Rum is an alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane, generally in the form of liquid molasses, using a particular distillation and fermentation process. It is believed that the first fermented drinks made from sugarcane were produced in India or China. Today, much of the rum produced in the world is from the Caribbean islands and countries of Latin America, although it is also produced in various other parts of the world, including in the United States and Canada, in parts of Europe, on some Pacific islands and in Australia, as well as in South Asia and South Africa.
The character of rum varies based on place of production, including on the distillery. There are various grades of rum that come in several different varieties, including dark, golden or amber, light or white, and spiced or flavored. The following is a general outline of the varieties of rum.
Dark rums may be brown, black, or red in color and are traditionally rich, caramel-dominated rums a grade stronger than golden rums. The best are produced mostly from pot stills and are frequently aged in oak casks for extended periods, often up to several years. The richest of these rums may be consumed straight or with ice. Dark rums are also used in cooking. The Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Haiti, and Martinique produce most dark rums. Popular brands of dark rum include Myer’s and Cruzan Blackstrap.
Golden or amber rums have a richer and smoother flavor as a result of the production of compounds during fermentation. Golden rum has a stronger taste than light rum but is more mellow than dark rum. Popular brands of golden rum include Mount Gay and Appleton.
Light Rum, also called silver or white rum, is barreled for about a year and generally has little flavor other than general sweetness. Light rum is usually filtered to remove any color before bottling. Brazilian cachaça is a rum of this type, although Puerto Rico is the largest producer of light rums. Light rums are generally light-bodied, although there are some heavy-bodied light rums in the French Caribbean. Light, or white, rums are primarily used as mixers and can be blended well with fruit flavors. One popular brand of light rum is Bacardi Light.
Spiced rums generally use golden rums as a base. Spiced rums may be infused with caramel or other types of spices and mixed with fruit flavors such as banana, mango, coconut, orange, and other citrus fruits. Spiced rums are usually less than 40% alcoholic and may be consumed either straight or with ice. Rum punches are blends of rum and fruit juices that are very popular in the Caribbean.