Whether you are sipping it chilled or blending it into a cocktail, rum is a tasty and soul warming liquor.

rum on ice with a lime

What is rum?

Rum is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. After it is distilled, it is aged in oak barrels for 3-10 years which give it a brownish hue. The amount of time and climate will play a role in the final color too.

The most common brands are Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Appleton and Mount Gay with production taking place in the Caribbean, Americas, Philippines and India.

The alcohol by volume is 40-80% making it 80-150 proof. It is one of the oldest known alcohols, dating back to the mid-1700s.

It is most common in mixed drinks, but also used in baking like cakes and rum balls.

The most popular rum cocktails are:

  • Rum & Coke
  • Pina Colada
  • Mai Tai
  • Hurricane
  • Daiquiri
  • Long Island Iced Tea

What Does Rum Taste Like?

It is made from sugars, so it tastes like toasted sugar… and oak.

However, each brand and geographic location has a distinct flavor. There are 7 major types of rum and then several offshoots, especially specialty flavored rums.

Experts rate rum on smoothness, richness, smokiness, drinkability and overall flavor.


The 7 major styles of rum include:

  1. Light
  2. Gold
  3. Dark
  4. Spiced
  5. Flavored
  6. Location Specific
  7. Overproof

Light Rum

Light-bodied rum, also known as white or silver, is the most commonly used variety. As the name suggests, it has a mild, clean flavor with a sweet aftertaste making it perfect for fruity cocktails and frozen drinks.

It is aged in steel instead of wood, so it lacks the character from barrels and also the darker color.

Gold Rum

Medium-bodied rum, also known as amber, are rich and complex in flavor. They are smooth and known for being a sipper or more flavorful substitute for light rum or step down from spiced rum.

Aged Rum

As the name suggests, it is aged longer than light or gold rum which results in a louder flavor and hue. They are in wood casks for a longer time and therefore pick up more of the oaky notes. Most dark rums are also aged rums. These might be more expensive because they take longer to produce.

Dark Rum

Dark rum, also known as heavy bodied, have a much stronger flavor with a bit of a bite. But be careful because that complexity is easily covered up in things like rum punch. Being stored for longer periods in a charred cask it what sets them apart.

Blackstrap is a type of dark rum that is known as the port or cordial of the rum world. They are made from dark molasses so they are thick and rich in flavor.

Spiced Rum

Aged for the same amount of time as dark rum, this has spices and caramel added to give it a warm feeling that will hit you in the pit of your stomach.

Flavored Rum

Flavored rum, like coconut, is made by adding spices and/or aromatics during distillation. Spiced rum technically falls into this category too, but most people think of natural flavors (that are usually added unnaturally) like strawberry or mango.

Location Specific

This just references rums that have special attributes based on geographic location. Brazilian cachaça and Rhum Agricole from Martinique are examples of this category.

Overproof Rum

Overproof or high-proof rum with 75% percent alcohol by volume (150 to 151 proof). This makes it very potent and also usable for flaming drinks and popular as a floater in frozen drinks. It will make you pucker a little.

Rum Cocktails:

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