Rum is a spirit distilled from sugarcane or sugarcane by-products. It varies widely in style as it’s been a bit of a slippery eel when it comes to regulation. That having been said, it falls under five broad categories:
White rum: Regardless of the fact that white rum is colorless, these spirits can gain complexity and elegance through barrel aging and charcoal filtering.
Rhum Agricole: French for “cane juice rum,” rhum agricole is made by fermenting, then distilling, fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice instead of molasses. The style originated in the French Caribbean islands and is seeing a resurgence in popularity as new producers come on line.
Dark/Gold rum: Aging in charred oak barrels, typically casks that previously held whiskey, gives this category its color and its hints of vanilla.
Spiced rum: Although, in the past, spiced rums were usually born out of an effort to disguise low quality rum with flavorings, craft distilleries, such as Delaware’s Dogfish Head, are producing delicious, nuanced spiced rums.
Overproof rum: To be overproof, a rum must be over 50% alcohol (100 + proof). Use it to impress your friends by setting things on fire or to add a bit more punch to the punch, if you know what I mean.