The Absolute Best Rums To Use For Mojitos, Ranked
In recent decades, the mojito has gained a rather negative reputation. As Punch explains, this fall from grace has been caused by nightclubbers who have long over-ordered the drink, a time-consuming mixing process that makes it the bane of many bartenders’ shifts, and an even larger cliché-fueled stigma.
Unsurprisingly, the spirit traditionally used to make mojitos, white rum, is also frequently misunderstood. Indeed, there remains no actual legal definition of white rum or any other “type” of rum — a fact that contrasts sharply with other, heavily regulated spirits (via Paste Magazine).
Initial iterations of the mojito — sometimes known as El Draque after Sir Francis Drake — did not include rum at all, but rather a precursor to the spirit, aguardiente de caña, per Difford’s Guide. This drink was enjoyed throughout Cuba — the site of its invention — until the 20th century when the mojito as we know it was popularized during prohibition alongside Cuban-based rum producers, such as Bacardí.
Nowadays, the choice of rum extends well beyond Bacardí, with numerous brands claiming their spirit is perfect for the cocktail. Of course, not all of these statements are true, yet there are several mojito-making rums that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Whilst we can’t guarantee that these spirits will salvage the reputation of this overly deprecated cocktail, we can assure you that they will form the basis of a delightfully refreshing mojito.
Celebrities have long made headlines — and money — by backing or lending their name to products. Most typically this has taken the form of a celebrity chef releasing a self-branded cookline. However, non-gastronomically minded celebrities have also leaped upon the money-making bonanza that are food and drink products, namely through the production of their own spirit lines.
From Conor McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve to Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila, the abundance of celebrity-backed spirits shows no sign of slowing down. This does not thrill everybody in the spirit industry, namely because some celebrity liquor brands contribute to shocking environmental issues (per Elle) whilst frequently appropriating other cultures (per Women’s Wear Daily).
This being said, there are a few celebrity-backed spirits that should be celebrated. Bruno Mars’ SelvaRey White is one of them. This rum provides a hit of flavor that surpasses many of its competitors, a fact thought to be due to the involvement of master distiller and rum-industry legend Don Pancho (via Paste Magazine). As reported by InsideHook, the spirit is a blend of three- and five-year-aged rums, which have a distinctly vanilla-like flavor profile. This strong taste would be most readily associated with darker rums, meaning mojitos made with SelvaRey White provide a startling, yet welcome flavorful surprise.
If any rum-producing company can lay claim to the mojito it’s Bacardí. Founded in Cuba in 1862 (per Bacardí Limited), Bacardí has been synonymous with the cocktail since the early 20th century when the mojito first gained fame in Havana. The Cuban cocktail soon found an international audience during prohibition thanks to the hordes of American tourists that visited Cuba and the illicit cocktail culture that was blooming in the U.S. during this time.
Since these early days, Bacardí has sought to reinforce the association between its rum and the mojito through a slew of advertising campaigns, with the award-winning 2007 campaign being perhaps the most memorable (via The Moodie Davitt Report). However, it is not just diligent advertising that has seen both amateur and professional bartenders reach for Bacardí when making a mojito. In fact, Bacardí Superior — the brand’s white rum — is favored because of its affordability and quality, a sentiment backed by industry professionals, such as Georgia Thompson, a bartender who works in Manchester, Vermont (via HuffPost).
As reported by Liquor.com, Bacardí Superior is the best-known rum in the world, and its unchallenging and enjoyable flavor profile is highly suited to the refreshing, clean nature of a classic mojito. Its notoriety as a cheap, yet dependable, rum makes it an ideal starting point for mojito novices, therefore, its popularity will likely endure for many years to come.
Caña Brava 3 Year Old Rum
The 86 Company
Caña Brava is a Panamanian rum distilled under the watchful eye of Don Pancho at his Las Cabras distillery in the Herrera province in Panama. Here, he makes rum using techniques and a climate almost identical to his native Cuba, where he honed his craft for decades (per Don Pancho Origenes). Perhaps the most important processes that define Caña Brava 3 Year’s flavor are fermentation, which occurs thanks to a unique strain of pineapple yeast (via Flaviar), and aging. The rum spends 18 to 24 months in American oak barrels and is then finished in whiskey barrels for another 12 to 24 months (per Master of Malt).
The unique flavors imparted during these processes and the dry, exceptionally clean mouthfeel (per Difford’s Guide) make Caña Brava 3 Year the perfect rum for mojitos. The spirit adds flavor complexity while also allowing space for the cocktail’s citrus and sugar to sing.
Unfortunately, ever since Brown-Forman purchased The 86 Company in 2019, the production of Caña Brava has been put on hold. Liquor.com highlights that this was a decision motivated by business, with one of The 86 Company’s brands, Ford’s Gin, being more profitable. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Caña Brava 3 Year, grab it now to secure yourself the privilege of sampling Don Pancho’s finest work.
Real McCoy 3
Real McCoy 3 is a rum defined by its purity. This makes it a slightly divisive option amongst rum lovers. Some people — like managing editor of Whiskey Raiders and ASCOT Awards spirit judge Jay West — bemoan a lack of complexity, while others laud its incomparable ability to elevate already flavorful cocktails (via Master of Malt). Ultimately, Real McCoy 3 may not be the best rum to sip straight and ruminate on, yet it is undoubtedly a brilliant base for many flavorful cocktails such as the bloody Mary, daiquiri, and of course, the mojito.
The purity of Real McCoy 3 extends from the palate all the way back to the production process, with BBC Good Food reporting that, unlike many other rums, Real McCoy 3 is completely additive- and perfume-free.
The rum’s flavor profile arises during the aging process, which takes place in American oak barrels with subtle notes of caramel, white pepper, fruit, and coconut all being picked out by tasters (per Master of Malt). Yet it is undoubtedly the sharp, clean, and precise nature of Real McCoy 3 that makes it a delightful spirit from which to build a mojito.