This is a brief introduction to rum, the history of its production and a guide to rum types, from white rum to spiced.

Rum 101: An Introduction


Soon after Christopher Columbus brought the first sugarcane plant to America, cane plantations began to spring up throughout the Caribbean. By the mid-1600s, the first rum was created on the island of Barbados by mixing molasses (a byproduct of sugar production) with water, and fermenting it in the hot, tropical sun.

A Brief History Of Rum-Making

Early on, this newly-created liquor was most frequently enjoyed by the pirates that sailed between Africa and America and the slave population already living in the Caribbean.

It didn't take long, however, for rum's popularity to spread to the American colonies and on to Great Britain. By the end of the 17th century, rum had become a profitable Caribbean export.

Over the centuries, many aspects of rum-making have been modernized, but quite a few of the time-honored methods of distillation and aging are still used by quality rum makers today.

Types Of Rum

  • Light Rum: Also known as silver or white rum, light rum is aged for a short period of time and filtered to remove impurities. White rum is generally mild-flavored, crystal clear and most commonly used in light, tropical-style mixed drinks like the Mojito and Piña Colada.
  • Gold Rum: Gold (or amber) rum is aged in wooden casks for a significantly longer period than light rum and that process lends it a richer, slightly sweet flavor. It's an excellent choice for cocktails like Planter's Punch and Mai Tais, which include other spirits and/or liqueurs.
  • Dark Rum: Dark rum (also called black rum) is aged for a number of years and has a deep brown hue and complex flavor characteristics. It can be served neat or over ice, or mixed into a variety of handcrafted signature cocktails.
  • Spiced Rum: Spiced rum is also an aged rum, but usually contains added caramel color and spices like vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. It mixes well with citrus juices, apple cider and even makes a flavorful addition to a winter sangria.