Rum – A Guide


Rum was said to be first created in Barbados during the 17th century. It get’s its name from the word Rum-bullion, which is an old English word for an uproar or tumult. It’s made from sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup or molasses.


Dark rums, also known by their particular colour, such as brown, black, or red rums, are classed a grade darker than gold rums.They are generally aged longer, in charred barrels  or caramel is added, giving them much stronger flavors than either light or gold rums, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone. They commonly provide substance in rum drinks, as well as colour.

Flavoured rums are infused with flavours of fruits, such as banana, mango, orange, citrus, coconut, starfruit or lime. These are generally less than 40% ABV [80 proof]. They mostly serve to flavour similarly-themed tropical drinks but are also often drank neat or with ice.

Gold rums, also called “amber” rums, are medium-bodied rums that are generally aged. These gain their dark color from aging in wooden barrels (usually the charred, white oak barrels that are the byproduct of Bourbon whiskey). They have more flavour and are stronger-tasting than light rum, and can be considered midway between light rum and the darker varieties.

Light rums, also referred to as “silver” or “white” rums, in general, are subtle in flavour aside from a general sweetness. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any colour. Their milder flavours make them popular for use in mixed drinks, as opposed to drinking them straight.

Overproof rums are much higher than the standard 40% ABV [80 proof], with many as high as 75% [150 proof] to 80% [160 proof] available. One example is Bacardi 151. They are usually used in mixed drinks.

Premium rums, as with other sipping spirits such as Cognac and Scotch, are in a special market category. These are generally from boutique brands that sell carefully produced and aged rums.They have more character and flavour than their “mixing” counterparts and are generally consumed straight.

Spiced rums obtain their flavours through the addition of spices and, sometimes, caramel. Most are darker in colour, and based on gold rums. Some are significantly darker, while many cheaper brands are made from inexpensive white rums and darkened with caramel colour. Among the spices added are vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, rosemary, absinthe/aniseed, or pepper.

What to Buy

Appleton White £15.95 – One of best aged white rums on the market with subtle vanilla, coconut and citrus notes. Great in a Daiquiri.

Appleton Extra 12 year old £34.35 – Is truly one of the most balanced rums on the market with deep notes of cocoa, dark fruit, toffee and brown sugar.An affordable luxury.

Appleton 21 year old £130.00 – With only 12,000 bottles produced each year, this rum is much sought after. Robust with leather,smoke,caramel and toffee notes, this amazing rum has been likened to some of the finest cognacs in the world.

Expert Opinion

With thanks to Mr Ian Burrell -the only Global Rum Ambassador and the leading figure in the rum world. Mr Burrell runs The RumFest, the world’s premier Rum festival – – Photo credit Luoana Negut.