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Coconut Rum Challenge

What’s the Best Coconut Rum?

Twelve Coconut Rums

Just saying “coconut rum” to the average cocktail purist elicits some strange looks and snide remarks. But as snobby as I am about rum, I stand here before you today and admit freely:

I like coconut rum.

I submit that the right drink with a good coconut rum served at the right time can tickle the taste buds of all but the most ardent coconut haters. Picture a Lei Lani Volcano in a tiki mug on the lanai at sunset—nothing wrong with that in my book!

Perhaps these anti-coconut rum types had one sip of Malibu years ago and decided drinking sweetened suntan lotion wasn’t for them. Well, luckily for us there is more to coconut rum than Malibu, and today we’ll find out just how much more there is. We’ll examine twelve commercially available coconut rums, make our own coconut rum, perform a blind taste test, and answer the question once and for all “What’s the best coconut rum?” Finally, we’ll wrap it up by sharing a few recipes that make the most of this much-maligned ingredient. Let’s get to it!

The Rums

As I looked for coconut rums online and in stores, just a few brands were ubiquitous, Malibu and Bacardi chief among them. I found Cruzan to be pretty widely distributed, as well as Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay. After that there are a number of lesser-known brands, including many available only in 1.75 liter bottles (the true hallmark of quality).

As for common threads, almost all of these store-bought coconut rums were made of white rum, sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and bottled at just 21% ABV. At 42 proof, these are less coconut rums and more coconut liqueurs, but the vocabulary is what it is. The 21% formulation is related to the tax structure for spirits in the U.S.—any higher than that, and the taxes rise substantially. The most popular rum source for these products was Barbados, which makes sense given its general style: smooth, balanced and approachable.

Here are the twelve commercially available coconut rums we’ll be sampling (listed alphabetically):

  1. Admiral Nelson’s Coconut Rum
  2. Bacardi Coconut Rum
  3. Bartender’s “I’m Coconuts Over You” Coconut Rum
  4. Calico Jack Coconut Rum
  5. Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
  6. Coruba Coconut Rum
  7. Cruzan Coconut Rum
  8. Don Q Coco
  9. Kingston Coconut Rum
  10. Largo Bay Coconut Rum
  11. Malibu
  12. Malibu Black

There are certainly more coconut rums on the market, but these twelve represent most of what’s readily (and not so readily) available here in California.

DIY Coconut Rum

In addition to the commercially available coconut rums, we’re adding a DIY coconut rum to the mix. Not having made a coconut rum infusion before, I took to the Web and found Marcia Simons’ recipe at Serious Eats. It looked easy as pie and sounded good, so I went with it. Essentially all you need do is:

  1. Grab a mature (brown) coconut
  2. Drain the water (pop a hole through two of the “eyes”)
  3. Crack it open (I use a sharpening steel for this)
  4. Scrape/cut out the coconut “meat”
  5. Add the coconut meat to a Mason jar
  6. Cover with the white rum of your choice
  7. Let it sit for two weeks in a dark place
  8. Re-decant through a cheese cloth into the original bottle

Given that Barbados rum seemed to be the go-to for the big guys, I decided to follow suit. Shellback Silver is a Bajan rum bottled in California that has significant vanilla and fruit notes in its flavor profile, so it seemed like a good choice for the base. Three differences in this homemade formulation are important to note:

  1. No sugar added
  2. No artificial flavors added
  3. 40% ABV (80 proof) is the highest alcohol content of the field

The Tasting

With the rums selected and the homemade rum ready, it was time to taste! My assistant poured the 13 coconut rums into coded tasting snifters and I got to work. Given that many of the flavors were quite strong, I rinsed with water between each sample in an effort to combat palate confusion.

Coconut Rum Tasting Glasses

The Results

With the tasting complete, I married the coded samples to their bottles and tabulated the results. Here they are from worst to first:


No.13:  Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
Producer: Diageo
Rum Origin: Puerto Rico
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $12
Nose: Bursting with artificial tropical fruits. Pineapple, banana, mango—like sticking your nose in a bag of skittles, but not nearly as pleasant.
Taste: So sweet and just hideous. Like I just licked a candy dish left out in the sun. No coconut flavor—just a horrible mix of fake fruits.
Score: 0

No. 12: Kingston Coconut Rum
Kingston Coconut Rum
Importer: RonDiaz Rum Co. (Crosby Lake Spirits Company)
Rum Origin: Barbados
ABV /US Proof: 24%/48°
Price/750 ml: $8
Nose: Brown butter, caramel, vanilla, hint of coconut
Taste: Cloyingly sweet, cotton candy, brown butter, artificial fruit flavors (grape, pineapple, banana). Barely any coconut flavor.
Score: 0.5

No. 11: Bartender’s “I’m Coconuts Over You” Coconut Rum
Bartender's Coconut Rum

Rum Origin: Barbados
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $8
Nose: Vanilla, caramel, artificial coconut, plastic, butter
Taste: Super sweet beginning backed immediately with a nasty saccharin bitterness. Artificial banana, cherry, and cotton candy.
Score: 0.5

No. 10: Calico Jack Coconut Rum
Calico Jack Coconut Rum

Rum Origin: St. Croix, USVI
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $9
Nose:100% cotton candy
Taste:Artificial cherry, followed by a strong saccharin bittersweet flavor/sensation. Essentially no coconut flavor.
Score: 0.5

No. 9: Admiral Nelson’s Coconut Rum
Admiral Nelson's Coconut Rum

Producer: Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc.
Rum Origin:
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $7
Nose: Inoffensive, but with no really pronounced aromas, save for the hint of natural rubber.
Taste: Impossibly sweet. Caramel cream, butter, vanilla, cherry and grape.
Score: 0.5

No. 8: Largo Bay Coconut Rum
Largo Bay Coconut Rum
Importer: Largo Bay Rum Company
Rum Origin: Barbados
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml:
Nose: Another with very little coconut on the nose. Strong brown butter aromas here. Hint of banana.
Taste: Sickly sweet, artificial coconut, brown butter, cream and vanilla, hint of cherry and pineapple.

No. 7: Malibu
Malibu Coconut Rum
Producer: West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd (for Pernod Ricard)
Rum Origin: Barbados (Blended in Canada)
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: 412
Nose: Slight astringency, pencil shavings, crayola crayons,
Taste: Very sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Grape, cherry and banana.
Score: 1

No. 6: Cruzan Coconut Rum
Cruzan Coconut Rum
Producer: Beam Inc.
Rum Origin: St. Croix, USVI
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $14
Nose: Completely different than the rest. Lemon, banana, fumes of paint and airplane glue with a bit of coconut.
Taste:Super sweet, pencil shavings, bitter saccharin aftertaste, cherry, cotton candy, vanilla.

No. 5: Don Q Coco
Don Q Coco Rum
Producer: Destileria Serralles
Rum Origin: Puerto Rico
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $9
Nose: Fake coconut, hint of crayons. Cherry and cotton candy.
Taste: Super sweet, pencil shavings, bitter saccharin aftertaste, cherry, cotton candy, vanilla.
Score: 2

No. 4: Homemade Coconut Rum Infusion
Coconut Rum Infusion
Producer: Inu A Kena
Rum Origin: Barbados
ABV /US Proof: 40%/80°
Price/750 ml: $17
Nose: Mild astringency, slight nuttiness, hint of tropical fruit
Taste: Really soft entry, immediately reminiscent of coconut water. Coconut flavor in the way we typically think is barely there, but the coconut water flavor is very prominent. Like drinking a coconut water spiked with white rum. Not unpleasant, but not a replacement for what we call “coconut rum” either. Would be fun to play with in cocktails, though.
Score: 3

No. 3: Malibu Black
Malibu Black
Producer: West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd (for Pernod Ricard)
Rum Origin: Barbados (Blended in Canada)
ABV /US Proof: 35%/70°
Price/750 ml: $18
Nose: Fair astringency, caramel, vanilla, hint of coconut
Taste: Quite sweet, artificial coconut flavors mixed with real coconut flavors, butter cream and vanilla. Saccharin bitterness is quite pronounced.
Score: 3

No. 2: Coruba Coconut Rum
Coruba Coconut Rum
Producer: Wray & Nephew
Importer: Kobrand Corporation
Rum Origin: Jamaica
ABV /US Proof: 21%/42°
Price/750 ml: $11
Nose: Mild astringency, smells more like a regular white rum than the rest so far. Hint of coconut and vanilla.
Taste: Quite sweet, some coconut, vanilla, caramel and cream. Not too bad.
Score: 4

No.  1: Bacardi Coco
Bacardi Coconut Rum

Producer: Bacardi
Rum Origin: Puerto Rico
ABV /US Proof: 35%/70°
Price/750 ml: $11
Nose: Fair astringency, hint of coconut, vanilla, butter cream
Taste: Coconut, butter cream, vanilla, sweet, but not off-puttingly so. Slightly bitter aftertaste. Much more like a coconut rum than the others.
Score: 5

UPDATE: Since the Coconut Challenge was published, I have received a few coconut rums from smaller distilleries, and I am happy to report there are even better coconut rums out there. One such rum is Koloa Kauai Coconut rum, which scored an 8 out of 10 in our recent review. Read the review here.

The Drinks

Now that we had selected the best coconut rum, it was time to mix up some drinks.

Coconut Rum Drink Recipe No. 1

We’ll begin with the aforementioned Leilani Volcano, which happens to be my wife’s favorite tiki drink. Like most tiki drink recipes I’m familiar with, I learned of this one via Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The drink was originally served in the 1970s at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying it—this isn’t kid stuff when made with the right coconut rum.

Leilani means “heavenly lei” or “royal child” in Hawaiian; the volcano refers to the bowl in which the original drink was served. Nowadays you’re more likely to find it served in a tiki mug or Zombie glass, however. Here’s the recipe:

Leilani Volcano

  • 3 oz guava nectar
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • .75 oz fresh lime juice
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • 2.5 oz coconut rum

Shake well with ice cubes. Pour unstrained into the vessel of your choice. Garnish with a cherry speared to an orange slice. If you find this too tame, you can use 1.5 oz coconut rum and one ounce white rum to increase the octane.

Coconut Rum Drink Recipe No. 2

Up next is another drink from Beachbum Berry—an original drink he created called the Miehana. If you’re good at word play, you may have already noticed Miehana is Anaheim spelled backwards. Looking at Rum Dood’s article on the drink, I learned that Jeff created this drink for a particular mug at a Polynesian style exhibit at the Anaheim Museum in 1996. The Miehana is a great coconut rum drink with a recipe anyone can remember after a few times because of the equal proportions.


  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz gold rum
  • 1 oz coconut rum

Shake well with ice cubes. Pour unstrained into a tall glass, adding more ice to fill as needed. Garnish with an orange wheel, a stick of fresh pineapple, and a purple orchid (if available).

Jeff is a national treasure, and an amazing historian of tropical drinks. He’s also a really nice guy. So if the two previous drinks sounds good to you, please pick up one or all of his books at He’s also got a fantastic iPhone app called Tiki+ which you can download right now from iTunes.

Coconut Rum Drink Recipe No. 3

For the third and final drink, let’s be green and recycle a drink we already examined in-depth: the Goombay Smash. As you can read here the Goombay Smash is a drink invented at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar in Abacos, Bahamas. Today you can find it served all over the Caribbean in various forms. Although Miss Emily’s recipe remains a family secret, we have a darn fine analog for you here.

Goombay Smash

  • 1.5 oz Pusser’s rum (or other full-bodied navy rum)
  • .75 oz coconut rum
  • .25 oz Cointreau
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • .25 oz fresh lime juice
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake all the ingredients with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a tall glass, adding more ice to fill as needed. Garnish with an orange and a lime wheel.

Summing Up

Once again I’m amazed by the effect of blind tasting spirits. While I used to use Bacardi Coconut routinely (at the suggestion of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry) I fully expected to like Cruzan the best, but without benefit of seeing the bottle, I found it to be uniquely terrible. Another interesting note was that when I tasted the Coruba prior to the blind tasting, I found it to be far worse than when I tried it blind. I suppose I was expecting more, given that I enjoy Coruba dark. Ahh, the psychology of taste and perception.

So now you know the difference between good coconut rum and sweetened suntan lotion. And what’s more, you know how to put it to work in a few top notch drinks that will transport you to lower latitudes and generate some positive vibrations.



83 Comments leave one →
  1. Gil Batzri permalink
    April 4, 2013 1:53 pm

    Tremendous! I will grab a bottle of the Bacardi, I had been a proponent of the Cruzan, and honestly was expecting the Coruba to be interesting. I too love the Coruba Dark. and I honestly was not super fond of the Cruzan, even though I had shilled for it in a general way in the past.

    Mahalo for drinking all the swill so I don’t have to!

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      April 4, 2013 1:55 pm

      Mahalo for reading, Gil! I realize 2000 words about coconut rum is 1900 more than most people are interested in, but I thought it needed to be done. Cheers 🙂

      • Scott Thomas permalink
        April 13, 2013 11:22 am

        I’ll second Capn Jimbos reco of Brinley’s, an excellent rum – although if you want to try something that tastes even more like coconut I recommend kalani Coconut liqueur. if you can find it in the plain bottle it is only around $20, and tastes exactly like alcoholic coconut milk.

  2. April 4, 2013 9:10 pm

    Josh, more good stuff. Here in South Florida coconuts are easy to come by, as are authentic coconut water and the like. It is not unusual to see a pickup truck full of fresh picked coconuts being sold by a big guy with a bigger machete. For $2 he’ll cut just the right opening for you to drink coconut water on the spot. When you’re done, he’ll cut it open and also cut off a small piece that serves to spoon out the coconut meat.

    Altogether pretty fantastic.

    We gave up on coconut rums because most of them are just chock full of very artificial flavors that aren’t even close to the real thing. Then we bought a Brinley’s Gold Coconut Rum and it knocked us out. The authenticity was obvious and it tasted like it was made with fresh coconut meat shavings. The reason:

    It is. I received a long persona email from Zack Brinley states that this rum is made with real spices and real coconut, and yes some cane sugar. We’re not big on flavored rums, but Brinley’s Gold Coconut is one of a kind. I love to hear your take on it…

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      April 5, 2013 2:14 pm

      Thanks – -will try to get a bottle out here.

      • Scott Thomas permalink
        April 13, 2013 11:25 am

        Oops – if you could move my reply from above down here, it would make more sense – don’t know how that happened.

  3. April 4, 2013 9:34 pm

    I’m not ashamed of using coconut rum. I usually have a bottle of coconut and banana rums at all times.

  4. April 5, 2013 1:55 pm

    Just to take a sharp left turn on this one: I’m not really a fan of coconut flavoured rums: but I must mention the Plantation Barbados 20th Anniversary, with its interesting coconut background. It’s a rum that has it, without being it, if you get what I mean. Thoughts?

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      April 5, 2013 2:10 pm

      I agree that the extremely lovely Plantation 20th Anniversary has coconut notes, but I don’t think anyone would consider it a replacement for coconut flavored rums, do you?

    • June 13, 2013 5:08 am

      And if the Plantation does have heavy coconut overtones – which means they are added – then how is it this product is still labeled “rum”, and not “flavored rum”?

    • chiwito permalink
      January 30, 2015 7:12 pm

      The Plantation 20th Anniversary, besides being my favorite rum in general, does have the strongest coconut notes of any non flavored rum I’ve ever tasted. Part of the reason I love it so. I look forward to bringing a couple of bottles down to Lost Spirits and Bryan Davis; one just as a gift and one for him to work his chem lab magic and tell me what woods and processes enable Plantation to get that coconuttiness.

      • chiwito permalink
        January 31, 2015 3:28 pm

        At Ledger’s today I picked up an old style bottle of the Plantation 20th, like the one Josh reviewed in 2012. Since I’ve seen in Facebook comments that some think Plantation changed the blend over time, I gotta get some tasters together to compare with the current style of bottle.

  5. Echewta permalink
    March 18, 2014 9:32 am

    Have you tried using dried unsweetened coconut meat instead of fresh? I would guess removing the water from the meat first might increase the coconut flavor during maceration. I haven’t yet tried this.

  6. May 9, 2014 5:00 pm

    Marti Coco Suave, which seems almost extinct, blows all these away. In comparison, almost every rum listed here tastes more like cheap commercial piña colada flavored sucking candy. It came in a ceramic bottle, was 82.8%. less sugar, more alcohol, and it tasted like coconut. and nothing else. Somebody bring it back.

  7. May 9, 2014 5:03 pm

    And the sugar loaded mixed drinks listed above.. bad bad idea. try hi-proof coconut rum (until the resurrection of Marti Coco Suave, maybe Brinley’s) in hot cocoa or cappuccino made with coconut milk. sweetened a bit with coconut sugar. seriously, “these three” 🙂

  8. miranda permalink
    May 23, 2014 6:06 am

    Thank you! This is more perfect than what I was looking for! 🙂

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      May 25, 2014 8:29 pm

      Happy to help! Cheers

  9. January 28, 2015 7:57 pm

    The CapyBar has done a number of comparative coconut rum tastings over the years with various friends. Of brands reasonably available in the US (at least it used to be; gotta check if it still is) Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coconut is the most popular. Ironically, it is not necessarily even the best on its home island; Belmont, also from St. Kitt’s although made by Demara Distillers, is also very popular with our tasters. As far as I know, it is not US-legal. Of foreign brands, the consistent winner is Cocomania from Wray and Nephew. Pretty much the consensus choice. However, I’ve heard awesome things about two that I haven’t tried yet. Bahama Bob Leonard, and most of the rest of South Florida, raves about the new Siesta Key Toasted Coconut. I’ve got a few bottles on order from a couple of sources, but haven’t got them yet. Dave Rum-Advocate Russell says that Marigot Bay Coconut, from St. Lucia distillers (Chairman’s Reserve) is the very best. Not distributed in the United States, but I am trying to get a sample.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      January 29, 2015 9:15 am

      Very interesting notes, Brian! I recently received a sample of Troy’s Toasted Coconut rum (Siesta Key). Happy to share a dram with you–it’s very good and quite unlike anything else out there. It’s on my list of rums to be reviewed.

      • Gil permalink
        January 29, 2015 12:21 pm

        I can vouch for the Siesta Key, their spiced rum is like nothing I have had before, I am on the lookout for the Coconut, I would love to see what they did with it.

      • chiwito permalink
        January 29, 2015 12:54 pm

        Yes, the Siesta Key spiced rum is awesome. It is my wife’s very favorite rum of any kind. Like Gil, I look forward to seeing what they did with the coconut.

      • chiwito permalink
        January 30, 2015 7:07 pm

        Josh, I would love both to have a sip of Siesta Key Toasted Coconut and to meet you and learn more from you. For the next few months, while I recover from a pair of knee replacements, I will be free most afternoons and nearly every evening. I’d love to have you come over to the CapyBar and sample your SK along with a few of the coconut rums we have here. Specifically, I’d love your opinion on two bottles of Kalani that I have. One I got in Mexico more than a decade ago. The label is mostly in English and there is a US distributor listed, but I never found it in the US in those days. The other I picked up last year when Pacific Edge started distributing it in the Bay Area. I love them both, but they are a little different. The older bottle seems thicker and creamier and with a slightly stronger coconut taste. Not a big difference, but makes me wonder if (a) the taste changed over the long years in the bottle, sort of reverse degeneration; or (b) they changed the formula a bit over time; or (c) slightly different versions are sold in the US and Mexico. I’m guessing (b), but would like to start with an expert like yourself defining the difference. Also, if David, who left the comment about Marti Coco Suave is close enough to the Bay Area to join us, I have about a quarter bottle available to finish.

    • Pete permalink
      May 10, 2015 11:49 am

      I’ll chime in to second that about the Marigot Bay Coconut Rum. I Just got back from St Lucia where I bought a bottle of the Marigot bay on a lark while in the airport waiting to leave. My wife likes coconut rum & Sprite and wanted some for the plane ride. All they had was 700ml bottles so that’s what I ended up with. I can say that the stewardesses did not like this…
      I had actually visited the distillery – St Lucia Distillers (Chairman’s Reserve & 1931) – while there, but didn’t bother to taste the coconut rum while there. The company makes a good dozen or so rum creams and liqueurs like that and I was there to try the aged rums anyways.
      To the point – the Marigot Bay Coconut rum is now my wife’s favorite. She loves this stuff. Admittedly, we have a limited selection where we live so Malibu, Parrot Bay, & Cruzan are the only points of comparison. I will say that it tastes richer and fuller with a more velvety mouthfeel to it than the Malibu or Parrot Bay.
      I wish it was available here – now I’m stuck trying to source a few more bottles for my wife lol…

      • chiwito permalink
        May 15, 2015 7:15 pm

        I still am trying to get my hands on some Marigot Bay, but meanwhile I am enjoying several other coconut rums, and I’ve had one more informal comparative tasting with some friends. Of the brands available here, Kalani is a favorite. Top choice of four out of five at my last tasting. Koloa and Don Q are two others which were well regarded compared to any supermarket brands. (ok, Don Q, based on price and corporate volume, might be a supermarket brand, but it is made more like the craft brands of flavored rums). Siesta Key is outstanding in general flavors, but a bit light on the coconut taste. Because I have such a love for things super sweet, I need to mentioned two coconut rums which are too sweet for most folks. Sugar Island, made by the Trinchero family who are more known for their wines, including Sutter Home, is very sweet but outstanding coconut flavor. Blue Chair Bay, the rum line fronted by country musician Kenny Chesney, is sweet also but in a slightly artificial way. Bahama Bob once told us it reminded him of cupcake frosting.

      • chiwito permalink
        March 4, 2018 5:21 pm

        St. Lucia Distillers has recently released a couple of expressions of their new label, Bounty, in the US. They will soon be releasing several flavored expressions. Michael Speakman, their master distiller, tells me that the flavored Bountys will be identical to the Marigot Bay line. If that is true, then I have very high hopes for the coconut expression when it arrives.

  10. chiwito permalink
    January 28, 2015 8:00 pm

    One thing that most of the best coconut rums have in common is that they are full strength rums (40% abv or above) rather than liqueurs. Also they are from companies that are serious about their rums in general, producing mostly top shelf craft distillates rather than mass market product.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      January 31, 2015 11:02 am

      Sounds like fun! We’ll have to make this happen soon.

      • chiwito permalink
        February 4, 2015 11:25 pm

        My two bottles of Siesta Key are here in town and will be at my happy hour tomorrow, so I will definitely be sampling them then. However, that is no reason not to get together and sample a bunch of other coconut rums.

  11. Haggy permalink
    June 15, 2015 3:00 am

    I’m writing from Germany, and I also like Coconut Rum very match. I find your side when I start searching good Coconut Rum Cocktails, I like the Leilani Volcano 🙂
    My favorite is the Belmont Coconut Rum from St. Kitt’s.

    • chiwito permalink
      June 26, 2015 8:42 pm

      Hi Haggy. Always good to meet another fan of both coconut rums and coconut and rum cocktails. The Belmont Coconut Rum is outstanding; one of my top ten favorites and a consistent favorite at our tastings. It is made by Demarara Distillers, the makers of El Dorado, so it is likely that it is made with Guyanese rum although flavored and bottled in St. Kitt’s. As good as it is, it is not necessarily the best coconut rum from its home island. Brinley Gold Shipwreck, made in the same island, has won a number of awards and is another favorite of mine.

  12. Kaye Zoot permalink
    July 2, 2015 3:12 pm

    I’m also a huge coconut rum fan….it’s truly an under appreciated drink. I was really hoping your experiment with infusing Shellback would be a success (Shellback is great go-to rum). I have a coconut rum suggestion that I really think you should try. An often overlooked bottom shelf brand…Castillo Coconut. I think you should try it against your top 3…’s that good!
    Unfortunately, they were bought by Bacardi….but don’t let that keep you from trying Castillo. It’s my favorite (coconut) rum…..

  13. ouellet151 permalink
    August 23, 2015 4:05 am

    why is marti coco sauve extinct, it was the best coconut rum out there.
    will they ever bring back for retail.

  14. James Schmidt permalink
    May 4, 2016 8:02 pm

    What is the best coconut rum with not much sugar? Captain, Sugar island coconut rum? Someone out there knows?

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      May 10, 2016 10:57 am

      I’d guess Koloa and Bacardi Coco have less sugar than the others. Would need to test them with a hydrometer, though, to be sure.

      • Brian R. McDonald permalink
        May 11, 2016 11:27 am

        Sugar Island is one of the sweetest tasting coconut rums extant. I don’t have a hydrometer, nor do I have Josh’s palate or scientific skill, but I suspect that it would be one of the highest sugar labels. It is, however, very good, at least for my sweet tooth. A natural sweetness, not the “cupcake frosting” taste of some brands that combine artificial sweeteners with artificial coconut. Siesta Key has more of a spice taste and less of a coconut taste than most coconut rums; I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a tad less sugar than some. Kalani, Koloa, Don Q, and Brinley Gold Shipwreck are among my favorite coconut rums readily available in the US; Mr. Schmidt might want to check them out.

  15. Misha V permalink
    June 10, 2016 7:35 am

    Check out the Belmont estate gold coconut rum from Demerara Distillers St. Kitts & Nevis.
    One of the best coconut rums i’ve ever tasted.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      June 10, 2016 9:23 am

      Sounds tasty! Not exported to the states, unfortunately.

    • chiwito permalink
      June 10, 2016 10:51 am

      It’s been so long since I’ve had any Belmont that I honestly can’t describe it any more, but I do recall that it was both a favorite of mine and a top scorer at some of the CapyBar’s comparative coconut rum tastings. I believe that I have about half a bottle left if anyone (starting with Josh and Gil, but open to any cocorum lovers able to get to Alameda) wants to do another tasting.

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        June 10, 2016 10:54 am

        Sounds good to me!

  16. September 16, 2016 8:17 am

    My most recent favorite is Rhum Clement’s Mahini Coconut Liquer. Made with Agricole in Martinique, followed closely by the Brinley’s

    • Scott T permalink
      August 12, 2017 12:30 pm

      Mahina is outstanding as is everything from Clement. Their Creole Shrubb is hands down the best orange liqueur I have had.

  17. March 29, 2017 4:16 pm

    I know this thread is pretty old by now but in case you still check it I was wondering if you had any opinions on the new Captain Morgan coconut rum and where it would rank. It’s stronger proof like the Bacardi. Also I saw a little more expensive bottle called Blue Chair coconut rum…how does that rank?


    • Josh Miller permalink*
      March 30, 2017 10:28 am

      Hey there! Don’t believe I’ve tried either of those. Will have to update this article eventually, but I still have some PTSD over the blind tasting 🙂

    • chiwito permalink
      April 4, 2017 8:49 pm

      Blue Chair is super sweet. Works well for my childlike palate, but I think most would find it a bit of a sugar bomb. If you like that style as much as I do, then I would recommend Sugar Island before Blue Chair. both are either good or bad, though, depending on how you like the heavy sweetness [and what cocktails you might create to take advantage of the sweetness].

      • bmcelvan permalink
        April 5, 2017 6:06 am

        Super sweet like parrot bay? Or is it a good quality rum that is just sweeter than something like bacardi coco?

      • chiwito permalink
        April 5, 2017 2:32 pm

        Maybe I need to have another comparative tasting, but I think of Blue Chair and Sugar Island as far, far sweeter than Parrot Bay. Question for Josh: is it possible to hydrometer test flavored booze and liqueurs for added sugar, or do the flavoring additives make it impossible to calibrate?

  18. chiwito permalink
    April 4, 2017 8:52 pm

    As it happens, the CapyBar has added four new coconut rums in the last two days. Three (one Cuban and two Spanish) that I brought home from Cuba last night; and one from Belize that a drinking companion of mine was kind enough to leave for me at Forbidden Island.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      April 5, 2017 2:35 pm

      Chiwito–for a simple hydrometer test to work, it needs to be labeled as alcohol and water only.

      • chiwito permalink
        May 21, 2017 2:53 pm

        That’s what I figured.

  19. Nicole Whitmore permalink
    May 20, 2017 10:47 pm

    Have you tried Rum Haven coconut rum? It’s amazing.

    • chiwito permalink
      May 21, 2017 2:52 pm

      I am a big fan of Rum Haven. Tried it down in the Keys and loved it. Unfortunately, I can’t find it at any liquor stores in the Bay Area, and the people who import it are singularly unhelpful. Next time I’m down in the keys, I’ll see if I can find a few bottles. I’ve only had it in bars and I wonder if that is the only way it is distributed so far.

    • Scott T permalink
      August 12, 2017 12:27 pm

      I grab a big bottle of Rum Haven every time I go on vacation to Myrtle Beach. Very authentic tasting, like alcoholic coconut milk. Amazing bargain at $20 for a 1.75 ltr.

  20. Scott T permalink
    August 12, 2017 12:33 pm

    Josh – I have heard people rave about the 90 proof version of Parrot Bay, have you had an opportunity to try that? I am very skeptical of anything from CM so am reluctant to buy a bottle until I hear something favorable from a reliable source. At only $13 a bottle I might just splurge though.

  21. Kathleen permalink
    August 12, 2017 12:40 pm

    Have you ever tried Palms Coconut Rum and what did you think?

    • chiwito permalink
      August 12, 2017 1:25 pm

      Scott is ahead of me. I’ve never found it at a liquor store; only bars in Florida. Very good coconut rum liqueur.

      Sent from my iPhone


  22. October 14, 2017 4:22 pm

    Hey, just a quick (belated) thank you for the thoughtful review (and a thumbs up on the respectful, informative comments).

    I recently had some coconut rum at a friend’s party and thought…
    – Hmm… kinda tasty!
    – Dang, there must be some better, less-sweet coconut rum than this.
    – Wish I had some insights on which one to buy!

    …and voila, stumbled on your post.

    Thanks again 🙂

    • chiwito permalink
      October 16, 2017 5:03 pm

      A couple of updates, possibly of interest to Adam or others:
      1. According to Michael Speakman of St. Lucia Distillers, his new Bounty line of rums will soon be available in the US. Also, the flavored Bounty expressions will be the same as the existing Marigot Bay line. Thus we should soon be able to test Dave Rum Advocate Russell’s assertion that Marigot Bay is the best coconut rum I’ve never tried.
      2. Kalani is still the clear favorite of various CapyBar regulars and guests who have sampled the coconut rums in our collection.

      • Pedyrn permalink
        December 30, 2017 5:02 pm

        A taste of Aruba coconut Rum is heaven. Produced and bottled by Palmera quality products in Aruba.

      • chiwito permalink
        March 4, 2018 5:26 pm

        I have a couple of small bottles of Taste of Aruba coconut. Haven’t tried it lately; maybe I should for the next Happy Capy Hour.

  23. Diane Wayne permalink
    February 27, 2018 1:50 pm

    Calipso Coconut Rum is very coconut in both nose and taste. Very sweet, but clean and delicious with a clean, coconut finish.

  24. john remich permalink
    March 4, 2018 2:41 pm

    Best coconut rum hands down is Ricardo. Only available i the Bahamas as far as I can tell.

    • MIke permalink
      July 23, 2018 6:11 pm

      Ricardo’s is amazing. My first foray into coconut rum and I have been trying to reproduce the taste until I can get back to the bahamas.

  25. Richard Pero permalink
    November 30, 2018 2:31 pm

    Wicked Dolphin Coconut Rum is one of the best. All their rums are top notch and a must try if price is not a factor. Located in Cape Coral Florida. They have a fun distillery tour as well but can get very crowded in season.

  26. susie Hafemann permalink
    March 29, 2019 1:21 pm

    Oh sweetie, there is a TRUE coconut rum out there…one that is made with real coconut water, and doesn’t tastes like artificial flavor or sun tan lotion. It’s made in a small distillery near Fort Myers beach. Wicked Dolphin coconut rum is absolute HEAVEN. Its the ONLY coconut rum I like, or will drink. I prefer it straight on the Rick’s with a squeeze and twist of fresh lime. PERFECTION. And because of how they distill it, no hangover.

  27. Chris Grimm permalink
    September 26, 2019 12:23 pm

    Great article which I’ve obviously found late.

    I second the old endorsement of Plantation 20, which is also my favorite rum, but carries with it strong notes of coconut and vanilla.

    I was in Philadelphia this week and had drinks at the Ranstead Room. I ordered one of their seasonal drinks which was made with coconut-infused rum, pineapple-infused vermouth blanc, Falernum, Allspice Dram, and angostura bitters. I only ordered it because it was served up.

    It had the tropical hints of a pina colada, but it had much more of the weight of a Manhattan. I have to say that it is the best ‘different’ drink that I have been served in years – a spectacular drink. Really high octane. (The bartender who came up with it happened to be serving me and even said that was her goal with the drink – success on all fronts.)

    I’m going to infuse my own rum, but I am pretty confident that they used a dark rum – so I’m thinking the Plantation Dark. Any thoughts on whether I can get away with that without burying the coconut flavor?

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      September 26, 2019 12:58 pm

      Coconut will not be denied, Chris. The ethanol will do its thing regardless of the wood influence. Have fun!

  28. gary permalink
    June 6, 2020 6:17 pm

    Helpful as I like a good pineapple and Malibu but wanted to upgrade and was not sure where to turn without shopping them all.

    • chiwito permalink
      June 6, 2020 6:29 pm

      Bounty Coconut wasn’t available in the US when this thread was active, but it is now. Kalani, is somewhat available around the states (Alchemy Bottle Shop is the source for anyone who lives near Josh or me). Cocomania is only available in the British Caribbean, but is the best if you can get it. There are a number of other good ones that have come out recently. Where do you live, Gary?

  29. Chris Grimm permalink
    June 7, 2020 7:56 am

    Just following-up on my project infusing my own per my post from a year ago.

    The first batch I made (for my purposes) was simply too light – both the rum and the coconut notes. I had used a mix of Plantations, because I worried about using all dark – which was a mistake. The second batch, very dark-heavy, in a big container other filled with chopped coconut, came out much better.

    Now I feel like I know what I’m doing, and am about a week away from filtering and rebottling a new batch. I used a bottle of Plantation Dark, some Plantation Barbados, and I think I needed to top off the big jar so added a bit of 20. I just grabbed bags of frozen chopped coconut from Patel Brothers. Easy peasy.

    (Another non-rum mistake I made early was using Carpano Bianco, instead of Dolin, which kind of overwhelmed the drink.)

    With the second batch I also finally nailed the drink I was trying to recreate.

    Castle Hill (Ranstead Room, Philadelphia):
    2 oz coconut infused dark rum.
    .75 oz pineapple infused Dolin Vermouth Blanc.
    .25 oz Velvet Falernum (I used the Tayor – all I find around here is Taylor).
    A scant barspoon of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram.
    One dash Angostura bitters.
    One dash Dale Degroff Pimento bitters.

    Another problem early was trying to not overpower the drink with the Allspice dram, so I kept reducing it, but offset with a dash of the Degroff bitters that I absolutely love – they are great rum drink bitters.

    Anyway, if you like a drink with the weight of a Manhattan but tropical notes, this is the drink for you!

  30. CPT(R) R.D. VanOrsdale permalink
    February 20, 2022 3:25 pm

    I like using a decent vodka half a and half with Cruzan in Singing Parrots. Cuts the icky sweet of a coconut rum plus adds a little more octane. MAHALO!!

  31. dana permalink
    May 10, 2022 9:58 am

    Taste buds are personal. Bacardi has very little flavor but plenty of alcohol! I got 3 of these… top is Malibu Classic, 2nd is Hammock Bay, last is Bacardi…. if you want coconut flavor…. Malibu is pretty tough to beat.

  32. Kelly Vermette permalink
    August 28, 2022 12:50 pm

    You really need to try Rum Tropic Distillery Coconut Rum. No sugar added. Blows all of these rums out of the water. Located in Stonington CT


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