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Top Shelf vs. Bottom Shelf Rum


When it comes to purchasing a mixing rum we typically go bottom shelf, reserving our cash for the finer sipping rums. That philosophy recently got us thinking. Is a more expensive, top shelf rum worth the extra money and could we actually tell the difference in a basic Rum and Coke?

Bacardi Superior, a Cuban style rum dating back to 1862, has long been the benchmark for a proper Rum and Coke. On our local shelves, the price of a 750 ml bottle averages $11.00.  That’s just a few dollars less than what we typically pay for a 1.75  liter of mixing rum. For this test we opened up our wallets to purchase one bottle of Bacardi and one bottle of American Pride Silver —  a U.S.A., made rum at $7.00 / 750 ml.

To create a controlled, blind taste test, Terry filled four glasses with equal amounts of ice, 2 ounces of rum, and each topped with Coke made from pure cane sugar, two drinks with Bacardi and two with American Pride. Each Bacardi glass had a piece of tape on the bottom to distinguish from the American Pride. Terry then gave Clint his two drinks indicating which would be his test one and test two. Clint then mixed up the remaining two glasses behind Terry’s back, then  presented to her. Let the test begin.

He Said
Drink number one has a very strong alcohol taste that overpowers the sweetness of the Coke. This tastes more like a Coke and whiskey instead of rum. Drink two has a mellow, smooth, rum taste which compliments the Coke. This is a true Rum and Coke.

Drink One = American Pride

Drink Two = Bacardi

She Said
My drink one also has a very overpowering alcohol taste. The soda mixer in this could be generic for all I know. There is no sweetness here, only bitter. I don’t even want to finish. Drink two is a more balanced cocktail which is pleasant to sip with no after-taste. Very enjoyable.

Drink One = Bacardi

Drink Two = American Pride

Holy Moly. We didn’t expect those results. We pulled in our friends who were more than happy to do the same blind taste test.

Drink one has an initial bite which lasts straight through to the finish leaving a bitter aftertaste. We wouldn’t think this was a rum and Coke if you hadn’t told us. Drink two is sweet, smooth and enjoyable.  More please.

Drink One = Bacardi

Drink Two = American Pride

If three out of four chose the cheaper American Pride over the Bacardi Silver, does that mean the Bacardi is not worth the extra money? Not so fast. Maybe more testing is needed with cleaner cocktails such as the Mojito. For now, we’ll put our liquor budget into fine sipping rums.


About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 32 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

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One comment

  1. Please try the control test without using Bacardi. Though Bacardi may be the best selling rum in the world, that doesn’t qualify it to be the best tasting. In my opinion Bacardi does not hold strong rum characteristics. Maybe try the test next to Cruzan or even Captain Morgan White. I am sure that the two past mentioned will prove that you can tell the difference between low end and higher end.

    For further tests I would love to see you put equally priced rum brands against each other.

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