The story of 151 Rum started with Bacardi 151. Their overproof Rum product got named after its high level of alcohol which is exactly 151 proof (or 75.5 ABV).
This alcohol level is much higher than regular Rum or other liquors contain. The typical range is between 70 and 80 proof (35 - 40% vol). -Due to the high alcohol content, Bacardi 151 Rum was easily inflammable and therefore often used to bring some fire effects to cocktails.
What started as a fancy gimmick loved by bartenders and customers alike, turned out to be a death sentence for Bacardi 151 in the long run.
What is 151 Rum?
In the beginning, 151 Rum was a synonym for the high-proof version of Bacardi. They sold this Rum in the States and Canada between 1963 and 2016.
In 2016 the company discontinued the Rum without further information. But as always, there were some rumors about why Bacardi 151 was discontinued. But I will get back to that in a minute.
Today, the term 151 Rum usually refers to a category of Rum. Because Bacardi 151 was a staple in Tiki bars and became the go-to product for fire garnishes, other brands also created Rums of 151 proof.
There are plenty of options available, some produced by renowned Rum brands, others from new and upcoming distilleries. You can find an overview of the best alternatives to Bacardi 151 below.
Why was Bacardi 151 discontinued?
Bacardi never made an official statement on why they stopped producing their 151 Rum. But the company faced multiple lawsuits where consumers claimed they got seriously wounded by flames that arose from the 151 Rum.
It seems only logical that Bacardi eventually has had enough of this. The risk of damaging their reputation probably had been too high. Still, we don't know for sure if that was the real reason.
Until they decided to discontinue 151 Rum, Bacardi tried to warn about using their product for the risky fire garnish on their bottles. -On every bottle, you could find a note saying: do not use this product for flaming dishes or other drinks.
On the other hand, the brand knew that the product was famous for these flames and advertised the feature.
How does Bacardi 151 Rum taste?
The high amount of alcohol hits immediately. There is an extreme burn coming from the alcohol. Once that initial burn has passed, you can taste subtle notes of oak, vanilla, and fruits. But most of the flavors are covered behind a burning wall of alcohol.
Alternatives to Bacardi 151
It was a shame that Bacardi discontinued its high-proof Rum. But there are plenty of substitutes for Rum 151. I listed the best ones below in no particular order. All do a great job replacing Bacardi 151 in cocktails or as a flammable garnish.
- Gosling’s Black Seal Dark 151 Rum (151 proof)
- Pusser’s British Navy Overproof Rum (151 proof)
- Plantation Overproof O.F.T.D. Rum (138 proof)
- Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum (126 proof)
- Don Q 151 Rum (151 proof)
Gosling’s Black Seal Dark 151 Rum
Gosling's Black Seal Dark Rum is probably my favorite alternative to Bacardi 151. The Bermudan Rum of 151 proof has a rich and complex flavor profile.
Its rich taste makes it a great fit as an ingredient in Tiki cocktails like a Mai Tai. Also, it is a nice Rum for floating and flammable garnishes in drinks and desserts.
Pusser’s British Navy Overproof Rum
This Rum also clocks in at 75,5% vol. (151 proof). It is a blend of various Rums from Caribbean islands like Barbados and Guyana.
The high proof and intense flavors don't make it a great fit for beginners. Yet, experienced Rum fans will love the full-bodied taste with hints of sweetness and notes of tropical fruits and spice.
Plantation Overproof O.F.T.D. Rum
O.F.T.D is short for Old Fashioned Traditional Dark. It is a Rum full of flavor made by blending some of the best Caribbean Rums. Distillates from Guyana, Jamaica, and Barbados create this rich and flavorful blended Rum.
The result is a complex profile with hints of coffee, oranges, tropical fruits, and truffles. It contains slightly less alcohol than a standard 151 Rum ( it "only" levels at 138) but is an excellent alternative to Bacardi 151 Rum flavor-wise.
Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
At 126 proof, this Jamaican Rum has a slightly lower alcohol level than the other products on the list. It lacks the typical sweetness and bold flavors Rum is famous for. Still, it is a great replacement for the original 151 Rum and has quite a unique character.
This Rum packs a punch and is an exceptional ingredient in many Rum cocktails. It is, for example, one of the best Rums for making Mojitos.
Don Q 151 Rum
That is another 151 Rum and a fantastic Bacardi 151 substitute. It comes from Puerto Rico and has an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel. Barrel-aged for at least three years, the Rum has some lovely woody notes.
On top, the Rum is also delicately sweet and has beautiful notes of dark fruits and spices.
How to use 151 Rum
You can use 151 Rum in two ways. One way is to use it as a regular cocktail ingredient in cocktail recipes. The other is to create flammable garnishes.
For the latter, you typically pour 151 Rum into a hollow half of a lime. Then you ignite the Rum. Sprinkling powdered cinnamon on top before setting the Rum on fire creates some flashy special effects.
Cinnamon is highly flammable and creates the sparkling fire you might know from your visits to a Tiki bar.
151 Rum FAQs
You may be lucky and find a bottle of Bacardi 151 somewhere at the back of a liquor shelf. But generally, the product is completely sold out.
However, what you can get is 151 Rum produced by other brands. So, in that sense, yes, you can still buy 151 Rum.
Actually, no. 151 Rum from Bacardi or other brands contains so much alcohol that, technically, it cannot go bad. What can happen, though, is that the spirit loses flavors over time due to evaporation.
Yes, Bacardi 151 and other Rums containing an equal amount of alcohol are perfectly legal in California. The current legal limit is 153 proof or 76.5% vol. Any liquor with a higher amount of alcohol is illegal in California.
You can't buy it anymore, but Bacardi 151 used to sell for $20 to $25 per bottle. Alternatives like Don Q 151 or Cruzan's sell for similar prices.
151 Rum contains 75.5% alcohol by volume. That equals 151 proof, which gave this type of Rum its name.
No, these are not the same products. But both are Rums and contain the same amount of alcohol. Therefore, Don Q is a excellent replacement for Bacardi 151 in cocktail recipes.
One comment on “A Quick Guide on 151 Rum”
Thanks for clarifying :). -I was so confused by the different opinions on this Rum... Awesome write up.