White Rum vs Dark Rum: Main Difference (2023 UPDATED)

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 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.

Dark or White: 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.

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.



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.

One thought on “White Rum vs Dark Rum: Main Difference (2023 UPDATED)

  • May 20, 2023 10:09 am at 10:09 am

    Thanks, Lydia! Very informative for those of us who are just learning to mix drinks, and probably for those more seasoned mixologists as well!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *