Find a Job You Really Want In
Rum is considered to be the oldest spirit — AKA hard alcohol made via distillation — in the world. There are claims that it is the first liquor to be drunk for pleasure and not medicinal purposes.
While there are some rum-esque drinks throughout time, rum as we know it was first distilled in 1620. Slaves working in sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean discovered that molasses — a byproduct of sugar refining — could be fermented into alcohol.
America got its first rum distillery in 1664, just 44 years after its initial discovery. Today, rum is a multibillion-dollar business in the US alone. It accrued over $8 billion in sales in 2020 in America.
Despite its popularity, rum is not the top-selling spirit. In the US, vodka and whiskey hold the top spots. But rum comes in at number three in terms of sales volume.
10 Largest Rum Brands in the World
Tanduay. Manila, Philippines
Parent Company: Lucio Tan Group (a subsidiary of Tangent Holdings Corporation)
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 20.5 million worldwide
Current CEO: Lucio Tan
Followers on Instagram: 8.5k
This is a Filipino rum brand founded as a distillery in Hagonoy, Bulacan, in 1854. Just two years later, in 1856, the company was purchased by a powerful multinational conglomerate.
Production moved from Hagonoy to Manila in the early 1900s, where it stayed (in part) until the distillery was decommissioned in 2013. It wasn’t until the 1930s, though, that it was officially branded Tanduay Rum.
Despite its age, Tanduay did not become internationally popular until recently. It has been declared the World’s Number One Rum by Drinks International magazine. And, it took over as the top-selling rum brand, in terms of sales volume, in the world in 2017, passing long-reigning champ Bacardi.
Tanduay is currently the official rum of Barclays Center in New York City and the Brooklyn Nets. They were a sponsor of the 2020 Emmy Awards, and they continue to push themselves into the spotlight around the world.
The company was purchased in 1988 by Lucio Tan, who still acts as CEO. Grandson Lucio “Hun Hun” Tan III was appointed the COO and President of Tanduay in 2019.
In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Tanduay partnered with Absolut Distillers, Inc. to begin producing ethyl alcohol to help with the shortage in hospitals.
Bacardi. Hamilton, Bermuda
Parent Company: N/A; Family-Owned
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 17.8 million worldwide
Current CEO: Mahesh Madhavan
Followers on Instagram: 6.2k
Founded in 1862 by Don Facundo Bacardi Masso in Santiago de Cuba, Bacardi Rum is probably the most recognized name in rum. Their success began early. The rum was awarded a gold medal at the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in 1888. Their brand spread internationally in 1910 when they opened operations in Barcelona, Spain.
Operations were soon opened up in New York City to keep up with the growing demand in the US. Thanks to prohibition in the 1920s, though, the NYC facility was shut down. Bacardi began campaigning to have American tourists visit Cuba, where the alcohol still flowed freely.
The Bacardi family, like many others, were forced to leave Cuba in 1960 amid the revolution and Castro’s government takeover. Having expected things to go this way, they were prepared to continue operations in the US, Spain, and a few other countries.
In 1979, they became the world’s best-selling premium spirit brand. That is incredible for a company that has been family-owned for seven generations. In addition to the Bacardi rum brand, Bacardi owns several other well-known spirit brands. Brands under the Bacardi umbrella include Grey Goose vodka, Patron tequila, and Bombay Sapphire gin.
They also sell a rum brand called Havana Club in the US. This is not to be confused with the Havana Club located lower on the list, though they do have rights to the original Arechabala family recipe.
Captain Morgan. London, England
Parent Company: Diageo
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 11.9 million worldwide
Current CEO: Ivan Menezes
Followers on Instagram: 12.3k
Captain Morgan was named after an actual captain. Welshman Sir Henry Morgan set sail for the West Indies, stopping in the Caribbean. Beloved and notorious, Morgan eventually became governor of Jamaica.
In 1944, Seagram, a Canadian-based company owned at the time by Samuel Bronfman, purchased Long Pond distillery from the Jamaican government. Long Pond had a buyer purchasing the raw rum and adding their medicinal herbs and spices.
Bronfman was intrigued. He liked the product so much that he purchased the rights. They began to produce the rum under the Captain Morgan name.
Captain Morgan Black, the original rum, is still sold today. There are also many other varieties sold under the Captain Morgan name.
McDowell’s No. 1. Bengaluru, India
Parent Company: United Spirits Limited (a subsidiary of Diageo)
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 10.8 million worldwide
Current CEO: Anand Kripalu
Followers on Instagram: 22.1k
McDowell’s No. 1 is India’s number one best-selling whiskey brand. You might be thinking that McDowell’s doesn’t sound the least bit Indian. You’re right. The brand was founded in 1826 by Scottish distiller Angus McDowell. It was originally set up as McDowell and Company, a branch of McDowell of Scotland.
It began with brandy. It wasn’t until much later that they began to launch other spirits. In 1968, they launched their whisky products, and in the early 1990s, they launched their rum product. McDowell’s No. 1 Celebration was their dark rum, and McDowell’s No. 1 Caribbean was their white rum.
They have been growing in popularity with their rum over the last three decades. McDowell’s even briefly overtook Bacardi as a top-selling rum brand in 2014. They didn’t hold on to that coveted top spot for long, though. Still, the brand finds itself comfortably within the top 5 regularly.
Havana Club. Havana, Cuba
Parent Company: Pernod Ricard
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 4.6 million worldwide
Current CEO: Christian Barre
Followers on Instagram: 11.3k
The Archebala family, long-time rivals of the Bacardi family, founded a distillery in Cuba in 1878. It wasn’t until 1934 that the Havana Club brand was created. They sold their rum in Cuba and the United States.
Like Bacardi, they were forced out of Cuba during the Castro government takeover in 1960. Unlike the Bacardi family, they were not able to continue production on their own elsewhere. The Cuban government took ownership (by force) and began to sell Havana Club rum in the early 1970s.
In 1993, Pernod Ricard, a French-owned company, agreed with the Cuban government to run a 50-50 joint venture selling Havana Club internationally. Everywhere except the US, that is.
This Havana Club should not be confused with the Havana Club that is sold in the United States. They are both the same and not. Thanks to the embargo against Cuba, the Pernod Ricard/Cuban Havana Club could not sell in America. Bacardi, however, could.
In 1994, after purchasing the original Archebala family recipe, Bacardi began selling their own Havana Club in the United States. This has led to a long, drawn-out battle between the companies over the rights to the name and the rights to sell within America.
Barcelo. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Parent Company: Ron Barcelo S.R.L.
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 2.1 million worldwide
Current CEO: Alberto Nogueira
Followers on Instagram: 5.3k
Barcelo, another Caribbean-based rum brand, was founded in 1930 by Julian Barcelo as Barcelo & Co. Julian continued experimenting with different brands locally and eventually launched the Ron Barcelo brand in 1950. The company has operated under this name, though it is often shortened to simply Barcelo, ever since.
In the 1990s, a group of Spanish businessmen were given the export rights to Ron Barcelo, and the Ron Barcelo S.R.L. was founded. The company remained under Barcelo family ownership at the time.
In 2006, however, Ron Barcelo S.R.L. obtained full ownership rights of the brand. The Barcelo family has remained on the Board of Directors.
Old Port. Bangalore, India
Parent Company: Amrut Distillery (a subsidiary of N.R. Jagdale Group)
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 1.8 million worldwide
Current CEO: N R Jagdale
Followers on Instagram: 1.2k
Our second Indian brand on the list, Old Port, is produced by India-based company Amrut Distilleries. Despite being best known for its single malt whisky, they are in the top ten best-selling rum brands with almost two million cases sold worldwide.
Amrut is a Sanskrit word that the company claims translates to “Elixir of Life.” JN Jagdale founded Amrut Distilleries LTD. in 1948. They produced the first single malt whisky made in India.
The brand rose to fame in the early 2000s when Jim Murray rated their single malt the third-best in the world. It was in 2010 that Jagdale began toying with the idea of producing a rum. The decision to begin distilling and selling a rum product has certainly paid off.
Bozkov. Czech Republic
Parent Company: Stock Spirits Group
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 1.6 million worldwide
Current CEO: Mirek Stachowicz
Followers on Instagram: 6.2k
Bozkov produces what is known as a Czech “Tuzemský” or “Tuzemák,” which translates to “domestic.” Tuzemák is a traditional Czech spirit. Unlike traditional rum, it is not produced with sugarcane. Instead, it is produced with sugar beets or potatoes and distilled with “rum essences.”
Approximately 100 years old, Bozkov is the most well-known Czech brand of Tuzemák. In addition to some other spirits, the brand recently launched Bozkov Republica, which produces traditional rum made from sugarcane.
Bozkov is currently owned by Stock Spirits Group, a British company that focuses on alcoholic beverages. They operate mostly in eastern Europe. The group was formed in 2008 when two Polish companies merged with a Czech company.
Appleton Estate. Siloah, Jamaica
Parent Company: J. Wray & Nephew (a subsidiary of Lascelles deMercado & Co.)
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 1.1 million worldwide
Current CEO: Ian Maxwell
Followers on Instagram: 55.1k
Appleton Estate has been producing rum since 1749, making it the oldest company on our list — by nearly 80 years. Unsurprisingly, Appleton Estate is also the oldest sugar estate and distillery in Jamaica.
They grow all of the sugarcane used in their rums on the estate, which also has its distillery, sugar factory, and clean water source. They utilize a proprietary yeast strain that is derived from their sugarcane in the process.
Joy Spence is the current Master Blender for Appleton Estate. In addition to being one of the oldest rum distilleries still in operation, Joy brings them another claim to fame. She is the very first female Master Blender in the industry.
Negrita. Réunion, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, France
Parent Company: La Martiniquaise
Sales Volume 2019 (by nine-liter case): 1 million worldwide
Current CEO: Jean-Pierre Cayard
Followers on Instagram: 5.4k
The year was 1857. Paul Badinet, a liquor maker from France, was interested in the rum drink taffia that was now being imported from the Caribbean. He was intrigued, inspired. He wanted to learn their techniques and began experimenting. Eventually, he discovered the perfect formula, calling his creation Negrita. Also called Rhum Negrita.
The product was originally advertised on billboards with the slogan ‘el ron de la Negrita’ or “the rum of the little black girl.” First bottled in France in the mid-1800s, the Negrita name was finally trademarked in 1886.
After Bedinet’s son Edouard took over, operations were moved to Bordeaux in 1895. The company became part of La Martiniquaise in 1993. Though it is very popular worldwide, particularly in France and Spain, it is not well-known in the United States. Despite this, they did break the million-case barrier in 2013.
While the name is not intended to be offensive, negrita means “little black girl” and is intended to be a term of endearment, many find the name off-putting. The connection between slavery and rum production runs too deep. This could be why the brand has yet to find a foothold in the US.
Find The Best Job That Fits Your Career
Where do you want to work?