Best Craft Rum Distillery (2019)


Sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean began distilling rum during the 17th century from molasses, an inexpensive byproduct of the sugar refining process. The spirit came to the U.S. in 1664 with the opening of the first rum distillery on Staten Island and continued to grow in popularity through the Revolutionary War. Rum has come a long way since those early days, and distilleries across the nation are experimenting with how to craft the finest variations.

  • Wicked Dolphin

    Wicked Dolphin
    Cape Coral, Fla.

    Wicked Dolphin Distillery uses 100-percent Florida-grown sugarcane to create small-batch rums in a traditional copper pot still. The spirit then gets aged in used American white oak Kentucky bourbon barrels for a minimum of one year (and up to 14 years). Wicked Dolphin also produces a silver rum, coconut rum (made from real coconut water), black rum and vanilla bean rum.
    Photo courtesy of Wicked Dolphin

  • Lyon Distilling Company

    Lyon Distilling Company
    St. Michaels, Md.

    Rum lovers have numerous options to choose from at Maryland's Lyon Distilling Company. This micro distillery on the Chesapeake Bay makes white rum, dark rum, Sailors Reserve Rum, Overproof White Rum, Overproof French-Oak Finished Rum and 151-proof rum.
    Photo courtesy of Lyon Distilling Company

  • Arizona Craft Beverage

    Arizona Craft Beverage
    Elgin, Ariz.

    Each rum from Arizona Craft Beverage starts with pure cane sugar, juiced and combined with a special yeast strain to produce delicate rums. The spirits are then aged in spent whiskey and wine barrels (or new barrels for black rum) to add complexity to the finished product.
    Photo courtesy of Arizona Craft Beverage

  • Cardinal Spirits

    Cardinal Spirits
    Bloomington, Ind.

    Rum lovers have two spirits to choose from at Indiana’s Cardinal Spirits. The light Tiki Rum, perfect for mixing, is fermented and distilled from cane juice and light molasses using hefeweizen and wild sugarcane yeasts. Lake House Spiced Rum is infused with whole botanical ingredients, such as vanilla, cardamom and orange peel.
    Photo courtesy of Cardinal Spirits

  • KoHana Distillers

    KoHana Distillers
    Kunia Camp, Hawaii

    Native sugarcane was growing on the Hawaiian Islands long before the first plantations existed. At KoHana Distillers, sugarcane is harvested by hand, pressed into juice and distilled into a pure cane rum in small batches. The white agricole rum rests in oak to produce the barrel aged agricole rum. There’s also a cask-strength rum and a cocoa and honey rum.
    Photo courtesy of Manulele Distillers

  • Koloa Rum Company

    Koloa Rum Company
    Lihue, Hawaii

    All the rums from Koloa Rum Company are made with Hawaiian sugarcane and Mount Waialeale rainwater and twice distilled in a vintage copper pot still. Options include white and aged rums, as well as rums flavored with coconut, coffee and spices.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Ivan Pantic

  • Roulaison Distilling Co.

    Roulaison Distilling Co.
    New Orleans

    Roulaison Distilling Co. prides itself on pushing the creative limits of rum. The New Orleans distillery takes a historic approach to distilling its flagship rum – a robust spirit with notes of pineapple and banana with a spicy, piney finish. The distillery also makes an overproof rum, aged rum and a floral and zesty herbal rum liqueur. 
    Photo courtesy of Eduardo Benitez / Roulaison Distilling Co

  • Bear Creek Distillery

    Bear Creek Distillery

    Sprits from Denver’s Bear Creek Distillery are crafted from grain to bottle one batch at a time, including the silver, spiced and cask strength rums. All three are distilled from evaporated cane juice in a copper hybrid pot still. The limited release cask strength rum is finished in bourbon barrels and bottled at 120 proof.
    Photo courtesy of Bear Creek Distillery

  • Newport Craft Brewing + Distilling Co.

    Newport Craft Brewing + Distilling Co.
    Newport, R.I.

    Thomas Tew Rums, made by Newport Craft Brewing + Distilling Co., are named after a famous Rhode Island pirate who once lived in Newport. The dark amber Single Barrel Rum is distilled in a traditional copper pot still and aged in oak barrels to impart richness and complexity. Distillers hand-select spirits one barrel at a time, and each bottle is labeled with the barrel it came from.
    Photo courtesy of Newport Craft Brewing + Distilling Co.

  • Drum Circle Distilling

    Drum Circle Distilling
    Sarasota, Fla.

    Drum Circle Distilling in Sarasota is best known for their Siesta Key Rum, made in small batches in a copper pot still using molasses from Florida-grown sugarcane. The lineup includes silver and gold rums, as well as spiced rum, toasted coconut rum and rum finished in beer barrels.
    Photo courtesy of Drum Circle Distilling


The top 10 winners in the category Best Craft Rum Distillery are as follows:

  1. Wicked Dolphin - Cape Coral, Fla.
  2. Lyon Distilling Company - St. Michaels, Md.
  3. Arizona Craft Beverage - Elgin, Ariz.
  4. Cardinal Spirits - Bloomington, Ind.
  5. KoHana Distillers - Kunia Camp, Hawaii
  6. Koloa Rum Company - Lihue, Hawaii
  7. Roulaison Distilling Co. - New Orleans
  8. Bear Creek Distillery - Denver
  9. Newport Craft Brewing + Distilling Co. - Newport, R.I.
  10. Drum Circle Distilling - Sarasota, Fla.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning distilleries!

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Brian Christensen

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