As someone who has been creating home-crafted beverages for over 10 years, I’ve come to learn a lot about specific liquors. Rum is a single type of liquor, but there are many different types of rum available in your local liquor store! Different kinds of rum varies from distiller to distiller, so there is definitely no shortage of choice. In this post, we’ll take a look at all the varieties of rum that are available to you!
Unlike other liquors such as whisky or tequila, the rum-making process is fairly unregulated. This means that there are really no “standards” of production or necessary regulations in place for producers. Because of this, each rum maker can create their product based on their specifications. This means you can easily find quality rum without excessive price tags! Unfortunately, it also means that it can be difficult to sift through all the choices available to you in your local liquor store. This guide is here to help you make sense of it all!
- 🤔 what is rum?
- 🗺️ where is rum made?
- ⚗️ the distillation process
- 🔴 light rum (aka white rum, clear rum, or silver rum)
- 🟠 gold rum (aka amber rum)
- 🟡 aged rum
- 🟢 agricole rum (agricole rhum)
- 🔵 dark rum (aka black rum)
- 🟣 rum-based liqueurs and cordials
- ⚫️ spiced rum
- ⚪️ overproof and navy strength rum
- 💰average cost of rum
- 🛍️ recommended brands of rum
- how to store rum
- 🧯alcohol safety & responsible drinking
🤔 what is rum?
🍬 sugarcane byproduct. Rum is made from sugarcane, molasses, or a combination of both. Some rums are made strictly from sugarcane juice, others are made only with molasses.
🛢️ distilled & fermented. The molasses or sugarcane is distilled and fermented, making it into an alcoholic liquor. During the fermentation process, microorganisms like yeast or bacteria convert sugars into alcohol.
👅 varies in taste. From the grassy and vegetal notes of agricole rum to the bold and robust flavors of dark rum, there is a rum for every palate and occasion.
🗺️ where is rum made?
Rum is probably most notably paired with tropical climates and tiki cocktails. It is famously produced in many tropical regions in the Carribbean, from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic to Jamaica. But it’s also made in South America and even some regions in the United States. Each region has its own unique style and flavor profiles, meaning there’s a lot of variation out there!
⚗️ the distillation process
While the actual distilling method varies among producers, the general distillation process remains similar. Sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses or sugarcane juice, are used in the fermentation and distillation processes.
Sugarcane juice or molasses is fermented with yeast, converting the sugars into alcohol. This fermented liquid, known as a "wash," is then distilled to separate alcohol from impurities. Then, the resulting distillate is then either placed into bottles as is, has flavoring added, or is allowed to mature, either in oak barrels, copper stills, or stainless steel tanks.
🔴 light rum (aka white rum, clear rum, or silver rum)
What it is: Light rum is clear in color. It is the most common and versatile type of rum. Think of it as the vodka of the rum world! It is sometimes called white rum or clear rum, so there is no difference between silver rum vs. white rum; they’re the same!
What it tastes like: Light rum has a light-bodied and crisp taste. It is known for its subtle flavors and versatility. The taste can vary depending on the brand and production process, but light rum generally has a smooth and clean profile with notes of sweetness and hints of tropical fruit.
🟠 gold rum (aka amber rum)
What it is: Gold rum is sometimes called amber rum. It's made by aging silver rum for a short period of time, usually 1-3 years.
What it tastes like: Gold rum is robust in flavor, but slightly deeper than the bright notes you'll taste in silver rum. This is due to the aging process, which takes place in wooden barrels.
Popular drinks made with it: Cuba Libre, Rum Toddy, or Rum Punch.
🟡 aged rum
What it is: Aged rum is a type of rum that has been aged in barrels for an extended period, allowing it to develop complex flavors and smoothness compared to lighter rums. It can range in color from amber to dark brown.
What it tastes like: Aged rum is known for its smoothness and complex flavors. It can include hints of oak, vanilla, and tropical fruits. The taste profile varies depending on the aging process and the specific brand.
Popular drinks made with it: Rum Old Fashioned or elevated classic cocktails like a Cuba Libre.
🟢 agricole rum (agricole rhum)
What it is: agricole rum (also known as rhum agricole) is a type of rum that is made from freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. It is mainly produced in the French-speaking Caribbean islands, such as Martinique and Guadeloupe.
What it tastes like: Agricole rhum has a distinct and robust flavor profile. It is known for its grassy, vegetal notes, which come from the sugar cane juice. Agricole rum often has a more pronounced and earthy flavor compared to other types of rum.
What it's distilled from: Agricole rum is distilled directly from freshly pressed sugarcane juice. This gives it a unique character and contributes to its vibrant and aromatic qualities.
Popular drinks made with it: Tropical tiki drinks like the Ti' Punch and the Mai Tai.
🔵 dark rum (aka black rum)
What it is: Dark rum has a rich, dark color and a fuller-bodied taste compared to light rum. Oftentimes, it has added flavors like caramel and molasses and added coloring, making it higher in sugar content. Sometimes it is also called “Black Rum.”
What it tastes like: Dark rum has a more full-bodied taste, often with notes of caramel, molasses, and spices. It is usually slightly sweeter in flavor compared to light rum.
What it's distilled from: Dark rum is typically distilled from molasses, a thick, dark syrup that is a byproduct of sugarcane processing. The molasses gives dark rum its distinct flavor.
Popular drinks made with it: Mai Tai and the Dark 'n' Stormy. Often, you will see it served as a “floater” on beverages like the Piña Colada.
🟣 rum-based liqueurs and cordials
What it is: Rum-based liqueurs and cordials are made by infusing or blending rum with different flavorings and ingredients. They are known for their sweet and sometimes creamy profiles, which make them popular choices for cocktails and mixed drinks, especially shooter-style drinks or dessert martinis.
What they're distilled from or made with: Rum-based liqueurs and cordials are typically made by combining rum with other spirits, such as brandy or vodka, and infusing them with fruits, herbs, spices, or other natural ingredients. Common flavors include coffee, chocolate, fruit, and herbs.
Popular drinks made with it: White Russian, Espresso Martini, Malibu Bay Breeze, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shots.
⚫️ spiced rum
What it is: Spiced rum is infused with a variety of spices and flavors. It is known for its warm and aromatic characteristics, making it a popular choice for cocktails and mixed drinks.
What it tastes like: It typically has notes of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices, which give it a rich and flavorful taste. These flavors can come from an infusion process or artificial flavoring.
What it's distilled from: Spiced rum is made by infusing regular rum with a blend of spices and flavorings. The exact combination of spices can vary depending on the brand and recipe. Common spices used in spiced rum include cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and vanilla. The rum is typically aged in wooden barrels for a period of time to allow the flavors to meld together before being bottled.
Popular drinks made with it: Hot Buttered Rum, Spiced Rum Hot Cocoa, Spiced Rum & Coke
⚪️ overproof and navy strength rum
What it is: Overproof and Navy-Strength rums are types of rum that have a higher alcohol content compared to regular rum. They typically has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 57% or higher, although the exact ABV may vary between different brands and regions.
What it tastes like: Overproof rum is known for its intense and robust flavor profile. It often has bold and powerful notes of molasses, caramel, tropical fruits, and spices. The higher alcohol content can also contribute to a warm and lingering sensation on the palate.
What it's distilled from: Overproof rum is usually distilled from molasses, a byproduct of sugarcane processing. The molasses is fermented and then distilled to create a potent spirit. Some overproof rums may also be distilled from sugarcane juice, similar to agricole rum.
Popular drinks made with it: Mai Tai, a Zombie, or a Rum Punch. It's also often used as a floater in other drinks.
💰average cost of rum
The cost of rum can vary depending on factors such as the brand, type, and aging process. On average, a bottle of rum can range from $10 to $50, with premium and aged rums being more expensive ($80 - $100+++).
🛍️ recommended brands of rum
The world of rum goes beyond pirate captains and sea-creatures. 😬 Sure, tropical branding is fun and eveyone loves visualizing a vacation on a bottle. But, if your liquor store has more than a few brands of rum things can get hazy, quick. Of course, the best brand of rum is the one YOU like. Some popular and quality rum brands include:
- Appleton Estate
- El Dorado
- Havana Club
- Planteray Rum (formerly Plantation Rum)
how to store rum
To maintain the quality of rum, it is important to store it properly. Keep the bottle tightly sealed and store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. Rum does not require refrigeration, but storing it in a consistent environment will help preserve its flavor and aroma.
🧯alcohol safety & responsible drinking
Alcohol is a highly regulated substance because of its mild-altering capabilities. Therefore, it's important to understand your own personal relationship and limitations relating to alcohol use and consumption.
- Always adhere to legal drinking ages and adhere to local alcohol laws. In the United States, the legal age for consuming alcohol is 21 years old.
- Consume alcohol in moderation. On average, that means one alcoholic beverage per hour while also consuming a glass of water per alcoholic beverage.