Introducing new people to rum

I believe in not the only one here trying to popularize rum among friends :slight_smile: . I’ve discovered that the rums I’ve learned to enjoy are difficult for the new rum drinker.

I remember sharing a Tiger Shark with my friend and his other friend came, insisting to let her try. I remember how terrified she was, swearing she will never try rum again. This is a kind of situation I’d like to avoid :slight_smile:

I developed a system of teaching people how to approach rum, not only with mouth but also eyes and nose. For inexperienced, I always start with Plantation XO, then my first question is what they think about sweetness. Then we continue either with Mount Gay XO or Diplomatico (If one dares to say that Plantation XO was TOO DRY :exploding_head:). I try to always have something accessible at hand.

What are your methods of initiation the new drinkers? Are you successful in general? I think I brought 4 friends to the Caroni-enjoyment-level but many others left the sacred path of rum too early :sob:


Short answer:

  1. Explain that Don Papa, Demon’s share, captain Morgan’s spiced gold (and all that other cough syrup crap)… is NOT rum :sweat_smile:

  2. Dosed rums: plantation XO, Diplomatico, maybe other cheaper core range Plantation, stuff like that…

  3. Make transition to undosed rums. For those I think that Doorly’s XO is a good starter. From there upwards to 12 and 14.

  4. Try something accessible from Guyana

  5. Introduce Jamaica. That’s where the fun begins :smirk:

PS: at todays prices you have to earn the right to taste Caroni :joy:


Since I can only share Rums with my friends, that I have open at home, I cant show them any sweetend “regular Beginner” rums.

So its always a bit difficult for me to show them something, but I found that most of my friends are open to the topic in general and my fascination for the topic is strong enough to make them interested aswell. So I havent had any problem in letting my friends try out easy-sipping-agricoles, some Foursquares or some of the lighter spanish styles (still unsweetened and around 50-55%).

One friend I have already gotten into trying a Hampden <>H with me, but that was too much he said, since he only had alcohol and esters in his mouth and couldnt enjoy it anymore.

Anyways back too topic: Dont be afraid to give them proper Rum. Maybe just not the most obscure profile (Hampden and clairin come to my mind). Just go with something you would also easily be able to drink on a summer afternoon and you should be fine.

Oh and dont try to “teach” them. Everybody has its own taste and sometimes you just have to accept that the others dont like whats in their glass. Just respect their opinion and move on, if it doesnt go to well.

PS: My go-to Rum would still be Origenes 8/18 for showing a complete newbie a Rum. Or a Saint James XO if you are more familiar with agricoles. Oh and the already mentioned Doorlys Rums should also do a good job.


Thanks for the replies!

Maybe you are right that “teaching” is not the right world, but I surely warn that rum can be strong and burning if treated with disrespect and explain my approach (trying not to force others to follow).

Doorly’s and Mc’Coy are the third step for me, once I find out someone doesn’t have sweet tooth. I usually introduce Guyana with Pusser’s. Their Gunpowder is also a good first step to stronger rums.

I think you are right again, I think it’s not a good idea to introduce people to rum with almost-no-rums. I tried on this weekend with a new friend and begun with Appleton 12 Rare Blend, which he liked very much.


I’m also always happy to offer a good dram to friends and visitors. Here my (unstructured) thoughts.
At first it is crucial that the person likes spirits in general. Most of them do but some simply cannot cope 40% or more of alcohol.
The easiest ones are whisky drinkers. In all cases I recommend them Appleton Rare 12ys (available for less than 30€ in Austria) and El Dorado 15ys (telling them to look for the production year) and most of them - at least - like those.
At home I tend to offer something accessible and not to strong. Even experienced spirit drinkers could have a problem sipping something 55% or more.
And then I had guests liking Bristol Caroni 61,5%… :100: :boom:


Agreed. That’s what Doorly’s 14 also has to offer in Barbados. In Jamaica I would say that Worthy Park 109 can offer that as well.


Oh yes and then you do have my girlfriend: She seems to like whats most expensive. So any Caronis or old Demeraras will just do fine… Any regular Plantation or other “below-100€-bottle” just taste too much like cheap alcohol to her.


made my day :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Oh my, never bring new people into this hobby, they will just want their share of rarities and drive prices up!
… Just kidding.

I would recommend to start with Spanish Style, but sweetened or not depends a bit on the person. Most Supermarkets here have Havana Club, Diplomatico (Botucal), Methusalem, Bacardi and some cheap stuff. Rarely something better. HC is what most know, so I would continue from there, propably something undosed or only slightly dosed (I.e. Honest), but not overwhelming.
I would also look for the quality. Plantation XO was an entry for me, but disappointing (too rough). I find the 8yo Jamaican Hampden 46% a very good entry option. For a Jamaican it’s timid, but still flavourful.

Foursquare ECS was it for me (the bottle was 50 bucks back then), and I consider this distillery a good entry option (Doorlys) as it is lighter and more gentle in Style.

However, keep always the audience in mind, I had a colleague being a Scottish distillate fan, and he found the foursqare ECS utterly bland and flavorless.


When I introduce Rum to people I offer them six different kinds to have an impression of different production, country and styles.
So it‘s a mixture between sugar and non sugar, dry and sweet….and so on. This is my basic list:

  • Ron Millonario 15 or Dos Madeira 5x5
  • Wagemut PX Cask
  • Doorlys 12
  • English Harbour 5 or El Dorado 12
  • Low ester Jamaican rum (e.g. worthy park or navy island)
  • Agricole (e.g. JM Rhum or HSE Black Sheriff)

I‘ve got a newbie tasting coming up around new year’s.
I was thinking about offering them

  1. Zacapa 23, as the rum that most people think about when I tell them that I like to drink rum neat
  2. Barbados (probably Mount Gay XO, maybe Doorly’s), as what I personally see as „classic rum“
  3. unaged agricole, to show what rum can taste like aswell
  4. Jamaica Rum, I‘ll probably choose the Hampden 8
  5. Savanna HERR to blow their mind

What’s your opinion on such a lineup and what might be missing?

I was thinking about adding a Guyanese rum. I like the Rum Nation Demerara No. 14, it has a great value for money, but I don’t have a bottle left. And from what I‘ve poured those friends before I guess that Guyana isn’t the best start into the rum world for them


Nice line-up with a lot of variety. Hampden could be tricky, people either love it or hate it in my experience. Not the most accessible Jamaican, but it gives a better view at the “Jamaican profile” compared to Appleton for example - more accessible, but a bit dry (and more boring).

Missing is a big word… but despite what you said I might consider a Guyana as a sixt, perhaps El Dorado 12 or 15 (if that’s an option)? Those are still quite easy going.

You could even go for more, but I think 5-6 is a good limit for such a tasting and you cover a few basics with it.

You could even have a “surprise bottle” of your own liking if it goes well and there would be some interest in it (perhaps one cask strength beast at the end? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

PS: Savanna HERR FTW!


I‘d like to give you an update on how the tasting went. We had one beer drinker, one tequila fan, two people who were into wine and cocktails, one was into getting drunk no matter the taste and one doesn’t usually drink alcohol. So it was a diverse group but apart from me no one was a nerd in any of these categories.

The Zacapa didn’t convince anyone, but two liked it after I offered to mix it with coke.
Mount Gay XO got a far better feedback but no one would’ve bought a bottle for themselves.
My girlfriend, seldom drinking alcohol, liked the Clement Blanc 40%, the Rest didn’t. But a small lime zest helped.
Then we had the Hampden 8 which the beer guy liked and everyone else hated.
And last but not least savanna HERR: everyone found it interesting and was surprised how the 62.5% alcohol in the HERR wasn’t that much more pungent than the 40% in the Zacapa. The beer guy and my girlfriend liked it, for everyone else it was too ester heavy. Good for me, because I have some left in the sample bottle :wink:


Good news for you, your Girlfriend seems to have a good taste.
Judging by what she liked I would avoid Jamaica and go down the Agricole Route.
(Luckily, thats also the cheaper route)


Ich weiß, dass ich mich jetzt unbeliebt mache, aber der Einstieg über einen Botucal RE öffnet oft die Pforten, insbesondere bei Frauen. Das ist nicht umsonst einer der gängigsten Rums und ein Dauerbrenner seit Jahren. Ich habe dann versucht über die Single Vintage Editionen dieses weiter zu führen. Misserfolg! Warum? Weil Zuwachs an Qualität nicht wirklich im Verhältnis zum Preis stand, Und ich rede vom BSV 2000 ,der damals noch für unter 100€ zu bekommen war.
Geschmack ist so was von individuell, das lässt sich nicht voraussagen. Ich bin in diesem Forum recht neu, aber mein Eindruck ist mittlerweile, dass hier bestimme Anbieter und Börsen promotet werden.
Einstieg nicht zu hochprozentig. Eher in die komplexe, süße Richtung. Gern auch spiced, aber nicht so hammerhart wie bei Spirit of Rum mit Slow Joe’s aus 23.


Well, I’ve also started with Botucal :slight_smile: and I think if people are not used to spirits, sugar-heavy rums are a good starting point. These are close to liquors, which many people find approachable.


First Single Malt: Laphroaig 10
First “Premium” Rum: Botucal

In both cases I still wonder I sticked with it. Laphroaig is like alcohol poured in an ashtray with some old plasters in it and drinking that mixture then.
And Botucal is just a sugar juice. Feels like a liquor and not like rum. My first bottle of rum in that segment and still the first and only I gave away. I would have been happy, if I would have known about that sugar crap in the rum business. Thank god I read about Mount gay and Chairman’s somewhere.

So, there is no right or wrong. Really depends on the individual and the prior experiences with spirits and possible preferences imo.


Had a colleague that is a scotch whisky drinker (nothing fancy or expensive there, but sugaring and such is usually not the case with whisky, so the quality is OK). He found the taste of “honest” rum far off from his expectations (rum has to be a bit sweet and rummy - that flavor known from baking). Having different rums that did it for me in the beginning (Foursquare and Hampden) where not received well, as they were “too close to whisky”, he said.

I then remembered that my journey also took some time, had some of the supermarket varieties over the years (Methusalem, Bacardi, Havana Club) being also a bit disappointed, and got the hang of it also with the more sweet option: Zacapa (sugar! Misleading statements!) and afterwards Plantation XO (has also sugar, but that was already a lot drier, and I had to pause there as the XO was too harsh. But interest was there. I read a lot, and then had a Mount Gay, which I consider really dry for my tongue. Afterwards Foursquare ECS Premise and Hampden 8yo where a revelation. Can’t imagine that I would have come this way, had I gotten to mount gay first.

So, what I try to tell: I believe we need to “lead” often via sweeter concoctions to higher quality rums, as we need to manage expectations. And we will lose some in the process.

For that I find the Botucal/Diplotatico/Zacapa work OK. Even they have some less sweet (as example) variants, like the Mantuano. Of course, their premium single exclusive etc. bottlings in my opinion should be avoided, as they don’t have the quality and ride the Premium wave, that is made by independent bottlers and the like.


The setup for tonight to introduce a new person into the wonderful world of Rums.
The Great House or Foursquare might be a bit too much, but he insisted to see some various styles of Rums.
So here we go…


By the way: How was it?