The Ultimate Ranking Of Coconut Rums

Although there is no definitive date for the invention of rum, written records attest to the presence of the spirit in and around the Caribbean since the mid-17th century (via Britannica). The vast majority of rum is made from a by-product of sugar production, known as molasses. As such, the spirit has had a long association with sugar-producing countries throughout the Caribbean and beyond. 

Today, a large portion of rum production still occurs in and around the Caribbean (via BBC). Naturally, the spirit has often been flavored with other ingredients typically found in the area, including coconut (per Bartender). However, coconut rum hit the mainstream with the creation of Malibu, a prominent brand of coconut rum that was introduced to the United States in the late 1970s. Since this time, numerous other brands have sought to cash in on this iconic flavor pairing, albeit with mixed results. Fortunately, there are several brands of coconut rum that are elevating the quality of this flavored liquor to previously unseen heights. What follows are a few of our favorites. 

13. Cruzan Coconut Rum

Distilled on St. Croix (via Cruzan), one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cruzan's coconut rum is a light, clean, and smooth spirit. This is largely attributable to the five-column distillation process employed to create it. This sort of equipment is usually reserved for producing neutral spirits, such as vodka (via Spirited). In this setting, this process results in a rum that is extremely easy drinking. However, it also removes a great portion of the base spirit's flavor, leading to a sweet and slightly one-dimensional flavor developing. This is a very sweet rum that is dominated by the flavor of coconut flavoring (via Distiller).

This simple and direct flavor makes Cruzan a great choice for use in tropical-style cocktails such as piña coladas. Yet, the dominating sweetness may make it difficult for some people to drink straight. Either way, this is a solid, very affordable coconut rum that will surely meet most people's expectations.

12. Malibu Coconut Rum

As the product that kickstarted the coconut rum sub-sector, Malibu simply had to appear on our list (per Drinks Digest). To this day, the brand has managed to retain a large proportion of its popularity, ranking as the 11th most popular spirit in America (via YouGov America). It's also the 4th most popular in the United Kingdom (per YouGov). This is probably due to the simple, sweet, and unchallenging flavor profile the spirit is known for. This familiar presence is further softened by the spirit's low strength. In fact, Malibu has such a low ABV that it cannot technically be called a rum but rather a rum liqueur, as noted by VinePair. highlights that this lower ABV and lack of nuanced flavor is not something that has held Malibu back in international markets. To the contrary, it has made it the de facto coconut rum for mixing just about any sweet drink. In fact, Malibu cocktails are a favorite for everything from pool parties to summer weddings. The brand is cheap, simple, and cheerful. A fact that has won it just as much praise as it has derision.

11. Takamaka Koko

As reported by Fine + Rare, it is not only wine that is influenced by terroir but also a range of spirits with rum being among the most acutely affected. Changes in place, technique, and traditions can all greatly affect the final spirit, a fact illustrated by our next rum, Takamaka Koko. This coconut rum is made in the Seychelles (via Takamaka Rum). Here, terroir is expressed predominantly through the variety of sugar cane that grows on the island. Co-owner Bernard d'Offay explains: "Our sugar cane is red in color and thinner than commercial sugar cane varieties. The concentration of sugar is a lot higher, which means we end up with a better distillate and therefore a better spirit." (via Sated).

Surprisingly, this does not translate into an overly sweet final product. On the contrary, Difford's Guide reports that Takamaka's coconut rum is a pleasant mixture of gentle sweetness and tropical fruit flavors. This may be because Takamaka Koko is made from a blend of both pot-distilled and column-distilled rums, giving blenders the opportunity to round out any harsh or overpowering flavors. Either way, the coconut rum that ends up in the Takamaka bottle is a versatile spirit that, while suitable for mixing, can also be enjoyed neat.

10. Don Q Coco Rum

As the most popular rum brand in Puerto Rico (via Distiller), Don Q has a legacy of excellence that it has been upholding since the 19th century (via Don Q). This legacy has included the launching of Don Q rums to the United States mainland in 2006, a move that has seen Don Q's range of rums receive greater exposure.

One rum that has been well received by both the Puerto Rican and mainland American populations is Don Q's coconut rum. This award-winning spirit has gained acclaim largely due to the fact that it provides an intense taste of coconut without tinges of artificial flavorings running across the palate. This provides Don Q Coco Rum with a distinctive, authentic flavor that goes some way in setting it apart from other competitors. It's complex, with notes of white chocolate, making it perfect for adding to everything from frozen drinks to holiday cocktails.

9. Wicked Dolphin Coconut Rum

A relative newcomer to the rum distilling industry is Wicked Dolphin. The distillery opened its doors in 2012 and has since become a well-respected Floridian rum producer (via Wicked Dolphin). With a focus on using local ingredients, including Florida-grown cane sugar, the brand's range of rums has gained acclaim for their nuanced flavor profiles.

This is no truer than with Wicked Dolphin's coconut rum. While many other coconut rums on the market are dominated by an often sickly sweetness, Wicked Dolphin's offering demonstrates multiple aspects of coconut flavor, including toasted flakes and even coconut cream pie, as per Distiller. This divergence from other, single-note coconut rums may be due to the addition of coconut water which dominates the aroma of the rum. Finally, added flavors may be picked up due to the aging process, a part of which occurs in old bourbon barrels. The end result of all these processes is a distinctively coconut-flavored rum that demonstrates the nut's full array of flavors.

8. Montauk Rumrunners

While New York might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of rum, Montauk, a family-run distiller named after the town where it is based hopes to change that (via Montauk Rum Runners). In a written interview the four co-founders of Montauk Rum Runners explained why they decided to start distilling in this slightly obscure location. They tell Whalebone, "We started this business about a year ago with the hope of bringing our family closer together, celebrating our family's history in Montauk and celebrating all the hardworking families that pioneered the old Montauk Fishing Village and that make up this town today. We wanted to make sure that our brand covered the individual tastes of everyone in our family, which is how we decided to make a rum, whiskey, and gin. Also, these were the prominent liquors imported by rum runners during prohibition, so it was an easy decision." 

The small batch spirit, which is only available in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, is a study in smooth, lightly flavored rum, (via Total Wine & More). A fact that may surprise those drinkers who have become accustomed to the industry standard of almost syrupy coconut rums. Drink it neat to enjoy the subtle flavors or combine it with a light mixer. However, it is best to avoid using Montauk's coconut rum in a busy cocktail as the delicate flavors will most likely be drowned out.

7. Monkey Rum

Celebrity involvement in spirits brands has traditionally been a very hit-or-miss practice. Fortunately, there is no celebrity better suited to launching a spirits brand than Zane Lamprey, comedian, and host of several drinks-related television shows including "Chug" and "Drinking Made Easy" (via The Spirits Business). Monkey Rum with Toasted Coconut, the liquor Lamprey has released, is available in New Jersey, California, and Florida. Speaking to the publication, Lamprey had this to say about the launch, "I set out to create a Rum that captured the spirit of my adventures — a more evolved rum compared to what was available on the market. After years of refinement and testing, this product is something I am incredibly proud of."

And proud he should be. Monkey Rum with Toasted Coconut contains several hallmarks of a good coconut rum, including hints of vanilla, a suitable level of sweetness, and a gentle aroma (via Wine Enthusiast). The rum could act as a solid staple in most home bars, providing a good base for popular rum cocktail recipes or as a delightfully sweet sipper.

6. Aluna Coconut Rum

As we have previously mentioned, one of the defining — and most polarizing — features of numerous coconut rums is their incredible sweetness. For some, this is where the spirit's appeal lies. However, for others, this sweetness not only dominates their palate but also raises concerns over sugar and flavoring consumption and the associated impacts this might have on health. A brand that has identified this is Aluna, as cofounder Guy Ritchie explains to The Buyer, "After years of being exposed to synthetic, sugary coconut flavors, one of the biggest challenges we found was re-introducing people to reconsider coconut rum." He goes on to explain, "This is made from first-press sugar cane fermented with yeast from the pineapple plant to give a subtle natural sweetness. We add sustainably sourced pure coconut water when we cut to bottling strength and this softens the mouthfeel and extends the coconut flavor."

As a healthier alternative, Aluna coconut rum prides itself on being low in sugar while still maintaining an impressive amount of flavor (via The Telegraph). Being a blend of both Caribbean and Guatemalan rums, Aluna demonstrates an interesting flavor marked by low levels of sweetness, a tinge of bitterness, and the distinct flavor of coconut (via Difford's Guide). In short, this is a high-quality, healthier coconut rum that presents adult flavors for those who like their rum neat or in pared-down cocktails.

5. Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coconut Rum

Having received a score of 90 out of 100 from Wine Enthusiast and a record-setting 91 from the Beverage Tasting Institute (via Brinley Gold Shipwreck), Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coconut Rum is a very highly-regarded spirit. This is largely due to its flavor profile which demonstrates numerous different tasting notes without one becoming overly dominant. A fact that spirits writer, Paul Senft explains to Distiller, "The aroma has a strong natural coconut note with hints of alcohol around the edges. As you taste, the promised coconut from the aroma is delivered without the artificial chemical bite you find in other flavored rums. The coconut flavor lasts well into the finish and is never dominated by the alcohol." 

The emphasis on natural flavors makes the spirit perfect for sipping on the rocks and is what distinguishes this coconut rum from other, similar spirits in the marketplace. What's more, Brinley Gold shipwreck Coconut Rum is incredibly affordable, retailing at around $25 (via Total Wines & More), meaning this distinguished sipper can be poured both liberally and frequently.

4. Oak and Palm Coconut Rum

Another high-quality coconut rum made in the state of Florida, St. Petersburg Distillery's coconut rum is a perfect example of how to create a coconut-dominant spirit without sacrificing other flavors (via St. Petersburg Distillery). Distiller contributor Amanda Schuster describes it as, "A coconut rum that doesn't taste like it was made in a lab! Sweet vanilla and icing sugar flavors mix with true coconut. It tastes almost like drinking a good coconut cake, with a slight floral note. Finishes clean and subtle."

The aforementioned floral notes are not something frequently expressed in coconut rums yet it allows this one the opportunity to star in a range of cocktails from Bahama Mamas to an elevated rum and Coke. That being said, many customers state that the spirit is so well-balanced that all it requires is a smattering of ice cubes (via Total Wines & More). We will leave you to work out your preferred means of consumption.

3. Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Rum

Produced by Troy Roberts in Sarasota, Florida, Siesta Key Toasted Coconut is a highly lauded rum that is produced in small batches (via Siesta Key Rum). This particular rum has been well received by judges, critics, and consumers alike with Distiller contributor Paul Senft even awarding it a 90 out of 100. The range of flavors present is simply incredible for a flavored rum, including vanilla, coconut, honey, spices, and more.

Yet, it is the absence of some unwanted, namely artificial flavors, that judges are often most grateful for. This fact was highlighted after Siesta Key Toasted Coconut won the best-flavored rum category at the 2016 Caribbean Journal's Rum Awards. As the Herald-Tribune reports, the judges stated, "The flavored rum category has all kinds of varieties, though too often one finds rums long on artificial ingredients and short on quality. That's not the case with Siesta Key's Toasted Coconut rum, a superb expression infusing white rum with real shredded coconut. The result is, well, spectacular." To make matters even better, this brilliant rum is extremely affordable, retailing at around $25 a bottle (via Wine to Ship). Trust us when we say you will be hard-pressed to find another spirit of this quality, at such a low price. 

2. Kōloa Kaua'i Coconut Rum

As highlighted by Hawaii Beverage Guide, Kōloa Rum Company was launched in 2007 to fill the gap left by Hawaii's abandoned sugar trade. Interestingly, all rum Kōloa Rum Company is made using cane sugar and not molasses, as CEO Bob Gunter explains, "Our rum is unique and distinctly different; the flavor profile and depth of our rum is from not using molasses. The fact is that it's a byproduct of the sugar-making process. It's been stripped. It's been cooked and processed, and cooked and processed. All that's left is a thick, dark mess to deal with, and a mess to dispose of as opposed to starting with cane juice and syrup, which is very clean and benign."

The spirit has won numerous awards including a gold medal at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a double gold at the 2022 SIP Awards (via Kōloa Rum Company). The coconut rum is further improved by the natural, volcanic-filtered water taken from nearby Mount Wai'ale'ale. Add to this a relatively high 40% ABV and you get a rum that is dry on the palate with strong hints of coconut and citrus (via Drizly). This is a tasty combination that is sure to surprise even the most seasoned drinker.

1. Coconut Cartel

The vast majority of rums on this list are relatively short-aged, pale spirits flavored through the inclusion of natural coconut flavorings or other additions. In contrast, Coconut Cartel relies on an extensive, sometimes 12-year, aging process that imparts a multitude of complex, dark spirit flavors into the liquor. Coconut Cartel also notes that, after blending, the rum is cut with fresh coconut water. This addition interacts with the multitude of flavors present in the spirit, taming some and elevating others, all while adding texture and diluting the spirit to the desirable 40% ABV (via Wine Enthusiast).

To say this unique spirit has been popular would be an understatement. In fact, so widely has it been lauded that the co-founder of Coconut Cartel, Danielle Zighelboim, was included in Forbes' prestigious 30 Under 30 list. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this specialty rum is more expensive than most others on this list, retailing at around $35 (via Total Wines & More). However, there's not a better coconut rum on the entire market. So, be sure to try this delightful spirit at the next opportunity and experience how Coconut Cartel is redefining what coconut rum can be.