Best in Class – The World Rum Awards

Ron de Jeremy XO Rum review by the fat rum pirateI’m sure we have all seen the gold medals before, either on the actual bottle or for more premium offerings, on the box.

Indicating success at numerous competitions and award ceremonies.  Proof beyond all proof that what you have just shelled all that money out for is the crème de la crème of the rum world.

After all there is little more to say about a rum or any other product for that matter if it is an “award winning” product.  The very phrase suggests a quality product which is far better than others in its class.

However, with so many competitions and award ceremonies there are a number of rums claiming to be the best in the world and hundreds more claiming to be best in class.

Add to this ever growing number – the runners up, the silver medalists and the bronze medalists.  Thrown in the odd “honourable” mention and before you know it just about every rum on the planet has some kind of gong to be shouting about!

So here at we have decided to take a closer look into all these competitions and award ceremonies.  Scratch below the surface to reveal the true meaning of “Best in Class” or even more worrying “The Worlds Best”.

“Best in Class” will offer an insight into those shiny gold medals that glimmer at you from the bottles and boxes in the liquor store.

First up in the series is the aptly titled

World Rum Awards




(Click on the logo to be taken to the site)

I’ve been sitting on this article for quite some time waiting for the right time to publish. With the news (and its not an April fool) that Ron de Jeremy XO had won World’s Best Dark Rum Aged 13+ years, I felt it was about the right time.

The World Rum Awards are in conjunction with The Drinks Report (your first area of concern should be the companies tag line).

The World Rum Awards have been running since 2007 according to the website, yet they only show the winners for 2014 to 2016.  In 2014 Captain Bligh XO was the overall top choice, in 2015 Pusser’s 15 Year Old walked away with the title and this year the overall winner was the very handsomely title Bundaberg Rum Master Distillers’ Collection – Blenders Edition 2015.  Which must be a hell of a lot better than standard Bundy!

The first thing that strikes me as a little odd is the presence of Pusser’s.  No not in that they have won an award, as the World’s Best Rum (far worse rums have been given such accolades over the years) but more their presence as Best Overproof rum in 2014 and 2015.  The 15 Year Old has also won two awards in 2015 – Best Rum In the World and Best Dark Rum in the World.

The thing is the award winning Overproof Pusser’s is the “Super Overproof” 75% version not the 54.5% “Gunpowder” (old blue label in the UK).  Why is this odd? Well for a kick off its only available in Germany………Pussers Super Overproof rum review by the fat rum pirate

So what about this years awards? Well like previous years it seems that the same companies are winning big in multiple categories.  This years line up sees Bundaberg win the “Best” titles with two different rums.  Winning both the dark and gold title with the same rum!

Bayou rum walk away with gongs for both their Spiced and White variants.  I’ve little doubt further digging would probably reveal closer ties between some of these rums (producers, distributors, marketing teams etc)

Something also troubles me about Bundaberg winning the World’s Best Overall,  World’s Best Dark and World’s Best Gold.  How exactly are these rum’s being chosen and by whom?

Now this is the part where I must give the World Rum Awards some credit.  They are very transparent with regard how rums are selected and come to be in the competition.

The awards are split into two headings Taste and Design.


TASTE judging is conducted blind and held in three stages:

Round 1
Each rum is tasted in its relevant sub-category to identify and select the sub-category winners and award any medals. Judges making up the World Rum Awards panel include leading journalists, specialist drinks retailers, bartenders/mixologists and hoteliers.

Rounds 2 & 3
Sub-category winners are tasted against each other to identify the ‘Best’ rum in each category and the ‘Best’ rums in each category are then tasted against each other one last time to select the World’s Best Rum. Judges at this stage include those in Round 1 to whom are added a panel of leading distillers and experts from the international rum industry.

The Judging Criteria

Each entry is tasted blind and marked to an agreed and strictly enforced marking system. As well as nose, palate and finish the judges will look for:

  • Balance
  • Character
  • Complexity
  • Quality
  • Functionality


All DESIGN judging is conducted by a panel of leading international design experts.

Round 1
Each product is reviewed in its relevant category to identify and select the category winners and award any medals.

Round 2
Category winners from Round 1 are assessed against one other to identify the ‘World’s Best Rum Design’ and the highest scoring products are then added together to select the ‘World’s Best Rum Design Agency’.

Design Awards

Judges will assess entries purely on the quality of the design and innovative use of materials and production techniques. All entries in each category are judged together by all judges and are scored against clearly defined criteria:

  • Breakthrough in category
  • Confidence
  • Craft skills
  • Insight
  • Inspiration

Now this is all well and good.  Okay I’m not too stuck on the whole “Design Awards” but hey each to their own.

If you enter the World Rum Awards they promise logo packs and inclusion in the World Rum Awards Boxed Set.  Basically the World Rum Awards will give your brand a real push in the marketing world.  Coverage in the press and a strong presence at trade fairs etc.

Except all this advertising and help from the World Rum Awards isn’t free.  To enter your rum into the World Rum Awards it will set you back as follows

1 entry £192

2 entries £186 each

3 entries £180 each

4 entries £174 each

Now for many distillers and brands this doesn’t represent much of an outlay.  Pusser’s and Bundaberg clearly saw this as an ideal opportunity to put more than one entry into the Competition.

It also seems that for the 2016 awards more categories have been added. This link takes you into all the categories and winners.  There were certainly more opportunities to “win” an award this year.

If you analyse each category more closely you will notice that most categories do not have the promised Gold, Silver and Bronze winners.  More often than not there is just the overall winner.  So why might this be?

imageWell from looking right through all the entries it appears only a few companies have even taken part.

The Design Category is even worse with El Ron Prohibido getting best Design in 2015.  Clearly the almost photocopy standard of the label had little effect on the judges……..

Now I appreciate the transparency of the information provided to us by the World Rum Awards – even if you do have to do a little digging to find it all.  The idea that the rum is blind tasted is a good one.  However, there seems little value to running a serious 2 stage competition when you have only one entry for a particular category.

There is also little information on who the judges actually are…….

This competition hasn’t really caught the imagination.  If I was however in charge of a smaller distillery or brand trying to get recognised I would certainly pay the entry fee – and hope the number of entrants remains low.Captain Bligh XO Reserve Rum

I bought a bottle of Captain Bligh XO (not on the basis of winning this award I must add) and it had all the stickers and logos on the box concerning its “victory”.  Captain Bligh XO and Pussers aren’t bad rums by any stretch of the imagination, that’s not what this is about.

However, being the Best Rum in the World based on being the only entrant isn’t really helping consumers make wise choices.

If Ron de Jeremy XO is the best Gold rum aged 13+ years then I have no idea what I am talking about and my review is complete b*llocks.

Just for clarity this isn’t an attack on any of the rum brands involved in the competition or the organisers.  I’ve merely used the information freely available to try and capture exactly how this competition is ran.  If anyone involved in the competition wishes to clarify any of the points I have raised please feel free to contact us.



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2 comments on “Best in Class – The World Rum Awards

  1. Ron De Jeremy is a brand that a Finnish advertising agency made up. They got bulk rum blended at least supposedly by Don Pancho (who has been pushed to the audience as a gran ronero in last 5 years). The rum is sweetened, no doubt with glycerines and some simple essences – or at least the taste reeks of this to my palate. A fun idea – but not a rum that I’d be excited about, to be honest. Now how to make an XO out of it? Add MORE sugar…for that smooth, sweetttt taste. Nuff said…

  2. Good post Wes! Nothing common about common sense. Even in the rum world!

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