Are you a rum enthusiast, or do you want to be? If so, knowing the different types of rum available is crucial.
There’s light and dark, spiced and aged, flavored and plain, and everything in between.
Obviously, rum has a wide variety of styles to suit every palate.
Each type of rum has unique characteristics, flavors, and production methods. These things distinguish one from the others.
Let’s closely examine the various types of rum. We’ll cover their origins, flavors, and how they’re made.
So sit back, and let’s get ready to rum-ble!
1. Gold Rum
Gold rum, also known as amber rum, is one of my favorites.
It sits somewhere between light and dark rum in terms of color and flavor.
It’s known for its smooth and mellow taste, with hints of caramel, toffee, and vanilla.
Its golden color comes from the barrel aging process.
During that process, it sits in charred oak barrels, absorbing their flavors and colors.
The aging process also gives it a richer and more complex taste than light rum.
You can enjoy it neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a delicious cocktail.
It’s also an excellent substitute for white rum in most drinks.
2. Black Rum
Black rum is a bold and intense spirit that packs a powerful punch.
However, it’s only considered a medium-body rum. It’s definitely a rum with an interesting history.
Black rum first popped up shortly after the Prohibition era.
And as the name implies, it’s the darkest-colored rum.
Manufacturers thought its dark color would trick people into thinking it was well-aged.
(And thus, richer and more full-bodied than it actually is.)
It still has a wonderful and complex taste, though. It features notes of chocolate, coffee, and molasses and is pretty potent.
It’s the key ingredient to the popular dark and stormy cocktail. It’s also relatively smooth when enjoyed neat.
3. Spiced Rum
Spiced rum is a warm and comforting spirit perfect for chilly evenings.
It’s infused with a blend of spices, including vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
As a result, it’s positively bursting with flavor and aroma.
Spiced rum is often used as a base for holiday cocktails like eggnog or hot toddies.
However, you can also enjoy it on its own or with a splash of cola.
The spices give it a unique and yummy taste that’ll satisfy even the most discerning palates.
4. Dark Rum
A step down in color from black rum, dark rum is rich and complex. It’s perfect for those who love bold and intense flavors.
This type of rum is typically aged in charred oak casks for longer periods than other rums.
That gives it its deep, dark color and distinct taste.
However, some dark rums aren’t as old as they seem.
Instead, as is true with black rum, they’re colored with dark ingredients to make them look older.
Most dark rum varieties feature notes of molasses, caramel, and oak.
They’re often key ingredients in cocktails like the zombie or mai tai.
5. White Rum
Aged for only about a year, white rum is light and refreshing.
It often appears in the ingredient lists for sweet, fruity, and tropical summer drinks.
It’s a clear and colorless rum made from sugarcane juice or molasses.
It typically has a mild and crisp taste with citrus, tropical fruits, and vanilla notes.
Besides using it in popular drinks like mojitos and daiquiris, you can also mix it with soda or fruit juice.
It’s an easy rum to enjoy and perfect for drinkers who don’t like a heavy alcohol taste.
6. Aged Rum
The name of this rum tells you everything you need to know.
Specifically, it’s aged for extended periods, often in oak barrels for a rich, woodsy flavor.
It’s a smooth and sophisticated spirit that’s perfect for sipping.
It’s often expensive and hard to find (because of how long it takes to make). Therefore, most people don’t add it to cocktails.
Instead, they enjoy it neat or on the rocks to fully experience its complexity.
It also makes a good stand-in for bourbon.
7. Navy Rum
Unfortunately, navy rum has been out of production for several decades.
That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally find a rare and very expensive bottle for sale somewhere.
Also known as rum tot, navy rum was historically issued to British sailors.
It’s full-bodied and intense, with a rich and complex flavor profile.
It’s spicy and smoky, perfect for those who enjoy bold and robust rums.
8. Overproof Rum
If you’ve ever tried Bacardi 151 or Diamond 151, you’ve had overproof rum.
Defined as any rum with more than 57.15% ABV, overproof rum packs a heck of a punch.
It also has an exciting history linking it to the British Navy. Sailors would add the rum to gunpowder and light it.
If it ignited, it was typical rum. If it exploded, it was overproof rum.
It’s typically far too strong to enjoy by itself. However, it makes an excellent addition to cocktails and some desserts.
9. English-Style Rum
Hundreds of years ago, English-style rum was the earliest colonial rum.
It was distilled in pot stills, giving it a bolder flavor that went beyond molasses.
Today, English-style rum is made using the column distilling method.
It still features its sweet, robust flavor with notes of toffee, caramel, and spice.
10. Spanish-Style Rum
You might not realize it, but if you’re a rum drinker, you’ve almost certainly had Spanish-style rum.
Don’t believe me? Just think about the last time you had Bacardi.
Spanish-style rum comes from a different distilling process than English-style rum.
While it also uses column distilling, it adds a charcoal filtering process.
Occasionally, Spanish rum undergoes a different distilling process altogether. It’s called the Solera barrel aging system.
Despite the distilling method, Spanish-style rums are soft, sweet, and smooth.
They taste great in cocktails or enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
11. Flavored Rum
Flavored rum can be a mix of any other rums on this list.
It can be Spanish-style dark rum or English-style white rum. Basically, it’s any rum with flavoring additives.
The most popular additives include banana, pineapple, coconut, and apple.
Most people add flavored rums to sweet or fruity cocktails.
They also taste good straight from the shot glass or added to dessert recipes.
12. French-Style Rum
French-style rum differs from English- and Spanish-style rum in one distinct way. Almost all French rum tastes the same.
The French put strict guidelines on how rum must be produced.
They must be made from sugar cane and undergo column distilling.
This leaves little room for flavor variations between brands. They taste grassy, vegetal, and not very sweet.
Cocktails are the best way to enjoy French rum.
13. Rhum Agricole
Rhum agricole is actually a type of French rum. So, why is it in a category of its own?
Simple. It’s made only of pressed cane sugar.
Other rum varieties often come from fermented cane sugar juice or other byproducts.
Its flavor, therefore, is like French rum but even grassier and more vegetal.
It’s not the type of rum most people enjoy drinking by itself. It makes an interesting and complex cocktail base, though.
14. Single Vintage Rum
Designated as an “ultra-premium rum,” single vintage rum isn’t inexpensive.
It’s a rare and special type of rum that’s difficult to find.
Aged for extended periods, this type of rum offers a unique and intricate flavor profile.
That profile is shaped by that particular year’s weather and soil conditions.
It’s a must-try for any rum connoisseur seeking a truly unforgettable experience.
But don’t expect to purchase it for that $20 bucks you have in your pocket.
Let’s finish up with cachaca, the rum that’s not really rum.
I’ve included it here because many think of it as rum. However, it’s really in a category of its own.
Made from sugarcane juice, this Brazilian spirit offers a distinctive taste. It’s somewhat similar to Rhum Agricole.
It features citrus, grass, and spice notes and is a popular choice for Brazilian cocktails. (The caipirinha and the batida, especially.)
Some people still call it a rum, and initially, the U.S. categorized it that way, too.
Let’s all just agree from now on to simply call it cachaca for accuracy’s sake.
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