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9 Different Types of Rum: The Best Rums To (Finally) Start Your Home Bar

There are at least nine different types of rum, and each one has its distinct flavour profile – so where do you start if you want to start a home bar and want to show off your cocktail skills?

Think of rum as the start of an excellent adventure. 

Rum is a spirit that has long been associated with the tropics and pirates, and nowadays it’s also known for its wide range of flavours. Rum can take you to warm balmy evenings in the Caribbean – even if you are sipping on a rainy day in the UK. 

Rum can be neat, works well in cocktails, or even an essential ingredient in cooking and baking. 

If you want to get started with rum or learn more about it, do not worry: We have you covered with this easy guide that breaks down all the types of rum (white rum, golden rum, dark rum…) and how to drink them.

9 Different TYPES OF RUM

What are the main types of rum?

The two basic rum types are light and dark rum. White rums are are styles aged in stainless steel tanks for about one year. While, dark rums are aged in oak barrels and can aged in bourbon barrels or oak barrels. Here are nine different types of rum for you to explore.

White rums

White rum is a light-bodied, slightly sweet, and dry-tasting white rum. It is typically clear to pale gold in color and has a subtle aroma that is hard to pin down—it could be floral or fruity; it could be neutral.

Light rums are usually distilled in continuous stills and then charcoal filtered, which gives them their neutral taste. Light rums may also be aged for no more than one year in stainless steel tanks or charred white oak barrels to add smoothness.

Because of its delicate flavour and versatility, light rum such as Diplomatico Planas Rum from Venezuela is the choice for mixed drinks such as tall rum coolers or Daiquiris. 

Here are some tips for enjoying white rum:

  • Try it in a Mojito. This cocktail is made with white rum and lime juice, as well as mint leaves and sugar syrup (a mixture of water and granulated sugar). Try substituting other citrus juices—like orange or grapefruit—to give your Mojito an extra kick!
  • Use it in any tropical drink recipe calling for coconut water or pineapple juice instead of soda water or flavored soda pop—that way you’ll be able to taste all the different ingredients instead of having them overpowered by the fizzy sweetness from a carbonated drink.

Gold rums

If you are in the mood for something smooth and tasty, but do not want to break the bank, try a gold rum. These medium-bodied types of rum are white rums aged in oak barrels to give them a golden or light brown colour, making them perfect for both making cocktails or just sipping on the rocks.

Gold rums can age for one to three years (and even up to twelve years) in these barrels, some in ex-bourbon casks. 

The result is a smooth, spicy flavour with vanilla notes from the oak. Sometimes these rums are enhanced by additional caramel colouring.

One of the oldest producers, Mount Gay, puts out a fine gold rum from Barbados, Jamaica’s Appleton Estate Special is another good choice.

One note about gold rum: you may see it listed on menus as “light rum” or “white rum”—these are all the same thing. The only difference between them is how long they’ve been aged; white rums typically have been aged less than one year while light and golds have been aged for years longer.

So what does this all mean for your cocktail? Well, if you a’re looking for a more robust flavour, the best rum to go for is the darker rum. But if you want something lighter with a little more sweetness, then the best rum is the lighter rum.

Dark rum

Dark rum is a little bit like the dark side of the Force: it’s strong, it’s bold, and it’s got a lot of character.

Dark rums are made in traditional pot stills, which means they’re robust and full-bodied with a molasses character —and then they’re refined further through blending with a lighter, continuous-still spirit. The dark rums are then aged for anywhere from three to twelve years (most for five to seven years) in well-charred oak barrels.

The result is a dark rum that has the perfect balance of sweetness and spice.

And while dark rum is delicious to sip on its own, they shine when mixed with other liquors in cocktails.

Dark rum cocktails

Appleton Estate’s Original Dark from Jamaica or Martinique rums, for example, add intense rich molasses flavors to rum cocktails. These rum brands are best used to enhance the lighter rums in more fruity drinks. For real dark rum fans, you can not beat the traditional Jamaican cocktail Dark and Stormy, made with ginger beer.

If you find yourself in Martinique, you should try a bottle of Saint James – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Spiced or flavoured rums

Growing in popularity, spiced or flavoured rums can be made from a base of white, gold, or dark rum, infused with citrus flavours (think orange or lime), vanilla, coconut, pineapple, and various other fruits. 

Spiced rum is sold as rum liqueurs, bottled rum ounces, and rum infusions and brings a new dimension of flavour to the classic rum drinks such as Daiquiri and Mojitos.

Of course, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum is an old favourite—great for hot rum drinks. Malibu Rum is worth trying out if you’re looking for a good-quality coconut-flavoured spirit. The perfect rum for Pina Colada. 

Navy rums

Rum experts usually agree that navy rum is a blend of aged rums from two or more of the following Caribbean countries: Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad. 

Some add that it should include rum from the Port Mourant double wooden pot still in Guyana, known for its earthy flavour profile.

Most agree that this style of rum was created by sailors stationed in the Caribbean who were looking for something stronger than what they were used to drinking back home. The result was a heavy-bodied spirit with a lot of flavour—perfect for mixing cocktails on long voyages at sea! 

Overproof rums

If you’re looking for a stiff drink, overproof rum is your best bet.

Stronger than Navy rums, overproof rums have an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 50% or higher. These are typically used to add an extra kick to mixed drinks and are often served with ice for rapid cooling to the lips and tongue. Bacardi 151 is a good example of an overproof rum. 

The most common way to drink overproof rum is with ice—just pour it into your glass and enjoy—but there are other ways to enjoy these potent spirits. 

Overproof rums add alcohol content for “one-per-customer-only” bar drinks such as the Zombie. And add the drama for flaming drinks. (Advisable to leave this one to the professional bar people). 

Aged, Vieux, or Anejo Rums

As you explore aged rum, keep in mind that the term refers to a rum that has spent time maturing in oak barrels – it’s not only about the colour of the rum. 

They are aged up to 6 years in barrel and are to be enjoyed as a sipping drink, much like a Cognac. 

Unlike dark rums, the flavours are not added but derive from the long aging process.

While some rums are aged for just a few years, aged rums can spend decades developing their complex flavours. Some premium aged rums are blends of rums aged in different barrels to create a richer and more flavourful taste.

Some drinkers prefer the purer taste of an unflavoured white or clear rum, but when it comes to premium aged spirits, much like bourbon or Scotch whisky, the bestsellers tend to be aged rums because of those complex flavours from ageing. 

They are rare and often very expensive. 

different types of rum
Enjoy the different types of rum at VIDA

Rhum Agricole

Rhum Agricole is from sugarcane juice, usually in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti and other French Caribbean islands. The French-speaking Caribbean makes rum from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. The base ingredient distinguishes it from the molasses rums in the West Indies part of the Caribbean. 

They are a lighter style in colour and flavours. You can sip Rhum Agricole like you would any other rum on its own or mix it into cocktails like the Ti’ Punch or Daiquiri.

Vintage Rums

If you want a rum for a special occasion, break open the vintage rums: Aged in oak barrels—just like whiskey and wine. But since most rum distillers do not sell their products directly to consumers, it is hard to find them outside their home countries. And even then, they can be expensive: If you want to taste this kind of liquor, you may have to shell out at least £100 per bottle, if not more. 

But we think they are worth it! There is nothing quite like drinking the oldest rum available in the world. It is a great way to experience what rum was like decades ago (or longer) when it was not blended with other ingredients and had nowhere near as much sugar added as some brands.

Rum is a fantastically diverse spirit, and it deserves to be centre stage in your home bar.

Whether you drink it straight up, in cocktails, or as part of rum punches, rum is the ultimate for your home bar. It works for sipping and mixing. 

Rum also has a long history of being used in cooking and baking. The flavour profile of rum can pair well with almost anything from chocolate to bananas, making it an excellent addition to desserts. 

The VIDA take on the different types of rum: 

There is plenty to explore about rum, and our post is only the beginning of the different types of rum in the world. If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating spirit, check out our other posts on rum up-coming. There are so many types of rums with a fascinating tale to tell.

Three rums to try at VIDA:

White Rum

Diplomático Planas Rum

Aged Rum

Ron Abuelo 7 Anos Rum

Spiced Rum

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum

Discover more different types of rum and cane spirits with VIDA Wines & Spirits.

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