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What is Rum and How Many Types of Rum Are There?

Rum is an eclectic and versatile spirit that is created from sugar cane and has been around for nearly 500 years. Rum is largely sourced and made in the Caribbean and parts of South America, but as its popularity grows, so too do its producers. Today, there are rums produced in North America and Europe, though the vast majority still comes from the Caribbean. 

Rum is created through a process of distillation, which can be described as a combination of science and art. Distillation allows the liquid to heat, separate the alcohols and eventually vaporize to form what we know to be as rum. Now, of course there are many different types of rum from white rum to dark rum, to overproof rum and flavored rum but for now, we will focus mostly on white and dark rum. 

Three glasses of rum: light, gold, and aged.

IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.thespruceeats.com/popular-brands-of-rum-759209 

RUM TYPE WHITE/LIGHT RUM DARK RUM
PRODUCTION & AGING PROCESS White rum, like dark rum, is produced from sugar cane but it is filtered using charcoal, which removes color and impurities from the liquor. It is lightly aged in steel caskets and in some cases, not aged at all!  Dark rum is distilled through a pot or column still but is not filtered and generally aged in oak caskets for long periods of time.  
FLAVOR PROFILES Jasmine, Honeysuckle, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut.  Cinnamon, Black Cherry, Caramel, clove.
POPULAR BRANDS The Real McCoy, Ten To One, Probitas, Plantation Goslings, Diplomatico, Flor De Cana, Ron Zacapa 23
POPULAR COCKTAILS Hemingway Daiquiri, Piña Colada, Coconut Mojito, Cajun Lemonade Mai Tai, Dark & Stormy, Caribbean Coffee, Spiced Old Fashioned

 

Understanding Rum Production

It’s important to note that while white and dark rum look and taste very different, they’re both derived from sugarcane and molasses. Rum is created with a handful of steps and stages. 

  • First, there is the harvesting phase where the sugarcane is harvested and the juice is extracted. 
  • Then comes fermentation, where the sugarcane juice or molasses converts sugars into alcohol. 
  • Following this is distillation, which is a significant and signature part of the rum-making process. During distillation, the fermented liquid separates the alcohol from the other components. This can be done in pot stills, column stills or a combination of both. It’s important to note that white rum is also filtered with coal at an early phase to remove any additional elements, keeping it lighter in color and taste. 
  • Then comes the aging process, which is largely which separates white rum from dark rum. White rum is aged for shorter periods of time – 1 year, 3 years … or sometimes not at all! While dark rum can be aged anywhere from 3 years all the way up to 20 (and more)! This maturation process is responsible for the rich and more intense flavor and coloring you’ll find in dark rum versus white rum, which holds more of an airy, delicate taste.

The Chemistry Behind the Rum We Love So Much [Infographic ...

SOURCE: https://images.app.goo.gl/2fZSjHEmUz1Y67Sg9 

WHITE RUM VS. DARK RUM: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TASTING NOTES? 

WHITE RUM

Because white rum is aged for a shorter time (and sometimes not at all for some brands like Ten To One), the tasting notes will differ greatly from dark rum. 

  • With white rum, the typical tasting notes will be more reminiscent of tropical fruits. You may notice hints of coconut or banana. 
  • You might also notice a honey flavor, or vanilla. 
  • Generally, it is known to be more floral and lighter in taste while dark rums contain flavor notes like dark cherry, clove, cinnamon or black peppercorn. 

DARK RUM

The taste difference between dark and white rum is usually pretty clear as dark rums tend to feel more bold and pungent while white rums are more effervescent and delicate. Why is this the case? 

  • It comes down to filtration and aging. As white rum is lightly aged (or sometimes not at all), the elements and ingredients don’t sit in distillation as long, compounding certain flavors. 
  • When it comes to dark rum vs white rum it’s also important to note that white rums are filtered with charcoal, which removes color and impurities from the spirit, resulting in the lighter rum. 

POPULAR COCKTAILS THAT USE WHITE RUM

  • Strawberry Daiquiri 
  • Piña Colada
  • Mojito

POPULAR COCKTAILS THAT USE DARK RUM

  • Painkiller
  • Mai Tai 
  • Dark & Stormy

COMMON USES FOR WHITE AND DARK RUMS

White and dark rums are distinct in so many ways: taste differences, how they’re aged and what they’re best paired with. While both derive from sugar cane, their tasting notes, potency and purposes can differ greatly. Whether you are planning to use rum for a recipe or a refreshing cocktail, it’s important to understand the differences before proceeding. 

  • When it comes to cocktails, white rums are better suited for your Piña Coladas, your Daiquiris and mojitos. White rum has a subtle and sweeter base that complement the fruity flavors these beverages naturally offer. 
  • As for cooking contributions, white rums, given their subtlety, are best used for creamy or fruity desserts or even a seafood marinade, but the bulk of the recipes that use rum call for a dark rum. 
  • With dark rum’s complexity and robust flavoring, it’s quite versatile in the cooking space. From rum cakes to cinnamon French toast to pork tenderloins, dark rum has potential to elevate many different meals. Check out some amazing recipes here! 

(Cinnamon French Toast cooked with dark rum)

SOURCE: https://www.liquor.com/articles/cooking-with-rum/?utm_source=emailshare&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons 

BEST WHITE RUMS TO ENJOY

For the rum lovers and the “rum-curious” crowd, there are a handful of excellent premium options out there that all serve a different purpose and palate! 

Best White Rum For Daiquiris

If you are looking to make an unforgettable Daiquiri (Strawberry, Classic, Hemingway, etc.) we’d recommend going with Ten To One, a top-shelf producer that combines flavors and ingredients from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. It contains notes of jasmine, honeysuckle and lemongrass. 

The Perfect Daiquiri

SOURCE: https://www.tentoonerum.com/cocktails/the-perfect-daiquiri/ 

Best White Rum for Piña Coladas

Whether you’re set to enjoy a Piña Colada on a beach in the Bahamas or at your best friend’s pool party, one way to make this classic cocktail even more irresistible is by using Plantation 3 Stars, a premium rum rooted in Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica that’s known for their aromatic flavors and signature tasting notes. According to liquor.com, its hints of chocolate, root beer and even toasted biscuits complement the pineapple and coconut flavors in the Colada. erick casto pina colada

SOURCE: https://punchdrink.com/recipes/erick-castros-pina-colada/ 

 

Best White Rum For Mojitos

The mojito is a classic rum cocktail that is both robust and refreshing. Though it has only a few ingredients, its signature taste is loved by many and is best achieved by using a white rum like Havana Club Añejo Blanco. This rum recipe dates back to 1934 and is aged twice before bottled. It’s known for its complex notes of vanilla and oak and also works well as a sipping rom or Daiquiri base. 

PHOTO SOURCE

BUY] Havana Club Anejo Blanco Puerto Rican Rum at CaskCartel.com

SOURCE: https://havana-club.com/en-gb/cocktail/mojito/ 

Best White Rum For Sipping 

If you prefer to drink your rum neat or on ice, we recommend Denizen Aged White Rum. The rum is matured three years, longer than the average white rum, making it a prime choice for sipping. 

SOURCE

BEST DARK RUMS TO ENJOY

With flavors that can be described as bold and robust, dark rums offer a full-bodied experience for cocktail and liquor lovers alike.

Best Dark Rum For Mai Tais

With aromatic notes of spice, molasses and banana, Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum is an excellent base for Mai Tais. This Jamaican blend can be described as earthy and complex, enhancing the eclectic tastes that the Mai Tai offers. 

SOURCE: https://www.tommacy.com/maitai 

Best Dark Rum For Painkillers

For those who don’t know, the Painkiller is loosely known as the Piña Colada’s more subtle cousin, as it is more fragrant with the addition of fresh orange juice and nutmeg. It is recommended to craft this cocktail using Pusser’s Rum, which is produced in the British Virgin Islands and has a long history of being the rum of choice for the British Royal Navy. It is high proof and easy to enjoy. 

PHOTO SOURCE

SOURCE: https://pussersrum.com/blogs/cocktails/pussers-painkiller 

Best Dark Rum to Make a Dark & Stormy

The Dark & Stormy is essentially a mule but with a dark rum as its base. It is a layered and almost sultry drink that is ambitious in flavor and dynamic by nature. For this cocktail, we recommend using Goslings Black Seal Rum, a company founded in Bermuda in 1806 by James Gosling. The rum, mixed with ginger beer and lime, creates a cocktail fit for any season or occasion. 

PHOTO SOURCE: https://aem.lcbo.com/content/dam/lcbo/Recipes/lcbo/2020/april/L202004002.jpg 

To sum it all up … both dark rum and white rum serve their purpose and can be used to create vibrant and delicious cocktails, and in some cases, meals! Now, it’s important to remember that in general, white or light rum will be much more subtle and aromatic in taste while dark rums will be heavier and more seasoned in taste, with notes of cinnamon, banana and chocolate to observe. The difference in taste is due largely to the aging process. White rum is generally aged no more than 3 years (and sometimes not at all) while dark rums can be aged up to 20 years! 

Again, each rum and each rum brand serves a purpose and provides an excellent base for specific drinks. Experimenting and enjoying these rums is the best way to learn your own preferences! 

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