Styles of Rum
Rum is usually derived from molasses, a byproduct of the industrial process that converts cane into sugar. Molasses is fermented and the liquid distilled into rum, which is typically aged in old whiskey barrels.
There are light rums and dark rums, spiced rums and purely sipping rums. Each of the rum-producing islands in the Caribbean has a well-established style. In Puerto Rico, for example, the style is light and crystal clear. Jamaica, on the other hand, produces dark, rich rums.
Rum is a terrific base for creating exotic, colorful cocktails. Some are as simple as mixing cola and rum with a splash of lime juice (the Cuba Libre), others are more complicated concoctions, involving several fruit juices and more than one kind of rum.
The Spectrum of Rum
Light Rum: These are clear rums without much flavor of their own. Light rums are typically filtered after aging to remove color. Also called silver or white rum, they provide a good base for building other flavors in cocktails. Puerto Rico is a big producer of light rums.
Amber Rum: Wood barrels give amber rums their golden color and rich flavor. They are also called gold rum.
Dark Rum: Aged in charred whiskey barrels, dark rums take on a dark color and deep flavor. Jamaica is known for producing dark rums.
Spiced Rum: These rums are flavored with spices, such as cinnamon and cloves. In color, they are darker than light rum; sometimes caramel is used to deepen their hue.
Flavored Rum: These rums are infused with fruit flavors (coconut or mango, for example).
Premium Rum: These fancy sipping rums are usually produced in small boutique distilleries and are aged for a number of years.
Dry Rum: Fermented from sugar cane juice rather than molasses, dry rum is not aged in oak barrels but stainless steel vats.