The grades and variations used to describe rum depend on the location where a rum was produced. Despite these variations, the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum:
Dark rums, also known by their particular colour, such as brown, black, or red rums, are classes a grade darker than gold rums.
- Flavored rums are infused with flavors of fruits, such as banana, mango, orange, pineapple, coconut, starfruit or lime. These are generally less than 40% ABV (80 proof). They mostly serve to flavor similarly-themed tropical drinks but are also often drunk neat or with ice. This infusion of flavors occurs after fermentation and distillation. Various chemicals are added to the alcohol to simulate the tastes of food.
- Gold rums, also called “amber” rums, are medium-bodied rums that are generally aged. These gain their dark colour from aging in wooden barrels (usually the charred, white oak barrels that are the byproduct of Bourbon whiskey). They have more flavor 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, have very little flavor aside from a general sweetness. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any colour. The majority of light rums come from Puerto Rico. Their milder flavors make them popular for use in mixed drinks, as opposed to drinking them straight. Light rums are included in some of the most popular cocktails including the Mojito and the Daiquiri.
- 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. Two examples are Bacardi 151 or Pitorro moonshine. They are usually used in mixed drinks.
- Premium rums, as with other sipping spirits such as Cognac and Scotch whisky, are in a special market category. These are generally from boutique brands that sell carefully produced and aged rums. They have more character and flavor than their “mixing” counterparts and are generally consumed straight.
- Spiced rums obtain their flavors 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 cinnamon, rosemary, absinthe/aniseed, pepper, cloves, and cardamom.
- Brown rums are made from cane sugar. They are generally aged in heavily charred barrels or on wood chips, giving them much stronger whisky type flavors than other dark rums. Hints of brown sugar and vanilla can be detected, along with caramel overtones. Brown rum is commonly distilled in the Middle East and is a used in place of Whisky or Bourbon. Brown rums are typically found in areas such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Wale