Rum is such a diverse spirit. It can be used for sipping, cocktails and more types of drinks than any other alcohol on the market. There are many types of rum to choose from as well, each with their own unique flavor profile and aging process.
In this article we will look at different types of rum, including white rum, dark rum, black rum and gold rums as well as premium aged rums.
When it comes to the different types of rum, there are many options available. Understanding what type or flavor you want will help guide your decision in choosing which one is best for drinking and cocktails. Here we break down some common types that you will find.
What is Rum?
Rum is a distilled liquor that comes from sugar cane juice or molasses. The alcohol is then fermented and stored in barrels before being sold and used in drinks.
Rum is often aged in oak barrels to give it a unique taste that can be enjoyed by many types of drinkers. It is common to find different types of rum that come from different parts of the world such as Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Barbados.
You can also find rum producers in the Philippines and Taiwan. There are also quite a few craft rum distilleries in the United States these days.
History of Rum
Rum is thought to be the oldest commercially made spirit. The popular liquor was first mentioned in records in Barbados dating from 1650.
Rum was initially discovered by enslaved plantation workers in the Caribbean. They distilled fermented molasses into a product that resembled whiskey or French brandy.
This distillate was not known as rum until later when it was exported to other parts of the world. Originally called rumbullion or kill-devil, this strong spirit was used as a mode of salary payment for guards in the 17th century.
Different Types of Rum
Every rum is made from sugar cane or molasses, but that does not mean they are all the same or have similar flavors. There are many different types of rum, with each one having its own unique flavor profile and characteristics. Let’s take a look at some of them below!
1. White Rum
Also known as clear rum, silver rum or light rum, white rum gets its name from the lack of color. White rum is usually aged for less than a year before it is sold. When white rum has been aged, it usually has its color removed by charcoal filtration.
This type of rum is perfect for mixing with other ingredients. Clear rums go well with juice, fruit and other flavors. I prefer white or light rum in my daiquiris, mojitos and mai tais.
Brands of white rum include Bacardi Superior Rum, The Real McCoy 3 Year Silver Rum, Owney’s White Rum and Havana Club Añejo Blanco.
2. Dark Rum
Dark rum has a stronger flavor than light rum because of the longer fermentation time which extracts more of the rum flavors from the sugarcane or molasses base.
Darker rums are also typically aged for much longer in charred oak barrels to create rich color and bold flavor. Also known as black rum, it goes great in a rum and coke, with ginger beer or in dark ‘n’ stormy cocktails. This versatile spirit is also often used for rum punch at parties.
Many popular dark rums come from the Caribbean and include Myers’s Original Dark Rum, Diplomático Seleccion de Familia and Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum.
One of the most popular black rums in today’s market is Cruzan Black Strap Rum. Its deep black color is the result of adding blackstrap molasses to the spirit.
Other black rums have a few drops of caramel coloring added to them after distillation. However, some purists believe that the dark rum coloring should come only from prolonged barrel aging.
3. Gold Rum
Also known as pale rum, amber or golden rum is medium-bodied. Amber rum has a deeper color than light rum because it’s usually aged longer for longer in wooden barrels.
Golden rums are generally slightly smoother than dark or white rum. They taste sweeter than light rums, and may have hints of vanilla, molasses, cocoa, banana, and butterscotch.
Types of golden rums include Diplomatico Ambassador Selection Cask Strength Venezuelan Rum, Kirk and Sweeney XO Dominican Rum, Mount Gay Eclipse and Don Q Gold.
4. Navy Rum
Navy Rum (or navy strength rum) is rum which takes its name from the rum rations allocated to the sailors on Royal Navy ships from 1850 to 1970! The United States Navy also had a rum ration until 1862.
This type of rum is usually between 54-57% ABV (alcohol by volume). It is perfect for adding to tiki drinks, since it will not be diluted with other ingredients.
Among the most popular navy rums are Lamb’s Navy Rum, Pusser’s ‘Gunpowder Proof’ and Black Tot Last Consignment Royal Navy Rum.
5. Rhum Agricole
Made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses, rhum agricole comes from the French Caribbean islands. It’s also produced in Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, in Thailand, Mauritius and Australia.
In Martinique, rhum agricole that meets certain standards can call itself appellation d’origine contrôlée (French protected designation of origin) “AOC Martinique Rhum Agricole.
Sugarcane stalks are cut and pressed to extract the juice. Distillers often let the spirit rest in casks for an extended amount of time, which gives it a smooth character and flavor.
Rhum agricole has a more fruity and earthy flavor than molasses-based rum, giving it more character and backbone.
Rhum agricole must have a minimum level of 40% ABV (80 proof) after distillation. There are several brands of rhum agricole, such as Clément VSOP Rhum Vieux Agricole, Neisson L’Esprit Blanc Rhum Agricole and Rhum J.M 10 Year.
6. Overproof Rum
Alcohol that’s overproof has an ABV (alcohol by volume) over 50%. Generally speaking, most overproof rums are used in mixed drinks where they provide extra kick. A popular way to drink overproof rum is over ice because the high alcohol content causes rapid cooling to lips and tongue.
Because overproof spirits are generally over 50% ABV, they’re flammable and should be kept away from open flames or any combustible material. Overproof rum is used in many drinks like the Flaming Dr. Pepper (made with cola), Zombie and Singapore Sling.
Popular brands of overproof rum include Hamilton 151 Overproof Demerara Rum, Worthy Park Rum-Bar White Overproof Rum and Lemon Hart Rum 151.
7. Premium Aged Rums
Premium rum is generally aged in oak barrels for several years, which gives it a more intense flavor than regular rum. Also known as aged or mature rum, it is a little more expensive than other types of rum due to the lengthier production process.
Mature (or aged) rum can be consumed straight up or on ice and for that reason is also known as sipping rum. This luxury rum does not usually mix well because it has a strong and distinctive flavor. It is smooth enough to drink without any mixer.
One of the best sipping rums is Don Papa Rum. This is also one of the most popular rum brands from the Philippines. Don Papa 10 is aged for 10 years in bourbon barrels which are then recharred. This gives a bold flavor of cacao and dried fruit to the rum.
Other popular aged rums include Zafra Master Series 30 Year Old Panama Rum, Ron Zacapa Centenario XO, Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Cubaney Centenario, El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve and Mount Gay Extra Old.
The ageing process for premium rums is from 2 years or more in wooden barrels. This process determines the colour and flavour of the drink.
8. Single Vintage Rums
Not to be confused with aged rums, these rare rums are bottled from specific production years. An example of a single vintage rum is Diplomatico Single Vintage Rum 2005.
This exclusive rum is aged for 12 years in bourbon and whisky casks before being transferred to Oloroso sherry barrels. It has notes of tobacco, vanilla and oak.
9. Spiced Rum
Spiced rum is dark amber in color and has a spiced flavor. Rum and spices such as caramel and vanilla are infused together in an alcohol base. Botanicals and fruits such as orange may sometimes be included.
Also known as flavored rum, this type of rum is very popular mixed in cocktails and punch, and is usually sweet. I like spiced rum when I’m baking cookies or cakes, adding it to apple cider for hot toddies or making spiced rum balls.
Some good spiced rums include Sailor Jerry, Cruzan Mango Rum and Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum.
What Is the Best Rum for Cocktails?
Rum has been an extremely popular cocktail ingredient since the spirit’s popularity began to rise in the 1920s. Mixing rums are often lighter than other kinds of rum and don’t tend to be aged for a very long time.
Here are some of the most popular rum brands for making cocktails:
Bacardi – operates out of Hamilton, Bermuda and remains a family-owned private business. This popular liquor brand offers superior white rum, gold rum, dark rums and some delicious flavored rums.
Captain Morgan – rum produced in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with a range including spiced gold rum, dark and white rum and tiki mango and pineapple rum.
Cruzan Rum – also based in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cruzan is owned by Beam Suntory. The brand was founded in 1760 and now makes a wide range of flavored rums as well as more traditional rums.
Malibu – a coconut flavored rum liqueur from Barbados.
Types of rum cocktails: Piña Colada, Mai Tai, Rum Punch, Cuba Libre, Dark & Stormy, Mojito, Daiquiri, Egg Nog and Long Island Iced Tea.
What Recipes Can You Use Rum In?
Rum is often used in dessert recipes but rum flambéed dishes such as Bananas Foster are probably the most popular ones.
Some other popular rum food recipes are: rum baba, coconut rum cake, rum raisin ice cream and rum truffles.
In Conclusion: Different Types of Rum
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, from the different types of rum to how they taste and what you can do with them. Hopefully now you have a better understanding of which type is best for your needs.
We encourage you to experiment with various styles of rum until you find something that works well for your sipping or cocktail-making experience. After all, variety is the spice of life!
One thing remains certain – as long as it’s made from sugar cane juice (or molasses), it will be delicious no matter what type of rum it is! So go ahead and take our advice about experimenting with rums today by trying a new one right now. It may just change your whole perspective on drinking rum altogether.
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