Rum vs Vodka: What’s the Difference? (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Popular alcoholic beverages such as rum and vodka are great drinks but have different flavors. Vodka’s lack of flavor may not be pleasant for a new drinker, and the sweetness of rum can be overwhelming.  

Let us learn more about rum vs vodka’s differences in taste, color, production process, and price points.

Vodka & Rum Compared

Vodka Brands

Rum and vodka are both distilled spirits, but are different in some ways. Vodka comes from the Slavic word, “Voda,” meaning water. Vodka is made from potatoes and grains mixed with alcohol or ethanol. Before it can be considered vodka, it needs to have at least 37.5% alcohol content. 

On the other hand, rum is from fermented sugar cane and molasses. The Caribbean Islands produce the best varieties of these drinks. The sweet savor is because of the primary ingredient, molasses. Original vodka lacks this element, but some varieties contain herbs to enhance its flavor. 

A Closer Look At Their Differences

A Closer Look At Their Differences


Rum production is said to originate from Barbados in the mid-1600s. It was called “kill-devil or Rumbullion.” However, in 1667, it was finally called rum. It was said that this alcoholic beverage got its name from the Dutch word “Roemer,” which means “large glass.”

Vodka has existed since the 8th or 9th century, but it is unsure whether it began in Russia or Poland. This alcoholic beverage was already available in Russia in the 14th century, according to stories. 

Main Ingredients

sugarcane plant

The main ingredient of rum is sugarcane. Everything about rums derives from sugarcane juice, molasses [1], white or brown sugar, and other by-products. It contributes greatly to the aroma and taste of rum. 

On the other hand, vodka is made from potatoes. The lack of extraordinary taste in this product is because of its main ingredient. However, most makers of these spirits choose to add flavorings. There are also vodka varieties that use cereals and grains, similar to brandy. 

Preparation Process

Unlike other drinks, bar rum begins with the extraction of sugarcane juice. The juice is then cooked and turned into molasses. Molasses is then added with yeast and water to start fermentation. 

Distillation follows inside stainless steel tanks where fermented rum is stored. It will be heated and condensed before it will continue to the aging process. After a specified aging period, blending follows for a flavored rum.

Vodka is processed almost the same. Potatoes, grains, and beets are the common source of vodka. It goes through fermentation and then distillation afterward. These are also stored in stainless steel tanks, but it does not require aging.


A glass of rum

The color of a rum depends on its flavor profile. Those that pass through the aging process acquire a darker brown color. The influence of the wooden oak barrels will show in every bottle. However, you will also find white rums filtered to remove impurities and achieve that specific color. 

Original vodka only has one color, and that is clear as water. It normally is double distilled to reach a clear state. But to strengthen the alcohol flavor, manufacturers distill it some more until they get that good savor. Also, some vodkas bear the color of their special flavor.


Rum is made of sugarcane that is why it has a better flavor. However, it is enjoyed as an alcoholic drink and as an ingredient for cooking. Good light rum is perfect for dishes with poultry and seafood contents. Darker rums fit for proteins such as beef stew. 

On the other hand, vodka is also a common ingredient in complex dishes. Since it does not have a strong flavor, you won’t worry about it overpowering the natural savor unless you pour a lot. Also, it can act as an emulsifier that can enhance the dishes’ taste and consistency.

Taste & Flavor Notes

Malibu mango

Between rum vs vodka, taste and flavor automatically go to rum. Since molasses is its source, it has a natural sweetness. This type of liquor is popular with new drinkers as these are easier to swallow than other mixed drinks. There are also flavored types, orange, mango, banana, and lime.

Vodka is rarely aged. It makes its savor strong and very straightforward. However, there are herbs and fruit-infused vodka. It gives the once tasteless drink notes of fruits and tang of herbage. Blood orange, cranberry, cucumber, grapefruit, and ginger zest are just a few flavors infused in vodka. 

Read: Bacardi Gold & Superior Rum Comparison

Alcohol By Volume Level

Rum holds a minimum of 35.5% alcohol level, which goes up to 80%, depending on the number of distilled times. A typical rum distillation is once, but darker spirits go through the pot stills twice to increase its alcohol content. Afterward, it needs to be aged to refine and develop a more sophisticated taste.

Vodka goes through a different phase. Some are from grains, while others are from potatoes. However, they go through distillation more than once. Alcohol content can be 80 proof but can go as high as 95 vodka proof. Popular brands often distill their vodkas to raise their alcohol content. 

Difficulty in Making Cocktails

Vodka Sunrise cocktail

Rum is not a difficult spirit to mix in cocktails. It is also the same with vodka. These two are the most popular ones when it comes to mixed drinks. 

However, vodka is preferred more if you make cocktails that require a stronger kick. This fermented spirit can provide that necessary strength in a drink, plus it is clear and almost flavorless.

A typical rum has color, but this spirit also has varieties filtered with carbon that ends up clear and white. White rum is usually paired with soda, the same way you use gin. 

Price & Value

Another main difference between rum vs vodka is their price and value. Rum’s production is not as complicated as others, but an alcoholic drink kept in oak casks costs is higher. A budget rum is roughly $11 to $18. A standard bottle of rum ranges from $20 to $29. The premium bottle of rum costs around $30 to $38 in a bar or liquor store.

Vodka, on the other hand, requires fewer processes after fermentation. Also, its ingredients are fairly easy to use and do not require aging at the same time. A bottle of budget vodka ranges from $7 to $19. Standard vodka is roughly $20 to $27, while premium vodka is around $29 to $740. 

Calorific Content


Considering that the ingredients of these drinks are sugarcane, wheat, grains, and potatoes, we are still bound to see calories in them. However, the two have one of the lowest-calorie content at 231 calories in every 100 grams. 

Beer and tequila have lower calories than these two, at 43 and 69, respectively. You can drink any liquor daily, as long as it is minimal. 


Is rum more fattening than vodka?

Rum is not more fattening than vodka since the two have the same calorie content. The two belong to the usual liquor picks for those who are watching their weight. However, drinking alcohol with a better flavor makes it easier, making rum an easy choice.

What’s healthier, rum or vodka?

Rum is not healthier than vodka or the other way around. There is no edge between Rum vs Vodka because the two have the same calorie content. However, vodka is more potent, but you are still on the safe side if you drink it in moderation. 

In Summary

In summary, rum comes from sugarcane juice and molasses, while vodka is from wheat and potatoes. Rum has a sweet taste and aroma, while vodka will only be a flavored wine once you infuse fruit or other additives. 

Mixed drinks like Martinis are perfect with vodka. But the sweetness of gold rum, dark rum, and light rums makes tropical drinks and cocktails more flavorful. Others prefer the sweet-spiky taste of rum vodka. Therefore, regardless of the difference between the two, it all ends with the drinker’s taste buds.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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