Wicked Dolphin named Best Craft Rum Distillery

This is the third win for Cape Coral rum maker

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
    Cape Coral, Fla.

    Founded in 2012, 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

  • 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 Larry Hoffman / Flickr

  • 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

  • Cannon Beach Distillery
    Cannon Beach, Ore.

    Every spirit from Cannon Beach Distillery in Oregon is fermented, distilled and bottled on-site with no artificial colors or flavors and minimal filtering. Dorymen's Rum, a clear spirit, is distilled from evaporated cane juice sugar for a clean and creamy mouth-feel. Don Shanks Amber Rum is fermented from blackstrap molasses, giving it hints of butterscotch and caramel, and aged in charred American white oak for a smoky, woody complexity.
    Photo courtesy of Cannon Beach Distillery

  • Lyon Distilling Company
    St. Michaels, Md.

    Rum lovers have numerous options to choose from at 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

  • Privateer Rum
    Ipswich, Mass.

    Privateer Rums start with a long and cool fermentation, followed by aging in oak barrels and cask-finished in used whiskey and brandy barrels. Since each barrel has its own flavor profile, so does each batch of Privateer Amber Rum. The distillery also crafts Silver Reserve, Navy Yard and Queen's Share rums.
    Photo courtesy of Privateer Rum

  • Lost Spirits Distillery
    Los Angeles

    At Lost Spirits Distillery in Los Angeles, rum starts with just three ingredients: molasses, yeast and water. The mash is fermented in open top vats and distilled in house-made dragon-headed copper stills. The resulting rums are supremely sip-able with no added sugars, colorings or additives.
    Photo courtesy of Lost Spirits Distillery

  • 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 Roulaison Distilling Co

  • Manulele Distillers
    Kunia Camp, Hawaii

    Native sugarcane was growing on the Hawaiian Islands long before the first plantations existed. At Manulele 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

  • Far North Spirits
    Hallock, Minn.

    Far North Spirits distills three styles of rum, inspired by the rums of Guyana and Trinidad. Each starts with demerara sugar from Florida and turbinado sugar from Louisiana that’s craft distilled into a white rum, golden rum aged in Roknar Rye whiskey barrels and a Nordic-style spiced rum infused by hand with whole spices.
    Photo courtesy of Far North Spirits

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

  1. Wicked Dolphin - Cape Coral, Fla.
  2. Drum Circle Distilling - Sarasota, Fla.
  3. Arizona Craft Beverage - Elgin, Ariz.
  4. Cannon Beach Distillery - Cannon Beach, Ore.
  5. Lyon Distilling Company - St. Michaels, Md.
  6. Privateer Rum - Ipswich, Mass.
  7. Lost Spirits Distillery - Los Angeles
  8. Roulaison Distilling Co - New Orleans
  9. Manulele Distillers - Kunia Camp, Hawaii
  10. Far North Spirits - Hallock, Minn.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Emily Arden Wells (Gastronomista); Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove); Brian Christensen (Artisan Spirit Magazine); Ziggy Eschliman, one of America's most authoritative and entertaining libation experts; Kevin Gray (Bevvy); Eric Grossman (Craft Spirits) and Jack Robertiello, a spirits competition judge, were chosen for their knowledge of the American craft spirits scene.

Congratulations to all these winning distilleries.

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AlertThe Experts

Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Martin Cate

Martin Cate

Brian Christensen

Brian Christensen

Ziggy Eschliman

Ziggy Eschliman

Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Jack Robertiello

Jack Robertiello