There is little doubt, in my mind and opinion, that 2021 was one of the best rum years for the state of Florida in recent memory. There were a ton of new rums brought into the state as well as a great slate of limited run rums… not to mention the insane lineup of Single Barrel releases that the Florida Rum Society brought us all. After much deliberation, here are my Favorite Five of 2021 (with some honorable mentions thrown in there for good measure).
#5 – Worthy Park 109: This new standard offering from my favorite distillery had been anticipated for over year. Whispers of it started at Miami Rum Congress in February of 2020 and it finally touched down Fall of 2021. This, for me, has become a cocktail staple in my bar and has replaced a number of different rums, some not even Jamaican. It is versatile and is now my standard Mai Tai rum. To quote myself, “It is like Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve and a Demerara 151 had a rum baby and it was crowned king of the Rum Gods!”
#4 – Appleton Estate Hearts Collection 1994: The wild ride of Appleton Hearts in the U.S. was a little crazy and I still don’t fully understand what happened. These 3 initial bottlings were released in Europe about a year ago with the anticipated launch in the U.S. in March however March came and went without a whisper. The last I had heard from a Campari rep was that they weren’t planning on even releasing them here. Then, kind of out of the blue, they started to drop in November. Finding the set is like hunting a unicorn but they have shown up in some unexpected places. I was lucky enough to secure a set and I actually love all three of them for how different they all are, but the 1994 is the stand out in my mind.
#3 – Ko Hana Koa Barrel: The Hawaiian Agricole Style rum coming out of Ko Hana is a wonderful breath of fresh air. I love everything they are doing with single cane varietals however this Koa Barrel Aged rum is, far and away, the most unique rum I had the pleasure of experiencing this year. The endemic Koa wood gives this rum its deep red color along with some fantastic tasting notes of buttered toffee and cocoa. They only release 1-2 barrels a year and you can only buy it directly from the distillery so be on the look out and grab one when available.
#2 – Holmes Cay Australia 2012 (FRS Single Barrel): The first and only Australia release from Holmes Cay, this Beenleigh rum packs a punch! Originally planned to be proofed down slightly, a happy accident had this rum bottled at full 67.5% and I, for one, am thankful that it is. It is bright with spicy chocolate, rose and eucalyptus and opens up with just a drop or two of water. This first FRS/HC collaboration really knocked it out of the park and I look forward to more in 2022! (There are a few bottles of this pick available exclusively at Five Star Liquors in Longwood, FL.
#1 – Worthy Park Special Barrel – FRS Gemini Barrels: Anyone that knows me is probably not surprised by this selection as my #1 rum of 2021! This 13 year 100% Worthy Park Medium marque is one of the most special rums I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The wait was well worth it and I will continue to give non-stop accolades to Zan Kong from Worthy Park, Michele Willard from Backbar Project, and Broc Smith for all their hands in making this a reality for the rum lovers of Florida. This rum gives a full mouth feel and a bouquet of flavors that go along with the WPM marque including burnt pineapple, black cherry and olive oil. It has an amazing finish that lingers for hours if you let it. There are an EXTREMELY limited number of these bottles available exclusively in the FRS Online Rum Shop. I have been known to say that I want this to be the last rum I experience before my time on this earth is over!
Here are few honorable mentions that just missed the cut: Hamilton Single Barrel (FRS): Enmore Wooden Coffee Still, Hampden Great House 2020, Grander FRS #2 – Toasted Oak Finish
And there we have it… my favorite rums of 2021. Do you have a list of Top 5? Would love to see it either in the comments or in the FRS Facebook group! Here’s to seeing what comes next in 2022!!! Cheers!