Guide to Rum

Possessing a long history that is shrowded in stories of piracy, slavery, and colonisation, rum is one of the oldest and most interesting of distilled spirits enjoyed by those who have a sweeter tooth or like drinks with a rich depth of flavour.

Before delving into the wonderful world of rum, let us first consider all that you need to know about this fascinating drop.

What is Rum?

Rum is an alcoholic beverage created by distilling either sugar cane juice or molasses (a syrupy like product made by refining sugarcane into sugar) in a process that produces a clear, white liquid.

Rum Production Process

The resulting clear spirit can then either be bottled as is without ageing or with minimal ageing, producing familiar products such as the Bacardi Carta Blanca Superior White Rum, or it can be aged in wooden barrels for any number of years to create a darker, richer product like the incredibly flavoured Bundaberg Master Distillers Small Batch Vintage Barrel Rum.

Unlike whisky, rum has few laws regulating its production, creating a melting pot of diversity in flavour, colour, and production processes that means understanding this category can often appear very difficult.

How to Classify Rum

Lack of regulations aside, there are a number of simple classifications that can be placed upon the various styles of rum that exist which go a long way towards directing your drinking experience.

The simplest methods of classifying rum are achieved through consideration of its country of origin or its colour, further explored in this article and below.

Rum by Country of Origin

When looking at the country of origin, those prominently mentioned are the former colonies of Spain, England, and France.

When grouped together, the former colonies of each European nation have flavour profiles that are distinguishable from each other, making it possible to look at the country of origin when trying to figure out how the resulting rum will taste, explored further in this article also.

Rum by Colour

Turning to colour, rum is best separated upon whether its silver or white, golden, or dark or black, as each colour affects the flavours that can be expected to be found in each bottle.

Flavours of Rum

Rum Flavour Wheel

When looking to pick out some of the prominent flavours found in any bottle of rum consumed it is often best to select from one of the following categories or types found in this flavour wheel, including vegetal, sweets, citrus, fruits, spices, and wood.

For a description of these, consider below.

Vegetal A vegetal taste in rum typically shows itself through a distinctly earthy or plant-like taste that can often be sweet. For a close comparison, try freshly pressed sugar cane juice
Sweets A sweet taste in rum can manifest itself through types of chocolate, including milk, dark or white chocolate to types of sweeteners or flavourings, including honey, sugar, or caramel
Citrus Though a type of fruit, citrus is displayed on its own here as it is most commonly strongest in white rums and is not to be confused with other dried or fresh fruit flavours that can be found in other rum
Fruits Fruit flavours in rum can appear as either dried or fresh fruits, particularly oranges, tropical fruits, raisins, or other common dried fruits, such as apricots
Spices Spice flavours in rum present themselves as either hot, sweet or herbal spices, including mint, thyme, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, or cayenne, to name a few
Wood Wood tastes in rum refers to the distinctly ashy or oaky flavours imparted often from oak ageing, including charcoal smoke, wood, or even cigarette or cigar smoke
White Rum

White Rum

By far the most readily available and versatile style of rum on the market, white rums are commonly used in a number of popular cocktails. To find out how best to serve them and what food to match them with, be sure to consider our comprehensive guide to white rum.

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Golden & Spiced Rum

Golden & Spiced Rum

Golden rums, often sometimes sweetly spiced to add enticing complexity, is an enduring favourite of almost all bars and bottle shops. Discover more about how they’re best enjoyed and how to match them with food in our complete guide to golden and spiced rum.

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Dark & Black Rum

Dark & Black Rum

Often misunderstood for aged and far pricier rums, dark and black rum is a richly flavoured drinking experience. Although often enjoyable on their own, find out other ways of enjoying these rums and how to pair them with food in our guide to dark and black rum.

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