Liquor Laboratory

White Rum vs Dark Rum: Main Difference (2024 UPDATED)

White rum vs Dark Rum

Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Lydia Martin

We all have our preferences when it comes to liquor. While some like it clear, others prefer colored. When it comes to rums, we’ve noticed that most people we’ve talked to have strong opinions over white rum vs dark rum.

So, what exactly is the difference? Let’s dive in.

White Rum vs Dark Rum: Which is a Better Rum?

It depends If you want to sip or drink something more distinct in flavor, because if that’s the case, then dark rum may be better than white rum.

White Rum

But if you want a lighter flavor and serve cocktails like Pina Coladas, Mojitos, or any rum-based tropical drinks, we suggest you use white rum. 

What is White Rum?

White rum, also called light rum or silver rum, is an alcoholic beverage often used in several cocktail recipes.

Diplomatico White rum

White rum is popular in mixed drinks because of its milder flavor instead of drinking it straight. White rums are aged in big stainless barrels and are filtered after aging to protect their white tint and remove any color that may affect their white color.

What is Dark Rum?

Dark rum, also referred to as red or black rum, is darker in color and bolder in flavor. Dark rums are most commonly used in cooking as it adds more flavor to most recipes.

Captain Morgan dark rum

They are aged for long in heavy burnt barrels such as charred oak barrels or wooden barrels. The longer the rum is aged, the darker its color gets. They have spices mixed with strong underlying molasses, burnt sugar, and overtones caramel flavor.  

Some of the most notable dark rums are kill devil and el dorado, both known for their rich flavor. But, what does rum taste like?

Comparison Chart

Comparison Chart

Parameters of Comparison White Rum Dark Rum
Aging Period Short period Longer period
Production Process Filtered right after they age Adds a pinch of spices like molasses and caramel to achieve a darker color
Barrel Type Stainless steel barrels Charred Oak Barrels, Wooden casks
Flavor & Taste Sweet taste, milder , light flavor Fuller taste, strong flavor
Usage Used in cocktails, mixed drinks Used in cooking, drinking straight
Color Clear, light color Dark color

How Do They Differ?

How Do They Differ?

Base Constituent

Most brands of white rum are produced in Spanish-speaking countries but are known in Puerto Rico.

The main ingredients that they use are sugarcane juice and molasses.

On the other hand, dark rum is popular in British territories such as Bermuda, Jamaica, etc. These countries use notes of caramel, spices, molasses making this variety stand out from the rest.


White rum is clear in color, and to obtain such color, some producers like to take an aged rum then run it through charcoal filtration to remove some colors.

On the other hand, as the name implies, dark rum is darker in color as it is mixed with caramel, the reason behind its discoloration.

Read: Bacardi Gold Rum & Superior Comparison

Aging Period

One main difference between white rum and dark rum is their aging process. The product of these processes, a clear liquid, is then stored in barrels.

Oak barrels for rum

The aging process of white rums is shorter than dark rums because dark rum is aged for a longer period in heavy burnt barrels, while white rums are filtered right after they age. Age statements are untrustworthy as no booze is bonded and supervised.

Production Process

White rum is filtered and distilled right after they are aged to obtain a white tint, and the filtration process helps unwanted flavors that may come along for the ride. 

Meanwhile, dark rums are made from caramel, and some even add some caramel coloring to give them a stronger look and flavor.

Barrel Type

Both white rum and dark rum need to be in a barrel. White rum has to be aged in stainless steel tanks to mellow the taste, while dark rum needs to be aged in heavily charred oak barrels or wooden casks to remove the harsh taste from the raw alcohol. 

Flavor & Taste

White rum has a light-bodied variant with a sweet, soft taste. Molasses or sugarcane juice has a big contribution to its sweetness. 

Flor de Caña rum with glass and cigar

Dark rum has a more distinct taste. It is bolder in flavor as it has tinges of spices with strong molasses and burnt sugar giving it a darker color and deep, smoky-sweet flavor.

Read: Must-Try Dark Liquors


If you plan to have cocktail nights with your friends or family, you should use white rum. As said, white rum is sweet, which makes it perfect for blending in any liquor. 

On the other hand, dark rum is mainly used for cooking because it usually compliments the other flavors in your recipe. 


Is white rum healthier than dark rum?

Neither is healthier. These spirits are best avoided for consumption purposes as they are reasonably high in calories. But with moderate consumption, can lessen your chance of getting type 2 diabetes, and it surprisingly enhances mental health and can reduce anxiety. But, how much rum will it take to get you drunk?

Can I substitute white rum for dark rum?

Yes, you can substitute white rum for dark rum, but you may get a stronger flavor than expected and certainly a different color in the final dish. You just have to be careful about which brand you will be choosing because some brands have more alcohol content than others.

Is white rum better than dark rum?

The preference for white or dark rum is subjective and depends on personal taste and the intended use. White rum is typically lighter and more neutral, suitable for cocktails, while dark rum has a richer, molasses-forward flavor, often enjoyed neat or in more complex cocktails.

Is Captain Morgan a dark rum?

Yes, Captain Morgan is primarily known as a dark or spiced rum. It has a distinctive flavor profile with spices and is often used in various cocktails.

Is white or dark rum better for rum and coke?

The choice between white and dark rum for a rum and coke depends on personal preference. White rum provides a cleaner and more neutral flavor, allowing the cola to shine. Dark rum, with its richer and spicier notes, can add depth to the drink.

Which rum is sweetest?

Flavored and spiced rums are often sweeter due to added sugars and spices. Coconut rum, for example, tends to be sweet. However, sweetness can vary among brands and types, so it’s advisable to check specific labels.

Which type of rum is best?

The “best” type of rum depends on individual preferences and the desired use. White rum is versatile for cocktails, while dark rum may be favored for sipping or crafting complex drinks. High-quality rums often come down to personal taste.

Why is white rum better than dark rum?

The statement depends on personal preferences and the context of use. White rum is preferred in certain cocktails for its neutrality, allowing other ingredients to stand out. It’s often lighter and less intense than dark rum, making it suitable for various mixed drinks.

Why is white rum so good?

White rum’s popularity stems from its versatility and clean flavor profile. Its neutral taste makes it an excellent base for a wide range of cocktails, allowing other ingredients to shine. The lack of strong flavors in white rum makes it a versatile and refreshing option.

What is dark rum called?

Dark rum is sometimes referred to as “black rum.” It gets its dark color and rich flavor from extended aging in barrels and often has notes of molasses.

Can you substitute white rum for dark rum?

Substituting white rum for dark rum in cocktails can be done, but it may alter the drink’s flavor profile. White rum lacks the rich, caramelized notes found in dark rum. Adjustments may be needed to balance the flavors.

What is considered a dark rum?

Dark rum is characterized by its darker color, which comes from aging in charred barrels. It often has a fuller body and richer, molasses-forward flavor compared to lighter rums.

What soda is best with white rum?

White rum pairs well with various sodas, with cola being a classic choice. Other options include lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, or even coconut water, depending on the desired flavor profile.

Which is better, Bacardi or Captain Morgan?

The preference between Bacardi and Captain Morgan depends on individual taste. Bacardi is known for its white rum, suitable for a variety of cocktails. Captain Morgan, a spiced and dark rum, has a distinct flavor with added spices, making it a preferred choice for certain cocktails and mixed drinks.

Final Thoughts

White rums and dark rums are some of the world’s most famous distilled alcoholic drinks. Light rums are rarely drunk straight and are most likely to be used for making classic rum cocktails, while black rum or gold rum is usually drunk straight and is used for cooking or baking together with whiskey.

They are made from sugarcane (1) and are prepared through distillation and fermentation. Rum is aged for it to have the maximum flavor and taste.

We should all know that the color of the rum will not always indicate its flavor profile. It must go through aging in a barrel, taking on different flavor profiles.


  1. Agricultural and Biological Science
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