An Enthusiast’s Guide To Rum Types

Rum’s place in American drinking history predates the country’s founding. Rum was essential in Colonial times, both for trading and for getting drunk. When the country was young, whiskey hadn’t yet made its mark. Rum, hard cider, and imports remained.

Producers use classic rum-making procedures and a variety of mixing and aging techniques to make rum today. Given its global impact, it’s crucial to understand rum, how it’s created, and the numerous varieties available.

How Is Rum Made?

Rum is a beverage produced from sugarcane byproducts, usually juice, syrup, or molasses. After Christopher Columbus introduced sugar cane to the Caribbean, slaves consumed most of the molasses. Even then, they didn’t know what to do with all the garbage until someone suggested making alcohol.

Modern rum is generally manufactured by fermenting sugar cane juice, yielding a concentrated syrup, or fermenting molasses. Climate and soil affect the final rum taste, therefore rum made from Barbados molasses will taste different from rum made from Dominican molasses, even if distilled at the same site and using the same procedure. Most rum distillers utilize molasses, but not all are equal.

Distilleries have a few fermentation options. If they use natural fermentation, sugar will sit in open vats while air yeasts transform it into alcohol. Larger organizations often utilize pre-determined yeast strains to regulate the fermentation process.

Distillers have a low-alcohol product after fermentation (sometimes called the low wines). It’s not rum yet, but it will be after distillation, which separates alcohols from fermenting liquid.

Fermentation and distillation aren’t the only rum-making variables.

Copper or steel continuous or pot stills are used for distillation. These are the two primary types of stills. Distillers can utilize one or both types. Depending on the kind of rum, it may be distilled twice, increasing the alcohol. As with every other distillation step, this option will alter the rum’s taste.

Rum-making factors don’t end there. aging follows distillation (or the lack thereof). Distillers might release unaged products or age them in barrels (sometimes as little as a few weeks and sometimes as much as twenty or thirty years).

Various Rums

These are best kinds of rum you will get in the market:


You recognize it from mojitos, swizzles, and other umbrella beverages. White, light, or silver rums have the mildest flavor and are matured for three to six months in tropical climes or up to a year in colder areas. Unlike other rums, white variants are distilled in stainless steel barrels, thus they give the simplest rum experience.

Gold, Aged

Both varieties of rum appear similar, so it’s crucial to know which one you’re purchasing. An aged rum will have a golden or amber tint from its barrels. There are aged dark rums also. Gold rum can be aged, although its color is generally added.

Expert says caramel is commonly added to aged rums to “correct” the color and deepen it, giving the rum an older aspect. “Other old rums are charcoal-filtered to eliminate color and bottled clear.”

Aged rum has a deeper flavor, whereas gold rum is smoother and has more to offer than white rum.


Don’t forget molasses. Now things grow heavier. Dark rums are usually double-distilled and most closely resemble Scotch or brandy. Blackstrap rum is a rich rum with complex aromas. No of the quality of your black rum, sip it like whisky.


Adding spices or tropical ingredients like coconuts to rums manufactured from molasses or sugarcane syrup has become fashionable. The taste may boost the sweetness or add spice and depth to the rum.


Only in the French Caribbean is Rhum Agricole prepared from sugar cane juice, not molasses. Rhum production has the tightest standards, down to distillation time, making it the most consistent form. Rhum’s sugar cane sweetness is robust, but it also has a lovely grassiness.


Feeling warm? Overproof or high-proof rum ranges from 50 to 75.5% ABV, depending on national requirements. Don’t fire. Don’t cook with. No “GO” Overproof rums can be used in cocktails if the ABV is low. As ABV rises, use less rum.

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