Dark Rum vs Light Rum: What’s The Difference

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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In the endless debate of dark rum vs light rum vs white rum, there are a few key differences of which you should be aware.

Dark Rum vs. Light Rum

There are many different kinds of rum on the market, but how do you know which one is the right one? The difference in taste between variations of rum can be very broad, but understanding the flavors of each will guarantee that your drink is perfect.

Processing

  • Dark Rum: Dark rum is usually made from molasses or burnt sugar and is aged much longer than white rum, often in oak barrels.
  • Light Rum: To make a rum light, it is not aged after distillation like a dark rum but is instead bottled right away. It is also stored commercially in steel barrels, to avoid any contamination of the flavor.
Close-up of two glasses of dark liquor on the rocks with slices of lime

Dark rum on the rocks. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Color

  • Dark Rum: Dark rum is defined by its distinct color, which can range from a dark amber to a blackish-brown.
  • Light Rum: Light rum is often referred to as silver or white rum, due to its traditionally clear color. It is often filtered after distillation to remove any trace of color.

Taste

  • Dark Rum: Dark rum is often either drank straight or used in cooking, due to the richness in flavor. Sometimes dark rum is mixed with spiced rum, which has various spices, including aniseed, cardamom, and cinnamon. A good number of spiced rums are made with dark rums, but not all dark rums are spiced.
  • Light Rum: The flavor of light rum is very mild and slightly sweet, verging on tasteless. This makes light rum very popular for mixed drinks and cocktails, but not for drinking straight.

Gluten Intolerance

  • Rum, dark or light, is usually gluten-free, but dark rums in pre-made mixes or spiced may not be safe for those who have a strong intolerance.

Alcohol Content

  • The alcohol content for both dark rum and light rum margins at around 40%.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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