House-blending rum and Frankenrum

Rum is a wonderful—and frustrating—category. But one of the wonderful things about rum (perhaps not all, but most examples) is that they blend easily and additively. The exotic drink genre is largely built on this fact. But in addition to blending rums for a particular drink—Don the Beachcomber-style—I’ve found that blending rums can be useful to circumvent some limitations in the marketplace.

For example, I have a house Jamaican rum blend of 2/3 of Appleton’s baseline rum (they’ve been fiddling with the name, but it used to be called VX and that’s what I know it as) and 1/3 Smith & Cross. I have used this blend to excellent effect for nearly a decade in nearly any old mixed drink recipe that calls for Jamaican rum. This blend strikes a balance of richness and depth (Appleton), and funk (Smith & Cross) that no single product on the market today does. It’s also an economical blend—nothing expensive in there.

Am I approximating what Jamaican rum used to be, say, fifty years ago? Not empirically, but I have found this house blend’s performance in vintage recipes better than if I just used any current off-the-shelf product. (Alas, there’s no way to blend your way to a pre-revolution Bacardi rum!)

Blending is also a great way to recover bar space when you find yourself with a bunch of nearly-empty bottles of rum: bin them together. Use the result in punch, or just drink it. Chances are, it’ll be delicious. I call these ad hoc blends Frankenrum.


I have a bottle I mixed up and labeled “Mai Tai Rum Mix” a few years back. The original blend was similar to yours in that it was a strong deep base of Jamaican and then a bit of funk. After a few weeks and a few drinks, I started topping it off with the dregs of rum bottles, and now it is a rather lovely blend that gets better with each addition. I should check the proof on this blend at some point…

I made a similar blend with only wheated bourbons that I use for the Manhattan habit my wife is burdened with. Tastes great in that it is better than the sum of its parts.


Necessity is the mother of invention, whether due to lack of availability / accessibility, or simply for improvement’s sake. Obviously this applies to all spirit categories beyond rum as well. When we experienced the very first Rittenhouse Rye hiccups back in '06 / '07, we worked up a house blend of WT101 Rye & Old Overholt that well-sufficed. What’s changed since then is that the toolbox of ingredients to choose from is much larger.