Ah, eggnog. Creamy, sweet and a pale golden hue, this drink is basically synonymous with Christmas. But the true star of this heady mixture of beaten eggs, sugar and cream or milk? The booze, of course.
While traditional eggnog can be spiked with everything from bourbon to Sherry to brandy, rum is a particularly popular option—and for good reason. With dark sugar overtones and deeply spicy character, rum provides a uniquely complex foundation for this dessert-like quaff.
“It plays well with the nutmeg and the cinnamon aspect of [eggnog],” says Wine Enthusiast’s senior tasting coordinator Craig Chamberlain. “Once anything—spirit-wise or wine-wise really—spends some time in a barrel, you’ll pick up a lot of those flavors as well.”
But what kind is best in eggnog? There are many different styles of rum, so the answer isn’t always obvious. Do you prefer rum that’s pricey or budget-friendly? White rum or spiced rum? We turned to Chamberlain for some of his favorite bottles. But first, we had some questions.
What Kind of Rum Goes Best with Eggnog?
“I like something with a little bit more body and flavor than say, just like a silver [or white rum],” says Chamberlain. “Those are good, but I feel like you can bring more to the party—the party being eggnog.” That’s why he prefers a spiced rum or an aged rum.
That said, if you’re into more light-flavored, unaged white rum? Chart your own eggnog journey, friend.
How Do You Elevate Eggnog?
With a next-level rum, of course. “I would go to something aged, for instance, something that’s has a few years—at least five, preferably more than 10,” says Chamberlain. These offerings provide a “rounder flavor” that “mellows out a little bit over time to bring out some nuances.”
What’s a Good Eggnog Hack?
Homemade eggnog is great and all, but there’s no shame in the store-bought game. “Totally cheat and buy something at the store premade,” Chamberlain suggests. “There are actually a couple of liquor brands that have non-alcoholic selections at your local grocery store,” he says—Southern Comfort, being one. Make them your own by doctoring with your favorite rum selection.
Excited to whip up some eggnog of your own? Here are rum bottles that Chamberlain thinks shine brightly in eggnog.
The Best Rums for Eggnog
Best Overall: Diplomatico Seleccion De Familia
92 Points Wine Enthusiast
Look for a deep amber hue and oaky aroma with a hint of red fruit. Overall, this is a memorable and relatively dry sipper; oak gives way to toffee and vanilla mid-palate, finishing with plum skin and red fruit warmed by allspice and clove. —Kara Newman$50 Total Wine & More
Best Budget: Cockspur Five Star Fine Rum
94 Points Wine Enthusiast
Look for a golden hue and funky, tropical fruit aromas. The warming, lively palate shows roasted banana, grilled pineapple and buttered popcorn, finishing with gingery zing. This is a single cask rum distilled at Demerara Distillery in 2005, then aged 15 years in the UK in ex-Bourbon casks, and bottled in 2020 at barrel proof. —K.N.$140 Caskers
Best White Rum: Dead Parrot Silver Rum
89 Points Wine Enthusiast
This white rum is light and distinctly coconutty on nose and palate. Hints of marshmallow and charcoal lead into white pepper sparks and a zippy hint of lemon zest. Best Buy —K.N.$21 Drizly
Best Spiced Rum: Crusoe Spiced Rum
93 Points Wine Enthusiast
This silky, particularly aromatic spiced rum is reminiscent of gingerbread, offering plenty of molasses, vanilla, allspice and nutmeg on the nose and palate. Sip or mix into tiki drinks. Top 100 Spirits 2017 —K.N.$37 Wine.com
Best Aged Rum: The Real McCoy Aged 14 Years Limited Edition Rum
96 Points Wine Enthusiast
This limited edition opens with the guns a-blazing: it’s spicy and brisk, loaded with cinnamon and clove. The drying midpalate shifts to oak and walnut, then fades away on gentle, dreamy layers of brown sugar, caramel, orange peel and a hint of dried apricot. Top 100 Spirits 2019 —K.N.$98 Caskers
Best Dark Rum: Mount Gay Black Barrel
94 Points Wine Enthusiast
Finished in “deeply toasted and charred” Bourbon casks, this mouthwatering small-batch rum skews to the sweeter side, offering bold notes of cola, allspice and vanilla, finishing brisk and spicy. Sip straight or mix for the ultimate rum & Coke. —K.N.$45 Total Wine & More
Best Caribbean: Barceló Imperial Onyx Rum
94 Points Wine Enthusiast
This deep amber-hued rum offers a caramel aroma, with an intriguing hint of violet. The silky palate opens with caramel and brown butter, accented by dried fig and walnut, finishing long and gently spiced. Made with a blend of rums aged for 10 years in ex-Bourbon casks with heavy char, then filtered through onyx stones. That unique filtration may not add much except a point to contemplate while sipping, which is highly encouraged. Top 100 Spirits 2018 —K.N.$38 The Whisky Exchange
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All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.
Last Updated: July 12, 2023