Rum is a spirit distilled from sugarcane or molasses but because it is predominantly made in the Caribbean, the laws aren’t as strict as say, whisk(e)y laws. Rum is often aged in wooden barrels, but given the tropical climate of the Caribbean, the liquor matures much more quickly in the barrel so comparing a scotch aged 12 years to a rum aged 12 years isn’t apples to apples.
There are four key types of rum that you’ll encounter: white, medium-bodied dark, full-bodied dark, and spiced.
White rums are clear in color and generally have the least flavor among the different types of rum, making them excellent base spirits in cocktails like mojitos.
Medium-bodied dark rums are fuller in flavor and generally gold in color. Their darker color is sometimes due to aging, but may also come from the addition of caramel or molasses in an effort to darken the liquid.
Full-bodied dark rums are typically darker in color because they have been well-aged in barrels, but as with the medium-bodied dark rums, this may also be due to the addition of caramel or molasses. These rums tend to be the best quality.
Spiced rums are rums that have been flavored with various spices like cinnamon, pepper and anise.