Rum is complicated business. Depending on where it's made, flavors can be as varied as night and day. There's English-style and also Spanish-style, which are typically made from molasses. Then there's Rhum Agricole – literally, agricultural rum – made from sugarcane juice. Some are light, some dark, some gold, some spiced. Research it even a little, and suddenly that rum-and-coke order isn't so simple anymore.
But it will be, once you've found your favorite. Plantation is a particular one for many rum aficionados, who place this legendary dark version on a pedestal for its double-aging process: After the rum has been barrel-aged in its native land (Plantation bottles in seven different regions), it's whisked away to France and transferred to Cognac casks to age a little while longer – a laborious practice that hasn't been en vogue for a couple hundred years.
In the past, Plantation released gold and dark rums designed for sipping or shaking into dark drinks, so if you required a light rum for your cocktail, you simply had to look elsewhere (such as Bacardi Silver or the recently released Brugal Extra Dry; either is terrible). But when news broke that Plantation was releasing a light rum, heads turned. And true to the brand's reputation, its flavor delivers, far outshining others in this category.
Named for a blend of three historical Caribbean island "stars" of rum-producing – namely Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad – Plantation 3 Stars white rum is far and away the best light rum we've ever tasted. Perhaps it's because there's some aged rum in the blend (despite it being a white rum by name). In the mix: a 3-year-old Trinidad, an un-aged Barbados for balance, and both a 12-year and an un-aged Jamaican rum. Even at 82 proof, it's smooth enough to sip neat, which isn't the case with most silvers, and its light body is excellent for delicate rum cocktails, such as the classic daiquiri or the minty-fresh mojito. Plantation might have done better introducing 3 Stars in the warmer, first half of the year rather than the second. But something tells us it doesn't pay much attention to getting the word out about its products. Then again why should it – the rum speaks for itself. [$25; plantationrum.com]