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The 7 Types of Rum That Every Guy Should Know


Rum is a spirit made by fermenting and then distilling sugarcane juice or molasses. The final product is clear, sugary sweet, and just at the beginning of its journey. It can be bottled right away, spiced, or matured in oak barrels for a few months or years.

While there are a few random offshoots, the most well-known rum types are white rum, gold rum, dark rum, spiced rum, navy strength rum, overproof rum, and rhum Agricole.

Like with other matured spirits, aging imparts various aromas and flavors. You’ll find notes of molasses, butterscotch, dried fruits, tropical fruits, oak, and gentle spices. While you’ll find similarities to bourbon and other whiskeys, a long-aged, high-quality rum most resembles the characteristics of a well-made Cognac. Fruit, caramel, oak–what’s not to love?

Plantation 3 Stars
White Rum

A clear bottle of white rum means the spirit was either bottled right away, rested in steel tanks before being bottled, or it went through charcoal filtering to remove the color after aging in barrel. There’s a wide range of flavors in white rums that’s largely dependent on the base ingredient and how it was made. Some are closer to a lightly sweet vodka, others have intense grassy or molasses or fruity notes. White rum is most often used for mixing into cocktails.

White rums worth seeking out:
  • Plantation 3 Stars
  • Diplomatico Planas
  • Don Q Cristal
Gold Rum

This style is so named because of its gold color. It gets its color from being lightly matured in oak barrels. These bottles typically have light, subtle flavors of vanilla, caramel, oak, and fruit. It’s a great budget rum for mixing if you’re looking for something with some wood notes.

Gold rums worth seeking out:
  • Don Q Gold Rum
  • Bacardi Gold
  • Flor de Caña 4 Añejo Oro
Papas Pila Dark Rum
Dark Rum

This is the rum section for whiskey fans. Dark rum is matured in charred oak barrels for months or years (sometimes decades). The charred wood imparts various flavors and aromas like butterscotch, vanilla, caramel, dried fruits, and gentle spices. This is a great choice for sipping neat, on the rocks or used as the base of a rum version of a classic whiskey cocktail.

Dark rums worth seeking out:
  • Diplomatico Rum Reserva
  • Papas Pila Dark Rum
  • Appleton Estate 12 Year Old
Boukman Botanical Rhum
Spiced Rum

As the name suggests, spiced rum is a type of rum that is infused with various herbs, spices, and fruits. Similar to making gin, which ingredients are used is up to each distillery. Some common spiced rum ingredients include cinnamon, clove, cassia, vanilla beans, dried fruit, citrus peels, pepper, allspice, and ginger. These rums typically have a sweet, spiced flavor profile that’s great for giving your favorite cocktail a spicy, flavorful kick.

Spiced rums worth seeking out:
  • Bumbu The Original Rum
  • Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum
  • Boukman Botanical Rhum
Pussers Rum Gunpowder Proof
Navy Strength Rum

Navy strength isn’t solely a term used to describe rum, it’s also used for gin as well. The name comes from the high-proof rums that were given out to British sailors as their daily ration before the practice was outlawed in 1970. Their spirits rations, the story goes, had to be strong enough that if they spilled on the gunpowder, the alcohol was high enough that it would still light. Now, brands that use this term are usually referring to rums with an alcohol content of either 54 or 57 percent ABV. It’s not a rum for drinking neat, but it is worth having on hand for bold, high-proof cocktails.

Navy strength rums worth seeking out:
  • Pusser's Rum Gunpowder Proof
  • Black Tot Finest Caribbean Rum
Plantation O.F.T.D.
Overproof Rum

Similar to navy strength rum, overproof rums are high-octane and potent. Overproof is a little less defined, however. Whereas the percentage of a navy strength rum was dictated by what the British Navy thought it could still light on fire, overproof rums are any rum that’s above 50 percent ABV. It’s strong and called for primarily in tiki drinks, though there are more gentle overproof rums that play better with various ingredients.

Overproof rums worth seeking out:
  • Plantation O.F.T.D.
  • Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
  • Privateer Navy Yard Rum
Rhum J.M. VSOP
Rhum Agricole

Rhum agricole is a French term that translated to “agricultural rum.” It’s made in places like the French West Indies, Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. Rhum agricole refers to rum made from sugarcane juice instead of molasses. This gives these rums an earthy, funky, grassy base along with classic rum flavors like vanilla, caramel, and tropical fruits.

Rhum agricole bottles worth seeking out:
  • Rhum Clément Agricole Blanc
  • Rhum J.M. VSOP
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