What is the best rum for making vanilla extract at home?
While we are constantly experimenting with rums in extract making, the list above is our current top-10 favorite list, with our most favorite as #1 and our least favorite as #10, but all of them work just fine. Rums are sugar-based and are a great spirit for enhanced sweetness in your DIY vanilla extracts.
Check back often as we will update this list from time to time as we conduct more experiments. Click any of the links below to learn more about each spirit. Our good friends at Drizly offer thorough descriptions (and often great deals if available for shipping in your area) on each spirit. Happy extracting!!
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- Kirk & Sweeney Gran Reserva - This is a beautiful, top-shelf rum. It's expensive and you certainly don't need to go expensive when you make extracts, but for special gifts or a sweet and sophisticated extract for yourself, this rum not only provides you with a beautiful bottle, but an amazing taste. By itself it tastes of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and oak. After 12-18 months of extraction, it produces a vanilla extract like none other, which is why it sits at #1 on our list.
- Bacardi Superior White Rum - This is a simple, affordable and very sweet rum. We like white rums because of their neutral flavor that allows the vanilla beans to be the star of your extract show, but since they are a sugar-based, they add sweetness to your vanilla that only rum can.
- Captain Morgan White Rum - Another white rum that is perfectly sweet, understated, affordable and terrific for vanilla extract for added sugar sweetness.
- Bacardi Gold - If you aren't sure about using bourbon or rum in your next extract, this sweet and affordable rum is the perfect hybrid. It's sugar based, so it's sweet. But it's also matured in an oak cask like bourbon is, so it boasts notes of vanilla, ginger root and toasted almond. We love this rum for almost every type of vanilla bean extract.
- Captain Morgan Spiced Rum - Spiced rum is the only artificially-flavored spirit that we recommend. We noticed that the new label on this rum highlights its use of Madagascar vanilla beans. It only recently called out the vanilla and we'd like to believe that we had something to do with that, since our spiced rum vanilla extract has been one of our favorites for years, and our spiced rum vanilla extract recipe has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. It's wonderful and the Captain Morgan people are smart to call out the use of vanilla. However, as a free tip to the Captain Morgan people: It's even better with Mexican vanilla beans.
- The Kraken Spiced 94 - If you love Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and you want to take your spiced rum vanilla extract to a deeper, darker, richer molasses level of extract, than this rum is for you. We enjoy a super dark spiced rum extract in some of our holiday cooking and pumpkin spice recipes.
- Ron Zacapa 23 - From Guatemala, a beautiful blended rum that is rested for 23 years in wood casks that once held American whiskey, Spanish sherries and wines. The result is a super sweet rum with hints of caramel, cacao, butterscotch, coffee, Brazil nuts, pineapple, banana and toffee. Paired with Mexican, Madagascar, Tanzanian or Indonesian vanilla beans for 18-24 months, and you will have an extract that is beautiful. This is obviously a more expensive rum, but it's beautiful and the extract is exquisite. The bottle is also beautiful for extract making.
- Bumbu - From Barbados, a traditional sweet Caribbean rum that includes a hint of smokey spice, but underlined with traditional rum sweetness. It's affordable for its quality, and the bottle is fun too.
- Diplomatico - This is an award winning sipping rum from Venezuela. It highlights flavors that include toffee, orange peel and licorice. It is the perfect spirit for vanilla beans that have hints of anise and soft fruit, like Ecuadorian, Sentani Indonesian and many of the Tahitian and South Pacific Island vanilla beans.
- Papa's Pilar - Last on our list, but still a lovely rum for extract making. From Key West, FL and named after Ernest Hemingway (Papa) and his boat (The Pilar), this beautiful rum produces a beautiful vanilla extract at a great price. You will discover notes of maple, chocolate, dried fig and candied orange which make it a perfect spirit for vanilla beans from Sri Lanka, The Congo, Tanzania, Madagascar, Peru and Brazil.
Learn more tips and tricks about extract making by visiting our DIY Extract Guide Center.