Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Rum’s first literary mention dates back to thousands of years ago. Although the first commercial distillation of sugarcane was in the 17th century, enthusiasts believe that rum is the oldest spirit in human history.
It went through different modifications and created varieties from the oldest version. But in the modern day, what does rum taste like?
Rum: How It Tastes
Rum often has a sweet taste, though it is not always guaranteed. There are varieties available worldwide with different tasting notes. Some types of rum are sweet, earthy, grassy, or funky.
It all comes down to the process involved during fermentation and distillation. Light rum has a neutral character. The oak has more time to impart its flavor to the spirit in darker-colored rum.
Overproof and flavored are the types that did not meet the strict guidelines of the United States. Let us further elaborate on the variations below.
10 Popular Varieties & What They Taste Like
1. White Rum
White rum has the most basic characteristic of a rum. It is almost stripped-down of any tasting notes, similar to a slightly sweet vodka. The aging process took at least a year using steel casks, and it has a very dry finish. It is a popular mix on a cocktail like a mojito .
Aguardiente or firewater is Columbia’s top alcoholic drink. This type of rum has a dominant taste of sweet anise–a flavoring agent very similar to black licorice. The nose has hints of black pepper and vegetable, while the palate has a creamy and light feel to the mouth.
3. Rhum Agricole
The distillation of Rhum Agricole took place in French-speaking Caribbean communities. It uses freshly-pressed sugarcane juice, unlike the usual molasses. The process gave it a vegetable-like and grassy flavor profile, as it tried to maintain the original taste of the sugarcane.
4. Gold/Pale Rum
It has a sweet and oaky taste, combined with hints of vanilla and toffee. The character of this rum makes it a good mix of cocktails with stronger flavors.
The gold rum took three to five years of aging, providing the amber color of the liquor. But some distilleries use caramel to give a golden color to their spirit.
5. Black Rum
Black rum has the richest and most heavily bodied among other rums. It used a heavily charred or fired oak for aging, imparting its smoky flavor. Cakes and desserts take advantage of the sweet and spicy notes of black rum in their baking process.
6. Dark Rum
This type of rum went through aging for about three to five years. It derives most caramel, chocolate, and dried fruits from the charred oak barrel. It also has a smoky sweetness and full-bodied texture. Furthermore, the molasses and oak gave dark color to the spirit.
Read: Dark Rum vs White Rum
7. Traditional Jamaican Rum
The traditional Jamaican has a rich sweetness that comes from molasses. This kind of rum has provided spiced woody and smoky flavors for centuries. It also features a strong taste of tropical fruits, making it an ideal variety for a summer getaway to beaches.
8. Overproof Rum
A rum distilled for over 100 proof or over 50% ABV is called overproof rum. It has a high alcohol content that will give a burning effect to the mouth. It is hard to notice the flavors because of alcohol, but it gives hints of fruity flavors like bananas, pears, and pineapples.
9. Premium Aged Rum
A longer aging process allows the oak to influence much of the spirit’s quality. The tasting notes for this type of rum can be as complicated as whiskey but still provide a smooth and rich spirit. It also contains well-blended flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and dried fruits. What’s the real difference between whiskey and rum?
10. Flavored & Spiced Rum
The rum is considered flavored due to its low alcohol content, usually below 40%. The fruity flavors are the most dominant taste, like coconut, citrus, mango, and orange.
On the other hand, spiced rum is simply a white rum with added Caribbean spices. It has tasting notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper.
Also Read: How Much Rum Does It Take To Get You Drunk?
What You’ll Taste When You Take A Sip
The Sweet Side
Most rums use fermented crystallized sugarcane or molasses, but it does not guarantee a sweet taste to the spirit. A small to zero percentage of sugar can survive the distillation process. That’s why modern distillers learned their techniques of adding sugar after.
The process of adding sugar does not apply to Jamaican rum.
The Ohio Side
There used to be a time when distillers from Ohio would buy molasses from the Caribbean to produce their rum. Nowadays, they use sugarcane from Louisiana, which gives a spicy and earthy flavor. There is also a list of fruity notes on the Ohio side, like pineapple and other citrus fruits.
The Fresh-Pressed Side
Rhum Agricole differs from most rum when it comes to its process. It uses pressed sugarcane juice instead of crystallized sugar. The process produces the spirit’s purest form of vegetal and grassy undertones.
What does rum taste like? Some aficionados describe the fresh-pressed as the most authentic taste of a rum .
The Funky Side
Jamaican rum does not have additives like sugar, but it has a longer fermentation. The process allows Jamaican rum to have a higher concentration of esters, making it the funkiest among other rum.
Esters are the components that give aroma and flavors to the rum. It has rotting fruits or vegetables, methane gas, and other chemicals.
Which variety is the best tasting rum?
The best-tasting variety of rum is the Premium-aged rum. It has a well-blended flavor and a full-bodied texture. But, does rum ever go bad?
Is rum sweeter than vodka?
Yes, rum is sweeter than vodka. It is often an additional ingredient to baking, candy-making, and cooking. Vodka, on the other hand, is usually flavorless.
Rum is a distilled liquor made from molasses and sugarcane juice. It varies by the aging process, place of production, and ingredients used. Light, gold, dark, black, and premium aged are titles according to the aging process. So, what does rum taste like?
Light rum tastes almost similar to vodka. And the darker colors have an earthier and smokier taste. The Jamaican rum uses sugarcane juice, making it funkier than other types. Overproof has a high alcohol content, while flavored rum has more dominant fruity notes.