard process to produce the best rum brands in India. These include:

1. Harvesting

For this crowd-puller, it all starts in a sugarcane field. The field is usually set on fire to steer clear of unwanted grass, leaves, scorpions, snakes, and the like. Thanks to the high fluid content, the cane survives the fire. The cane is cut as close to the ground as possible, as the sugar concentration is maximum in this part. Usually, harvesting happens within a day of burning to retain sugar quality.

2. Sugar Extraction

The harvested cane has to undergo washing to get rid of the dirt. Next, the milling process comes into play wherein the cane is squeezed to release the juice while the molasses are the byproduct. This thick substance forms the basis of all rums when fermented.

3. Fermentation

Next, distilleries subject the molasses and the cane juice to fermentation, forming a ‘wash,’ which resembles a beer with 5 to 10 ABV. Upon distillation, the wash gives way to rum. The fermentation gets underway when molasses and juice are boiled and left to cool down to 28 degrees C. Then, yeast is added to convert sugars into alcohol and the wort is left to ferment for a few days under a controlled temperature. There’s an outlet that allows CO2 to break loose but restricts the entry of oxygen.

4. Distillation

Once the ‘wash’ is ready, the distillation process takes over. To this end, some rely on the Copper Pot Distillation method while others prefer Column Still Distillation. The former is wasteful, painstaking, and non-continuous but guarantees flavorful rums, making it ideal for Rhum Agricole. On the other hand, the latter is a continuous process and results in stronger, neutral spirits.

5. Aging

For aging rum, the best rum brands in India rely on American oak casks to achieve greater control over the flavoring and finishing. Thank the American oak casks if you appreciate smooth, balanced, and flavorful rum. The size of the casks is deliberately kept smaller to increase the wood-to-spirit ratio. The higher the ratio, the lower will be the maturation time. Distilleries even insert charred oak chips to duplicate the flavoring achieved through aging in oak barrels. The time spent in the barrels is rum-specific, higher in the case of the darker varieties.

6. Blending

Your favorite drink is ready once it is blended. Herein, the master craftsmen ply their trade to render the rum its character and aroma. However, this is also the stage where some shady brands might resort to unhealthy and illegitimate practices to cover up the rum’s age, origin, and other factors that decide its quality. Rarely, though, brands might use single-cask run maturation, wherein they only bottle rums from a single cask.

Types of Rums

Now that the history and production process is out of the way, it’s time to get familiar with the types of rums. Let’s introduce a caveat. There are no classification criteria for rum, as regulations on aging and labeling are missing. So, let’s classify the best rum brands in India for their origin and character.


Rum imbibes characteristics from the country of its origin or the country’s former colonizers. That’s because the quality of cane and production and blending methods vary from country to country.

  • English: Aged for a year minimum, these rums bear heavier color and an intense molasses flavor. Rums distilled in England and many Caribbean islands fall in this category.
  • Spanish: Characterized by a more sugary, crisper taste, these rums are light and have spent less or no time in barrels. They come from former Spanish colonies like Cuba, Panama, and more.
  • French: Originating in Haiti, Martinique, and other French colonies, these rums are a result of Column Still Distillation and 5-plus years of aging in cognac casks.


The color and body could be the key classification criteria for rums.

1. White Rum

It lacks color, hence the name. They age white rums for a year or less and subject them to charcoal filtration to get rid of the color before bottling. The ABV is brand-specific, usually between 80 to 40 percent. A bartender’s delight, these rums lend themselves well to all popular ingredients. Call it clear rum, light rum, silver rum, or white rum; the essence remains the same.

Best White Rum Brands
Bacardi Superior Mount Gay Silver Rubi Rey
Owney’s White Rum Anejo Blanco 10 Cane

2. Dark Rum

As the name says it all, they have a darker complexion than the light rums. The flavor profile is also much more complex and robust, thanks to prolonged fermentation and aging. Sip them solo, replace whiskeys in cocktails, or use them for a rum punch – it’s up to you. The ABV is relatively lower, 38 percent, while the cost is higher than most rums.

Best Dark Rum Brands
Myers’s Original Dark Rum Cruzan Black Strap Rum Flor De Caña 5
Goslings Reserve Old Rum Barbancourt 3 Star Diplomático Añejo

3. Black Rum

Rum doesn’t get any dark-hued, richer, and heavy-bodied than this. Aged for several years in whiskey barrels, it bears 40 percent ABV and delivers a delectable caramel flavor.

Best Black Rum Brands
Gosling’s Black Seal Wood’s 100 Cruzan Black Strap
Skipper Demerara Papa’s Pilar Dark 24 Rum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale

4. Navy Rum

As the name suggests, it is linked to the British and US navies, providing rum rations in the 19th century. It’s full-bodied, moderate in strength, and bottled at 54 to 57 percent ABV. Navy rum goes well with tiki drinks, where it retains its distinctness and flavor.

Best Navy Rum Brands
Lamb’s Navy Rum Lemon Hart Black Tot Last Consignment
Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Wood’s 100 Skipper Demerara

5. Rhum Agricole

Rhum Agricole is unique because it is made from cane juice, not molasses. Exclusive to the French Caribbean Islands, Thailand, and Australia, the rum undergoes prolonged aging to achieve a smooth, exotic taste. Bottled at 40 percent ABV, it exudes a fruity flavor.

Best Rhum Agricole Brands:
Clément VSOP Rhum Vieux Rhum J.M 10 Year Cuvee Homere
Neisson L’Esprit Blanc Depaz Blue Cane Amber St. James Hors d’Age

6. Overproof Rum

The name denotes a more intense alcohol concentration. It’s usually bottled at 160 to 190 proof (50 percent or above ABV), making it ideal for those seeking an extra kick. Consuming it with ice is advisable to calm down the burning sensation on the lips and tongue.

Best Overproof Rum Brands:
Hamilton 151 Worthy Park Rum-Bar Lemon Hart Rum 151
El Dorado 151 Cruzan 151 Matusalem 151 Red Flame

Why Should You Drink Rum, In Moderation, Of Course?

Even though you don’t need a reason to sip the best rum brands in India, knowing its health benefits will nonetheless release the guilt of drinking.

  • Imparts Warmth: Rum is the preferred winter drink, thanks to the warmth it generates.
  • Remedies common cold: Rum’s antibacterial properties make it a panacea for common colds and minor injuries.
  • Lowers the Risk of Diabetes: Rum can help lower your blood sugar levels, thereby warding off diabetes.
  • Relieves Muscle Pain: Rum helps relax muscles and relieve pain. However, it cannot substitute subscription medicine.
  • Lowers the Risk of Osteoporosis: With rum consumption, bone density increases, keeping osteoporosis at bay.
  • Longevity: Though evidence is lacking, rum consumption is linked to longevity, adding 2 to 5 years to your life. Wonder why they named the best Indian rum brand, Old Monk?
  • Improves Heart Health: Rum can lead to improving specific heart health markers. It dilutes blood to deter clot formation and boosts High-Density Lipoproteins – the ‘good cholesterol.’

The bottom line is moderation. Mind you; excessive drinking can be detrimental to health.

How to Enjoy Rum? 

Something as versatile and delectable as rum can be savored in many ways. Here are a few proven tips to enjoy the best rum brands in India, whether alone, or in a bar or party.

  1. Neat or on the Rocks: Cocktails are great but some rums are exotic enough to be enjoyed on their own, either neat or on the rocks. Just let the rum’s flavors and aromas overpower you.
  2. Cocktails: From Mojitos to Daiquiris and Piña Coladas, some cocktails are incomplete without a dash of rum. Feel free to experiment with different recipes to zero in on something that suits your taste buds and mood.
  3. Pairings: The spirit lends itself well to various foods. Chocolate, cheese, pineapple, mango, grilled meat, seafood, spicy foods – you name it. It’s wise to experiment with different combinations to find the best companion for your favorite rum.
  4. Tasting: So, you are a rum connoisseur, passionate about exploring different types of rum. In that case, attending a rum-tasting event can be considered. It’s your opportunity to sample a variety of rums and get a sneak peek into their origins, production methods, and tasting notes.
  5. Sipping Rum: If you get to lay your hands on a rare, aged rum, savor it slowly, on its own. Sipping a rum allows you to enjoy the flavor and aroma of a rare rum that evolved over time.

Again, enjoy rum responsibly and in moderation.

10 Best Rum Brands in India

With the Indian rum market growing rapidly, we see the emergence of brands. However, not all are created equal. Some have what it takes to deliver a better flavor profile and overall quality. With so many craft distilleries to select from, it’s challenging to zero in on something that suits your taste. Let’s narrow down your options with a well-curated list of the best rum brands in India.

1. The Best Rum Brands in India: Bacardi


  • Since: 1862
  • Founder: Don Facundo Bacardí Massó
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Price Range: INR 420 upwards (750ml)

Nothing comes close to the popularity of Bacardi rums. They come in all shapes and sizes with varying flavor profiles for all tastes and occasions. Light rums, dark rums, spiced rums, and ready-to-drink options, you name it. The 3-stage sugarcane refining, use of unique yeast, careful aging, multiple charcoal filters, and polishing filtration render Bacardi rums the characteristic taste, aromas, and looks.

The Brand Evolution

Founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó created two distinct distillates, aguardiente’ and ‘redestilado.’ The former had a strong character while the latter was lighter. He blended the two to come up with the most balanced rum ever. What started as a small-time operation in 1862 soon went international with a diverse client base. Today, it’s the most publicized rum brand that owns some award-winning labels and sells over 6 million BACARDÍ Cuba Libre cocktails daily.

Our Recommendations

Bacardi spiced rum is best if you seek a bold and smooth taste. Aged to perfection, it has a solid flavor profile enhanced with mild vanilla and cinnamon.

Salient Features

  • Painstakingly crafted, aged, and blended for the best
  • Uses a proprietary yeast strain ‘La Levadura BACARDÍ’
  • An extensive variety for all tastes, occasions, and budgets
  • Aims at sustainable development with the ‘Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future initiative


Coconut Banana Raspberry
Pineapple Limon Dragonberry

2. The Best Rum Brands in India: Goslings

Goslings rum

  • Since: 1806
  • Founder: James Gosling
  • Country of Origin: Bermuda
  • Parent Company:
  • ABV: 40 to 75 percent
  • Price Range: Starting from INR 1600 (750ml)

Hailing from Bermuda, the home of rum, Goslings has been delighting Indian rum lovers with quality and variety. Since 1806, the company has enjoyed a strong presence across India and beyond, winning customer loyalty and even the Platinum Medal at the World Spirits Championship.

The Evolution

For Gosling, it all started with a failed journey in 1806 when an Englishman James Gosling set sail to the US. As fate would have it, he landed in Bermuda and set up a business. 18 years down the line, the store on Front Street came up, maintaining a presence for 127 years. After tinkering with the blending process, the company developed the signature Black Seal label by 1857.

Product Range

It has a reputation for producing some of the most iconic dark rums, the “Gosling Black Seal Rum 151” for one. Bottled at 80 proof, the rum transforms into the marque “Dark ‘N’ Stormy” cocktail when blended with Bermuda Ginger Beer. The Gosling’s Family Reserve has a darker complexion and a profound flavor profile, thanks to its prolonged aging. If you prefer something light, go for Gosling Gold Rum.


Gosling Black Seal Rum Gosling Family Reserve Old Rum Papa Seal Single Barrel Rum
Gosling Gold Seal Rum Gosling Black Seal Rum 151 Dark ‘N’ Stormy Cocktail

3. The Best Rum Brands in India: Malibu


  • Since: 1982
  • Founder: Tom Jago
  • Country of Origin: Barbados
  • Parent Company: Pernod Ricard Group
  • ABV: 21 percent
  • Price Range: 2980 (750ml) onwards

“Embodying the spirit of summers,” Malibu has entered the general Indian psyche like no other. It’s a fixture in parties, family reunions, and even Bollywood songs. Think of it as a light, mixable Caribbean rum with a refreshing coconut flavor – a brainchild of Tom Jago. The coconut aroma is accentuated by a fruity taste and versatility, making it one of India’s most loved rum brands. Whether it’s Pina Colada, lemonade, or any other popular drink, it’s mixable.

The Evolution

Malibu debuted in 1982 in Curacao but shifted the production to Barbados under West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd. The move helped the product grow qualitatively with top-grade ingredients and better quality control over the process. The company changed hands frequently, with Allied Domecq acquiring it for USD 800 million in 2002 only to sell it to Pernod Ricard for USD 14 billion in 2005. Aggressive and well-targeted branding and advertising helped the brand grow exponentially.

Product Range

Malibu caught the fancy of booze lovers for its unique taste. As the brand gained traction, other Malibu flavors, including strawberry, pineapple, lime, and more surfaced. Gradually, Malibu Black saw the light of day, which was well-received by rum lovers. The company also unleashed Malibu Red for tequila fans. As of now, a mint blend is also available, Malibu Fresh.

Our Recommendation

While 20% ABV is standard across all Malibu offerings, Malibu Black takes it to 35 percent, making it the strongest rum in the Malibu arsenal. Call it a blend of dark rum and coconut-flavored liqueur.


Original Watermelon Strawberry Passion fruit
Lime Pineapple Cola Pina Colada

4. The Best Rum Brands in India: Ron Zacapa Centenario

Ron Zacapa Centenario

  • Since: 1976
  • Country of Origin: Guatemala
  • Distributed by: Diageo
  • Parent Company: Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala
  • ABV: 40 percent
  • Price Range: Over INR 7,250 (750 ml)

Ron Zacapa automatically comes to mind when thoughts turn to premium rum brands. With the base of operations in Guatemala, the brand offers a select range of premium rums crafted with passion and innovative techniques. Interestingly, the brand went on to beat all rums in the International Rum Festival four years on the trot, from 1998 to 2001. Also, no rum ever made it to the International Rum Festival’s Hall of Fame before Ron Zacapa.

Innovative Production Method

  • Instead of molasses, it uses freshly milled sugarcane for an unmistakably sweet and silky smooth taste.
  • For fermentation, it leverages pineapple yeast to derive character, a fuller body, and delightful flavors.
  • The distillation process is elaborate enough to optimize the characteristic aroma and smoothness.
  • For maturation, it relies on an array of cask types (some of which have already hosted whiskeys) to ensure the perfect hues, textures, and flavors.
  • The aging happens at the height of 7545 feet to make the most of the cooler and humid ambiance for better flavor profiles.

The Brand Evolution

Zacapa was born to mark the centennial celebrations of the formation of the namesake city in Guatemala. Alejandro Burgaleta, a local physician, was responsible for developing the fermentation, distillation, blending, and aging processes. Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala owns the brand currently while Rum Creations takes care of the production process. For blending, the company relies on the brilliance of Lorena Vásquez, one of the few female master blenders in a predominantly male industry.

Product Range

What Zacapa lacks in quantity, it makes up with quality. The marque offerings include Zacapa No. 23, Zacapa Edición Negra, and Zacapa XO. While ABV remains 40% across the board, the aging duration, blending, finishing, flavor profile, and mixability vary. The Edición Negra is matured for 6 to 24 years in double-charred American oak casks to achieve a darker hue and smoky intensity.

Our Recommendation

Matured for 6 to 23 years, Zacapa No. 23 is a smooth, sumptuous, and full-bodied rum that starts with a hint of caramel, vanilla, and cocoa and ends with toffee, banana, and pineapple. Sip it neat, on the rocks, or in any dark cocktail.

Popular Variants

Zacapa No. 23 Zacapa Edición Negra Zacapa XO

5. The Best Rum Brands in India: El Dorado

El Dorado

  • Country of Origin: Guayana
  • Parent Company: Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL)
  • ABV: 40 percent onwards
  • Price Range: About INR 4500 (750 ml)

No rum brand in India embodies the Caribbean rum crafting traditions as El Dorado. The brand continues to persist with the wooden heritage stills to craft some of the finest vintage rums available in India. El Dorado’s deep, rich flavors come from aging in oak casks, aided by Guyana’s moist and steady temperature. The blending happens from different batches from different stills to accentuate the complexity and flavor profile.

The Brand Evolution

El Dorado’s ownership rests with Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL), the former world’s number two rum producer. Based in Georgetown, it is a semi-privatized company with a presence in multiple industries and sectors and stakes in the National Rums of Jamaica. Thanks to the quality focus, awards and loyalists have come thick and fast for El Dorado.

Product Range

El Dorado is associated with rums matured for 3, 5, 8, 12, 15, 21, and 25 years. From day one, El Dorado has stayed true to the time-honored traditions and global standards on age statement. The number on the label indicates the youngest rum in the blend while the oldest could be aged for several years more. Single Still Rums, Limited Releases, and Specialty Rums are also available.

Specialty Rums

Original Rum Cream Butter Pecan Rum Cream Espresso Rum Cream

Single Malt Stills

Enmore Single Still Port Mourant Single Still Versailles Single Still

Limited Releases

50th Anniversary Special Anniversary Master Blender’s
Rare Collection 12-Year-Old Cask Finish 15-Year-Old Cask Finish

6. The Best Rum Brands in India: Old Monk

Old Monk

  • Since: 1935
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Parent Company: Mohan Meakins
  • ABV: 42.8 percent
  • Price Range: About INR 450 (750 ml)

Make way for one of India’s oldest and most popular rum brands, Old Monk. So beloved is the brand that people use Old Monk and rum interchangeably. Selling over 8 million bottles yearly, the brand’s popularity rests solely on unflinching customer loyalty, referrals, easy availability, and reasonable price. From army canteens and specialty stores to Asian restaurants and pubs, it’s available across India and beyond.

Rum lovers vouch for Old Monk’s smooth, creamy consistency and delightful aromas of vanilla, caramel, and chocolate. Bottled at 42.8% ABV, though, it isn’t harsh. The dark rum is versatile – enjoyed neat and in cocktails. It results from top-grade materials, time-honored fermentation and distillation methods, and a minimum of 7 years of aging in charred oak casks. However, some blends can be over 50 years old. Best of all, it’s one of the most affordable options.

The Brand Evolution

Owned by Mohan Meakins, Old Monk made its way into the market in 1935. It was quick to gain ground and outsell the market leader, Hercules Rums, in India. Gradually, the brand went international, exporting to the US, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia. By the early 2000s, its domination declined with the emergence of newer rum brands.

At its peak, Old Monk was at the forefront of rum production and a recipient of several prestigious awards.

  • The biggest Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) brand
  • Ranked 5th at Impact International’s 2008 list of “Top 100 Brands At Retail Value”
  • Recipient of the gold medals at Monde Selections from 1982 onwards

Product Range

What started with a single product has diversified into a big rum portfolio. The brand now rolls out Old Monk in 7 dark and white options to cater to every taste and need. The Old Monk Legend – Limited Edition continues to be a crowd-puller with its delectable taste and great aromas that come from prolonged aging in charred oak barrels. The brand also unleashed “The Connoisseur Collection” featuring a wide variety of flavors.


Old Monk Supreme Rum Old Monk Gold Reserve Rum Old Monk Deluxe XXX
Old Monk XXX Rum Rum Old Monk White Rum Old Monk Legend


Orange Lemon Apple
Cola Cranberry Mojito

Bottle Sizes

90 ml 180 ml 375 ml 500ml 750 ml 1 liter

7. The Best Rum Brands in India: Mcdowell’s No. 1 Celebrations

Mcdowell’s No. 1 Celebrations

  • Since: 1991
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Parent Company: United Spirits Ltd
  • ABV: 42.8 percent
  • Color: Dark
  • Price Range: About INR 350 (750 ml)

For a growing number of Indians, drinking rum means drinking McDowell’s No. 1 Celebration Rum. Though we associate McDowell’s more with whiskeys, Celebration Rum is the world’s best-selling rum brand with a 40% market share and sales of 6 million cases globally. It’s a full-bodied dark rum loved for a smooth taste and a lingering vanilla flavor with undertones of roasted nuts. The dryness and odd bitterness could be a spoilsport for many though.

The rum is prepared through a multistep distillation process involving 5 copper column stills. It is left in oak casks for a minimum of 3 years for maturation. That speaks for the dark complexion, full body, and character. Versatility is another redeeming feature of McDowell’s, lending itself well to cocktails and cuisines. Also, feel free to sip it neat. The affordable pricing is just a bonus.

The Brand Evolution

Owned by United Spirits Ltd, McDowell’s No. 1 Celebration was introduced in 1991 when Old Monk and Bacardi ruled the roost in the Indian rum market. With rum lovers liking its fine taste and low price, Celebration emerged as the third most-selling rum by 2009. In 2013 and 2015, it went past Old Monk and Bacardi, respectively in terms of sales. And, the leadership status continues today, aided by aggressive marketing that celebrates the spirit of friendship.

The celebration also garnered some prestigious awards, including:

  • Silver from the Beverage Tasting Institute, Chicago (2008)
  • Bronze at the Monde Selection 2006
  • 2 Stars at the ITQI Awards 2006
  • Silver at the IWSC 2005

Product Range

On the downside, the brand limits your choices to a single product. On the other hand, the parent company spoils you for choices with various top labels in various categories.


White Mischief Red Riband Vodka Blue Riband Gin
McDowell’s Brandy Black Dog Whiskey Single Malt Whiskey

8. Contessa

Contessa rum

  • Since: 1995
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Parent Company: Radico Khaitan Ltd
  • ABV: 42.8 percent
  • Price Range: About INR 500 (750 ml)

Call it the “queen of rums” or the “defense rum” – both refer to Contessa. A staple for Indian armed forces, the dark rum delivers a smooth and delicate taste and an elaborate flavor profile. Distilled in a copper distillation plant, expertly blended, and aged in wood, it retains the invigorating spirit and subtle notes of vanilla. On the downside, a chunk of Contessa’s production goes to the Indian armed forces. So, it is in limited supply for the general public.

The Brand Evolution

Contessa Rum burst onto the scene in 1995 due to Radico Khaitan Limited’s expansion and modernization plan. As the parent company emerged as the second biggest Indian liquor manufacturer, Contessa Rum also entered the millionaire club. Presently, it is the biggest rum brand in India in the defense segment with total sales exceeding 5 million cases and a market share of 20%. Recognitions have been pouring in for Contessa from Monde Selection, International Spirits Challenge, and International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Product Range

With time, Contessa diversified its rum selection to include dark and white rums. The range of flavors also increased to support the dynamic market demands. Besides Contessa, the parent company owns multiple rum brands, including Black Cat Rum, Afri Bull Cafe Rum, Afri Bull Power Rum, and 8 PM Bermuda.

Contessa Labels

Contessa Dark Rum Contessa White Rum Contessa Cola Rum
Contessa Coffee Rum Contessa Double Chocolate Rum

9. Mazakai


  • Since: 2020
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Parent Company: Stilldistilling Spirits
  • Price Range:
    • White Rum: INR 1000
    • Gold Rum: INR 1300

A 100% Indian rum brand, Mazakai is steadily making inroads into hearts and cocktail menus across India. The craft rum guarantees a good time with a refreshing mouthfeel and a distinct character. It’s worth your time and money if you crave something artisanal for an elevated drinking experience. Mazakai could be a strange name for a rum brand unless you are a Konkani speaker. It denotes “I Want.”

The Brand Evolution

Mazakai is a vision of a banker-turned-blender, Kasturi Banerjee. She teamed up with a business professional and a bartender extraordinaire to create Stilldistilling Spirits, which owns and operates Mazakai. The focus was on creating a fully Indianized craft rum for Indian rum connoisseurs. As such, everything is Indian, from ingredients to production ethics. Since its inception, the brand has been growing in capacity and capability.

Product Range

Since these are early days for Mazakai, its product selection is limited to two varieties – Tribute Edition (gold rum) and Bartender’s Edition (white rum). The former is a finely crafted and matured rum ideal for sipping solo and cocktails. Full-bodied, it exudes a creamy consistency and vanilla flavor with undertones of praline, dry dates, figs, caramel, cinnamon, and honey. On the other hand, the white rum is medium-bodied, precise, and intricate, with a floral aroma and sweet and spicy taste. It pairs well with ginger ale, pomegranate, and other juices.


Tribute Edition (Gold Rum) Bartender’s Edition (White Rum)

10. Hercules


  • Since: 1970s
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Parent Company: Khoday Group
  • ABV: 42.8 percent
  • Price Range: About INR 400 (750 ml)

Another crowd-pleaser, Hercules, has a rich history and refined taste. As one of the best rum brands in India, rum fans prefer it for its rich taste and delightful aromas. Its flagship, Hercules XXX bears an intense coffee color and hints of maple and molasses. Although versatility is lacking, it’s a tremendous pocket-friendly option for the masses.

The Brand Evolution

Hercules is a subsidiary of the Khoday Group, which has been around since 1906. Launched several decades back, the brand has struck a chord with rum lovers, winning the Monde Selection gold medal thrice in 1978, 1983, & 1989. Like Contessa & Old Monk, Hercules also has a strong following in the armed forces, where it has been voted among the top rums multiple times.

Product Range

The Hercules rum collection is small yet impressive, with dark and white rums available. However, the parent company owns some top-rated whiskey, beer, and brandy brands to complement Hercules. Peter Scot and Red Knight are the signature whiskey brands.


Hercules XXX Rum Hercules XXX White Rum Khodays XXX Rum

Best rum brands in the world

1. Dictador

DictadorSituated in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, Dictador has a stellar reputation. What distinguishes this premium booze from the competition? Its oceanfront position in the northern area of South America provides a perfect environment for cultivating high-quality sugarcane. Unlike most other rums, Dictador is distilled in copper and continuous column stills and matured in quality oak barrels using pure sugar cane honey instead of molasses.

The Cartagena distillery has been producing exceptional rums for almost a century under the leadership of Hernan Parra, a master mixer of the third generation. The Dictador 20-Year-Old is certainly worth a try: the vanilla and caramel flavors are silky and balanced with chocolate and toasted honey. And if you’re searching for something extraordinary, consider purchasing a bottle from the Best Of collection—a selection of rare and uncommon rums handpicked by maestro Parra and adorned with a handmade label.

  • Price: $25-$123
  • Alcohol content: 40-47%

2. Flor de Caña

Flor de CañaThe next distillery on the list of the world’s top rum brands prioritizes sustainability, which is a big plus for eco-conscious consumers. Flor de Cana, located at the foot of Nicaragua’s San Cristobal Volcano, distills a unique variety of rums using only renewable energy. Need we say, it’s both carbon neutral and fair trade certified?

In 1890, Italian-born adventurer Alfredo Francisco founded the distillery that bears the name of the premium liquor brand. Flor de Caa is still a family-run enterprise with an ever-evolving selection of rums, even after five generations. Only 400 bottles of the 30-Year-Old rum, matured in a single barrel since 1988, are available for purchase. Each one has a handcrafted cap made from a chunk of volcanic rock and a reproduction of a Nicaraguan volcano-themed postage stamp from 1902.

  • Price: $21-$177
  • Alcohol content: 40%

3. Diplomatico

DiplomaticoDiplomatico hails from Venezuela, nestled just at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Here, master blender Tito Cordero matures a fine collection of outstanding rums in barrels that previously hosted bourbon and malt whiskey. The blend is re-aged in Pedro Ximenez or Oloroso Sherry casks after mixing the Single Vintage and Ambassador spirits. That speaks for the intricate layers of taste and rich fruitiness the rum exudes.

Upon distillation in a copper kettle and up to 12 years of aging, the molasses provides a smooth dark golden rum with scents of orange peel, licorice, and caramel. This rum is perfect for sipping neat or for use in a traditional Old Fashioned cocktail.

  • Price: $27-$39 for 750 ml
  • Alcohol content: 40-47%

4. Ten To One Rum

Ten To One RumWith roots in Trinidad, Marc Farrell was keen to alter people’s perceptions of rum. The target? To upgrade the image of the spirit beyond sweet spring break drinks and establish a brand rooted in true Caribbean culture and tradition. The array of premium rums that resulted is undoubtedly making waves.

Ten To One Rum’s black rum is sumptuous, ideal for drinking neat or utilizing as the basis for a negroni. The brand blends eight-year-old Barbados and Dominican column still rums and high-ester Jamaican pot still rum and Trinidadian rum. An elaborate aging process follows that in ex-bourbon barrels made from American white oak. The rich amber liquid is bursting with taste, with hints of baking spices, banana peel, and nut bread.

  • Price: $33-$49
  • Alcohol content: 40-45%

5. The Real McCoy

The Real McCoyThe second brand on the list gets its name from Bill McCoy, a famed American sea captain who, during the time of prohibition in New York, sold rum from the Caribbean on his boat three miles off the coast of the city. Because McCoy never used chemicals to dilute his rum, it became known as “the genuine McCoy,” and he became known as one of the few gentlemen trafficked in illegal substances.

Therefore, it is only appropriate for this premium company to prepare its rum using just blackstrap molasses and spring water from Barbados, with no additional sweeteners, flavors, or chemicals. The most beautiful bottle in the collection has to be the 12-Year-Old aged super-premium rum. It has matured for a whole 12 years. This is one that should be enjoyed and sipped since it has a scent of buttery oak and a flavor on the tongue that is rich and chocolaty.

  • Price: $56-$120.22.
  • Alcohol content: 40% onwards

6. Equiano

EquianoThis recently introduced premium rum brand, which takes its name from Olaudah Equiano, a former slave and freedom fighter, is committed to bringing about positive change. To combat modern slavery, the company will donate 5% of its profits and £2 (approximately $2.70) of the purchase price of each bottle to global freedom and equality projects.

Equiano, the world’s first rum to combine African and Caribbean spirits, has caused quite a commotion since its release. The quality liquid from Gray’s distillery in Mauritius (aged in French Limousin oak) and the quality liquid from Foursquare distillery in Barbados (aged in American white oak) were brought together to start creating a must-try confined rum that seamlessly helps balance fruity sweetness with warm spice.

  • Price: $49 for 750 ml
  • Alcohol content: 43%

7. Mount Gay

Mount GayA comprehensive list of the world’s top rum brands would not be complete without Mount Gay. Barbados’ distillery has produced a wide variety of column and pot still rums for more than three centuries.

The 1703 Master Select is a mix only available once a year. It comprises the distillery’s best and rarest rums, each of which was handpicked by the distillery’s master blender. At least ten years are spent aging the little batch of rum produced in American oak barrels.

The water used in the manufacturing process comes from the nearby coral caves. Honeycomb, banana fritters, orange peel, and sandalwood are some of the notes you may anticipate in the most recent release, which, if you are fortunate enough to get your hands on a bottle of it, will be wonderfully balanced.

  • Price: $24-$60
  • Alcohol content: 40%-57%


So, that was our take on the best rum brands in India. The idea is to help run lovers get closer to their favorite drink while promoting responsible drinking. To compile the list, we factored in everything that matters, from popularity and quality focus to ABV, prices, and product range. As such, each brand making it to our list delivers the right taste, finesse, and depth at various price points. Information related to rums – history, process, etymology, benefits, and more – is just a bonus.

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Frequently Asked Questions: The Best Rum Brands in India

1.  What percentage of alcohol is in rum?

Unlike Scotch whiskey, rum doesn’t have particular concentration regulations. The alcohol percentage in rum is measured by volume and ranges from 37.5% to 80% or above. However, most of them fall in the lower range. The rules and regulations regarding the percentage of alcohol vary from country to country. Rums must have a minimum ABV of 40% in the United States, Chile, and Venezuela and 50% in Colombia. Always check the label or contact the maker for the particular ABV of any rum.

2. How should you store rum?

Rum should not be stored in a bottle with a pourer attached. Storing it in a pourer attached allows the liquid to evaporate. The fact is alcohol evaporates even faster than water. So, the amount will decrease very quickly.

Rum should be stored in a firmly sealed container in a cold, dry area away from radiators and direct sunlight, whether opened or unopened.

If the bottle is less than half full and you don’t intend to drink it within the next few weeks, pour the rum into a smaller bottle. Because rum reacts with oxygen, the more room there is in the bottle for air, the faster the rum will acquire a vinegary flavor and deteriorate in quality and taste.

3. Can you keep rum in the freezer?

The average residential freezer is set to -18 C. (zero Fahrenheit). Pure rum should not freeze until the temperature drops to negative 27 degrees Celsius (-17 degrees Fahrenheit). Thus it is safe in your freezer. Because rum liqueurs have a lower ABV, they freeze more quickly.

4. Is it true that rum ages in the bottle?

Rum is aged entirely in barrels rather than bottles. So the ten-year-old rum you bought five years ago hasn’t turned into a bottle of fifteen-year-old rum. However, the flavor and quality of rum in the bottle might vary over time due to evaporation and oxidation.

5. How many calories are in a shot/ounce of rum?

As per research, a 25ml shot of 40% ABV rum contains 61 calories. An ounce of rum has around 65 calories or about 3% of your daily calorie requirement. The actual calorie count of each rum might vary; always check the label or contact the maker for detailed information on each rum.

6. Is rum gluten-free?

According to the Coeliac Disease Foundation, distilled alcohol does not contain gluten peptides. The reason behind it is the process of the preparation of rum. As they are produced from sugar cane, they should be free from gluten content. However, most brands add flavors to rum with gluten-content components or have come in touch with gluten. Gluten may be present in rum cocktails and pre-mixed rum beverages. Always check the label or contact the maker for detailed information on any rum.

Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar
Passionate about content quality and attention to detail, Rohit has penned over 15,000 copies for some of the leading online and offline publications in his eight-year career. Currently heading the content team at Dunia Ka Gyan, he believes in team spirit, ingenuity, and reader satisfaction.

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