Does White Rum Choice Affect the Mojito Taste?

Last month we posed the question – does the white rum you buy matter? We selected five whites from different regions and price points and began our review where every review should begin, tasting the rums neat. This month we’ve made our favorite summer rum cocktail, the Mojito, to see if the white rum matters.

Does White Rum Choice Affect the Mojito Taste?
Does White Rum Choice Affect the Mojito Taste?

Let’s recap the notes of the rums we used neat.

Bacardi Superior (Puerto Rico):
Very herbaceous and earthy, with some vanilla.

Don Q Cristal (Puerto Rico):
Light, smooth, with hints of oak, herbs and lemon grass.

Largo Bay (Barbados):
Light bodied rum with subtle hints of citrus and tropical fruit

J. Wray & Nephew  (Jamaica):
Molasses forward with vanilla cream, coconut and banana.

Cruzan (St. Croix):
Subtle molasses, buttery and a stronger raw coconut flavor.

We definitely liked the J. Wray & Nephew and would sip neat over ice.

The origin stories of the Classic Mojito vary greatly.

They go anywhere from a tonic to cure dysentery and scurvy in the days of Sir Francis Drake to being created by “La Bodeguita del Medio’’ in Havana, Cuba, a restaurant-bar with strong connections to Hemingway. The simple ingredients of rum, mint, sugar and club soda have been debated over the years. What type of mint? Should you use sugar or simple syrup? Muddle or not muddle? And how about the rum? Aged or un-aged? As you recall from Part I even though some of these rums have been aged, they are filtered to bring the rum back to pure white.

We used the following recipe using each one of the above rums:
½ lime cut into pieces
10 mint leaves
2 T Superfine sugar
1 ½ oz rum
4 oz club soda

Muddle ¼ of the lime. Add sugar and the remaining lime. Fill the glass with ice. Add rum and soda. Stir.

The glasses were shuffled so that we tasted each mojito blind. We made our guesses based on our notes from the neat test. Were we right?  Close but no Cuban cigar. (Our blind guesses are in (parentheses) with the actual rum in Bold.)

What White Rum makes the Best Mojitos? Results

1 – Limey and sweet suggesting one of the sweeter whites (J. Wray & Nephew) Cruzan
2 – Overly sweet with no balance of lime and mint (Cruzan) Largo Bay
3 ­– Lime and mint in balance with a little sweetness (Don Q) Bacardi
4 – Herbaceous, balanced, delicious (Bacardi) J. Wray & Nephew
5 ­– Citrus forward with very little sweetness (Largo Bay) Don Q

We were very surprised that the light bodied Largo Bay produced an overly sweet drink while the herbaceous Bacardi became subdued making this cocktail our second favorite. 

We will have to give the win to J. Wray & Nephew for a well-balanced cocktail that allowed all parts to play an equal role.   

Our white rums mattered, how about yours? Give this blind test a try and tell us what you found. Drop us a line at [email protected]