Tired of the same old rum drinks? Try making Vanilla Rum! Warning: you have to plan ahead . . .

Vanilla Rum

Ahh, sailors and rum. A storied connection, and in much of the Caribbean, rum is the most affordable alcoholic drink, sometimes cheaper than beer even.

And so the happy hour choices become Pain Killers, Piña Coladas, Daquiris and Rum & Coke. All great drinks, but how about something different?

When we were aboard Beagle Knot in January, LaDonna pulled out a special treat one day: Vanilla Rum that she and Denis had made. It’s a nice sipping rum (we loved it) and dead easy to do.

Here’s how:

  • Open a bottle of rum. Dark or light can be used; ones that already have flavor or spice should be avoided.
  • Add 3 vanilla beans to a 1 liter bottle — adjust the number of beans for smaller or larger bottles.
  • Recap the bottle and label with the date the vanilla was added.
  • Now for the hard part: put the bottle away and let it steep for 6 months to a year.

Serve in shot glasses or other small glasses. Best sipped, not downed at once as a “shot.” Dave and Denis preferred the dark rum; LaDonna and I both preferred the light.


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  • Joe Paul
    Posted at 24 April 2014 Reply

    I’m inspired – definitely doing this!!

  • Jeanne
    Posted at 24 April 2014 Reply

    Are you cutting open the beans first, to release the seeds inside, or putting them in whole?Cutting them open would probably requiring some filtering during serving, and perhaps the time to wait wouldn’t be so long!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 24 April 2014 Reply

      They simply put the beans in whole (washed, of course!). I agree them open might require filtering and might also make the rum a little cloudy.

  • Michael Teaford
    Posted at 24 April 2014 Reply

    I just got a smoking deal on Vanilla beans, only $100.00 a #. Enough for 6 cases of home made rum. Moonshine rum………………

  • Joe Ralston
    Posted at 25 April 2014 Reply

    Cool. We are definitely doing this.

  • Suzanne @Sprinkled Nest
    Posted at 29 April 2014 Reply

    YUM!!!! Oh, the waiting is the hard part for sure!! So easy…I love it! coming over from SITS! Cheers!

  • Darlene Burnett Price
    Posted at 24 April 2015 Reply

    I make rum vanilla.

  • Wm Jones
    Posted at 15 August 2016 Reply

    Suggestions: heat the rum (the rum doesn’t care and the infusion is faster). Slice the vanilla (do you pick the seeds out of your French vanilla ice cream?). If you are in the states, buy the vanilla from Amazon (high quality product delivered to your marina at low cost). Don’t wash the vanilla (if you need to wash your spice, get a better i.e. clean source). After starting with the gateway spice vanilla, add a little select mulling spices and a little raw brown “turbinado” sugar to the mix for some real fun. [Mulling spices are: cinnamon stick, whole star anise, cloves, allspice, nutmeg (chips), and orange peel] Find your own blend and maybe Cap’n Morgan will finally put his foot down. Me? I add a a small slice of crystallized ginger.

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 15 August 2016 Reply

    Where in god’s name can you find vanilla beans in the islands…..lol

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 15 August 2016 Reply

      You can find them everywhere in Mexico and we got them with no problem in the BVI — haven’t tried elsewhere.

  • James Edgerly
    Posted at 15 August 2016 Reply

    I don’t drink all that often, and when the “urge” hits me I rarely have a year lead time to prepare for it. You got anything with a bit less wait time…like maybe using pure vanilla extract?

  • LaDonna Thomas
    Posted at 15 August 2016 Reply

    I have seen them in the open markets on many caribbean islands!

  • D Wogaman
    Posted at 07 March 2017 Reply

    We love rum and went to many run distilleries around the Caribbean and have just recently visited one in Key West, Florida – a very small distillery that distills six times. Their white rum was quite smooth.

    I was wondering what quality rum do you use. I’m thinking that I might not want to use my personal favorite sipping rum, Ron Zacapa, which is almost $50 now; but probably not the cheap stuff either. Recommendations?


    D and Don Wogaman aboard SOUTHERN CROSS in Key West, FL

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 07 March 2017 Reply

      We don’t use the cheapest but also not the expensive sipping rums, either. Typically bottles in the $15 to $20 range: Bacardi, Cruzan Light, Angostura all have some good choices.

  • Wm Jones
    Posted at 12 October 2017 Reply

    I like adding mulling spices to inexpensive Cruzan. A little star anise and vanilla can make a nice spiced rum as well.

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