RumX Awards 2023

Top independent bottlers

As 2023 comes to an end, it's time for something big in the world of rum – the RumX Awards! We're doing it a bit early this year, right in December's festive season, perfect for trying out rums. Get ready to check out the best rums and the latest developments in the rum world. 🎄🏅

8 December 2023

Checking in a review with the RumX App

Unsure what this is about? The RumX Awards are our annual celebration of the most significant happenings in the rum world, offering a deep dive into the data amassed by our RumX community. We reflect on the standout rums and rum bottlers, and applaud the top distilleries and countries, with all decisions based entirely on community reviews submitted by our members over the past 12 months. Our premier award categories include the top rum releases and rum bottlers of the year, all determined by the verdicts of the world’s leading community of rum aficionados - our over 30,000 RumX users.

Thanks to the amazing activity of our community, the RumX database vividly tells the story of the past year: Since December 2022, we've received over 74,173 rum reviews, an increase of +31,2% from last year, and we've added 3,636 new rums to our database – another remarkable growth of +31,5%, further expanding our leading position as the largest rum database in the world. The average rating by our community members rose to 7.76 points out of 10, a slight increase from 7.72 in 2022. These ratings are a testament not just to the quality of rums enjoyed, but also to the broad range and the quality of rums tasted by our RumX members.

Before delving into our review, we want to express deep gratitude for the vibrant passion within our community. It's not just about recording your reviews and suggesting new bottles for the database but also about the dynamic interactions in our forum, the joy of sharing bottle splits, and participating in events like the German Rum Festival or Whisky Live in Paris. The enthusiastic exchange about new releases and favorites among like-minded individuals truly inspires us. A heartfelt thank you to our amazing community for your awe-inspiring enthusiasm and for making RumX a leading companion in the rum world. We eagerly anticipate journeying through 2024 together!

Top Bottlers of 2023

After these introductory words, let’s jump straight into the first category - our top independent bottlers of the year. In this category, the focus is on the entire range of rums issued by a single company over 12 months, not just on singular highlights, which find a place in our Top Rums of 2023. Releasing a series of exceptional bottles showcases a bottler's expertise in cask selection, reflecting both their accomplishments in the past year and the promise for future releases. Maintaining excellence across numerous high-quality releases throughout the year is an impressive achievement; this category aims to honor those who have mastered this art in the past year and gained broad market recognition for their consistently outstanding releases.

Our criteria

Our criteria are tailored to reflect our community's perspectives and the influence bottlers have had on our RumX members: We considered all bottlers that released at least 10 rums between December 1st, 2022, and November 30th, 2023, and received a minimum of 100 community ratings for these new releases (i.e., excluding any ratings for rums released earlier). The final ranking is based on the highest average community scores. Now, let's move beyond theory and unveil the top bottlers of 2023!

The winners

This year, The Whisky Jury clinches the top spot with an impressive average score of 8.61 points from 162 ratings. In the past twelve months they introduced 12 new rums to our community, ranging from all-time favorites like a Hampden 1990 bottling to unique offerings such as their recent release of a 44-year-old rum from a 1978 vintage, originating from an undisclosed Caribbean distillery. This diverse selection is a testament to their exceptional cask selection and bottling expertise, precisely what we value in this category. A huge round of applause to The Whisky Jury, our Best Bottler of 2023!

Our rank 2 is shared this year - first winner is Decadent Drinks, which might be better known in the rum world by their Rum Sponge brand. Angus and his team released a total of 18 new rums and landed an average score of 8.53 points (286 ratings) and thus secured the second spot on the podium for this year. The releases included stellar single casks like a Clarendon 1997 or Enmore 1992 but als bold experiments like a blend of Clarendon and Caroni that was not seen before on the rum market; but also some other great selections from Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica found their ways into our community’s glasses and left us deeply impressed. Great work!

Second bottler with a silver medal are our Danish friends from Nobilis Rum, which - since their launch a few years ago - kept on surprising us with their splendid selections and top-class releases. Also last year we’ve seen great releases, among them the Enmore 1994 REV, a 1997 Diamond, a 2003 T.D.L. or a 2004 Clarendon. In total, 13 new rums qualified for our ranking which collected a total of 174 community ratings and an average score of 8.53 points, just like Decadent Drinks.

The following ranks are populated by well-established names like Velier (rank 4 with a staggering 90 rum releases) or Romdeluxe (rank 8 with 8.20 points gathered from 519 reviews of 66 rums released) but also rising stars like Famille Ricci (rank 7 with 30 rum releases, 8.24 points). What is striking is the range of rum releases: While Rum Artesanal just got into the ranking with 11 releases in the past twelve months, Velier topped the chart with 90 rum releases in the past 12 months - equalling almost two rums per week. It does not come as a major surprise that Velier also garnered the highest number of reviews, namely 569, whereas Famille Ricci received “only” 136 reviews. An interesting ratio which we’d like to coin as “community interest score” can be derived from the average number of reviews per rum release - here the list shifts a bit and we see Spirit of Rum in the lead with an average of 23.0 reviews per rum release, followed by Swell de Spirits (21.5) and Rum Artesanal (21.0). The strong interest expressed by this metric is also reflected when comparing this year’s list with the one from 2022 - both Spirit of Rum, Swell de Spirits, and Rum Artesanal defended their slots in our annual top list together with Velier and Nobilis who also ranked high last year. We appreciate the dynamics on the list as well as the overall quality as expressed by the rating scores - once more, all bottlers listed achieved an average of beyond 8.0 ("very good"). Well done, kudos to all listed bottlers!

  1. The Whisky Jury: 8.61/10 (163 ratings)
  2. Decadent Drinks LTD: 8.53/10 (286 ratings)
  3. Nobilis Rum: 8.53/10 (174 ratings)
  4. Velier: 8.47/10 (569 ratings)
  5. Swell de Spirits: 8.42/10 (344 ratings)
  6. Spirit of Rum: 8.38/10 (391 ratings)
  7. Famille Ricci: 8.24/10 (136 ratings)
  8. Romdeluxe: 8.20/10 (519 ratings)
  9. Rum Artesanal: 8.06/10 (231 ratings)
  10. The Colours of Rum: 8.05/10 (413 ratings)

Voices of the winners

“It's fantastic to be the best “Bottler of 2023”! We feel honored to receive recognition from such a connoisseur audience. It makes it clear that RumX is a platform of enthusiasts with a particularly sophisticated and trained pallet.” - The Whisky Jury

“It's humbling and extremely encouraging to get this recognition from the RumX community. We're very grateful to everyone who voted for and scored our bottlings! Working with RumX has been great for us, not only in helping bring our bottlings to more people, but also in helping us better understand rum and the preferences of rum drinkers, which in turn hopefully means we make even better product selections going forwards.” - Decadent Drinks Ltd. (Angus MacRaild)

“Velier has always been active in promoting rum around the world. The rise of this magnificent distillate can be achieved by bottling great rums as co-bottlers, as we do, but also with the passionate work of a company like RumX, which brings together the community of rum geeks and has the aim of an ever wider knowledge and sharing of rum.” - Velier (Luca Gargano)

“A great feeling and honored to be within top 5 bottlers - we at Swell de Spirits are passionate about what we do and grateful to all RumX community for their support and feedback this year! Special thanks to the RumX team for creating an open and safe community for enthusiast to come together and share their experience!” - Swell de Spirits (Mika Barbaria)

“We only bottle rums when we are 100% confident in their exceptional quality. Taste is subjective, so it's incredibly rewarding when the community celebrates our bottlings as much as we do. Climbing the top bottler charts for two consecutive years is fantastic and a great honor. The RumX app is the perfect platform for engaging with the community, and we extend a huge thanks to everyone!” - Spirit of Rum (Dirk Becker)

“This prize rewards our philosophy, convictions and our work and it motivates us to continue on that way. RumX is a great and complete application which allows for us to have returns of our products and our work directly via the last customers and it’s very important.” - Famille Ricci (Morgan & Esteban)

“We are very proud to receive this honor. Through 2023 we have participated in several fairs in Europe. On our tours we have met with a lot of rum enthusiasts, and got the chance to talk about the passion of rum. RumX is a huge part of this passion, not only have we met and talked with a lot of RumX members, but we also feel that the members of this community take part in reviewing our rums, to tell us what they think about what we do. That's something we appreciate a lot.” - Romdeluxe (Michael Ginnerup)

“…yes, we did it again! This year, you have once again voted our Rum Artesanal releases into the top 10 best independent bottlers of 2023. We say thank you - and look forward to more exciting and exclusive bottlings in 2024.” - Rum Artesanal

“RumX, you've caught us blushing like a perfectly aged rum! Huge thanks to our fans for sipping, savoring, and sharing the love. The Colours of Rum is raising a glass to all the unexpected twists and turns in this flavorful journey!” - The Colours of Rum

What’s next?

Before we finish this first part, let's have a quick look at what's coming up next: After our celebration of the best independent bottlers of last year, we're going to shift our focus to individual rum releases that hit the market in 2023 and received the highest appraisal from our RumX community. We'll be naming our top rums of the year and also revealing some hidden gems:

RumX Awards 2023: Part II

Want to help pick the best rums for next year's RumX Awards? Download the newest RumX app, look through lots of rums, and share your reviews. Your thoughts really matter for picking the winners in 2024. Be a part of our rum-loving community and let us know what you think!

Download app on app store Download app on google play

Tell us about your highlights

As we conclude this article, we're curious to hear from you, our passionate RumX community. What independent bottler has excited you the most this year? And are you missing a bottler on the list?

Share your thoughts and preferences in the comments below – we're excited to hear about your top picks and why they stood out for you!