Often found blended into daiquiris or stirred into mojitos, rum is a popular liquor for cocktails, although it can also be served neat or on the rocks. Because of its versatile nature, rum is a staple in any well-stocked home bar. But what exactly is rum, and what types of rum are out there? Keep reading to learn more about this time-tested favorite.
With a versatile, sweet taste, rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane, occurring naturally in pure cane sugar, syrup, molasses, honey and other sources. Most rum is produced using column stills, in which the molasses or cane juice becomes fermented and distilled. Rum is then aged in casks or bourbon barrels for a specific period of time, depending on the climate where the rum is produced. While rums made with molasses have sweet, banana and tropical notes, sugar-cane-juice-based rums have distinct vegetal notes.
Styles of Rum
With roots in the Caribbean, rum is distilled primarily in sugar-cane-producing countries, including those in North and South America, India, the Philippines and Australia. Based on the region, this liquor is produced using differing methods, blending styles and aging techniques. Here are the most popular styles of rum:
- Light Rum – Also called white or silver rum, light rum is clear and usually has a mild, light-bodied flavor. These types of rum are perfect for daiquiris, mojitos and piña coladas.
- Gold Rum – Medium-bodied, gold rum is amber or golden in color and features a more flavorful profile than light rums, as varieties are typically aged several years. Enjoy gold rum on the rocks or neat, or use them in cocktail recipes that require a bold flavor, like the classic Mai Tai.
- Aged Rum – While these styles of rum are similar in color and body to gold rum, they receive their golden hue from the barrels they’re aged in. Aged rums have distinctive, complex flavor profiles, making them perfect for enjoying on the rocks.
- Dark Rum – Heavy-bodied, rich and sweet, dark rums are often aged in charred oak casks. Dark rums, or black rums, can be used in tiki cocktails, such as the hurricane, or sipped neat.