Rum is one of the most famous drinks in the world. Its strength and flavor clearly distinguish it from other spirits, alongside its versatility for mixed drinks. But as with all spirits, there are several kinds of rum. There is White Rum, Dark Rum, and Golden Rum, which are the most common, but there’s also Aged Rum. Rum is an alcoholic beverage obtained through the fermentation and subsequent distillation of sugar cane. Subsequently, the liquid is aged in oak barrels, and depending on the time it spends in the vats, it becomes white rum or golden rum. There are also other variants such as black rum or premium rums, which are often aged.
A bit of rum history
This drink is first mentioned in Barbadian documents in 1650, and was called Kill-devil or Rumbullion. In the French colonies, it was known as Guildive or Tafia. By the year 1667 it began to be popularized as Rum, a term derived from the Spanish word Ron (which in Arabic means "Root").
The precursors of rum come from a relatively recent era, though it’s believed that the development of fermented drinks from sugar cane occurred in ancient Greece. The first distillation of rum was carried out in the sugar cane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th century; the slaves of the plantations were the first to discover this product.
Rum producing countries
This drink reaches up to 80% alcohol through distillation, but this is lowered by adding purified water. The rum of each producing country has distinct qualities, and there is no consensus on what the rum “standard” should be. That is why there is so much variety and styles of rum in the world.
In general, Spanish-speaking countries produce dry, light-bodied rum, similar to brandy; while English and French speaking countries produce fuller-bodied and spicy rums.
Major Rum Producing Countries:
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
- France (especially in its Caribbean islands)
How many types of rum are there?
Its name tells us about the transparent or colorless color of this type of rum. These are the lightest and smoothest rums, even though they have the same alcohol content as the rest. This type of rum has the most neutral flavor. In some American countries white rum can be divided into light white rum and extra light white rum. The transparent color is due to the fact that it has not spent much time in oak barrels, which is what gives color with aging.
Also called Ron Añejo, Ron Gold, Ron Rubio, or Ron Ambré. Of an unmistakably golden or amber color, the aging period is longer than for white rum, hence the different names. This is a sweeter rum that has more flavor, which is due to the higher amount of glucose it usually has. Some kind of caramel or artificial coloring are added to some of these golden rums. Making a blended rum is not uncommon.
Black Rum or Dark Rum
This type of rum is the next level of quality. Just as the golden rum is aged in barrels for several years, this type is aged in charred oak barrels that gives it an even darker color. They have a lot of body and flavor. Their sweet flavor makes them ideal for gastronomy and making desserts.
Premium Rum or Gran Reserva Rum
This variety is the highest quality rum of all. It is a long-aged rum. Of course, several years are spent aging in barrels and the usual practice is to mix the liquid from different barrels to gain more complexity in the finished beverage. The aging can reach up to 50 years and these aged rums are the highest quality references among brands. One of the most famous and best rums in the world is the mythical Ron Zacapa XO.
Spiced Rum or Flavored Rum
There is a wide variety of spiced rum. They are achieved by adding or infusing different spices that give them distinct flavors and tones in the mouth. Some common additions are vanilla seeds, cinnamon, anise, pepper, ginger root or cloves. It is also common to add fruit juice such as mango, coconut, banana, or pineapple.
Here’s some options for Aged Rum from your liquor store California:
- Koloa Gold Rum from Hawaii
- Foursquare "Sovereignty" Single Blended Rum from Barbados
- Ron Zacapa Solera 23 Rum from Guatemala
Did you enjoy learning about rum basics? Check out our other informative blogs on wines and spirits!
By Charlie Leary