Difference between White Rum and Dark Rum

Key difference: White rums tend to have a fairly clean and sweet taste. Dark rums are quite popular and have a bold, fuller taste. Dark rums also have a greater amount of underlying molasses and sometimes caramel flavor, as well as a tinge of spices.

Rum is a type of liquor that is made from fermented sugarcane and molasses, which is the syrupy by-product of sugarcane. The process of making rum includes taking the sweet juices from the sugarcane and turning them into molasses. The molasses is then fermented into rum. The rum is then aged in casks and the type of cask used determines the final color of the rum.

According to the United States Government Federal Standards of Identity, the official definition of rum states: “(f) Class 6; rum. ‘Rum’ is an alcoholic distillate from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, sugar cane molasses, or other sugar cane by-products, produced at less than 190 proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to rum, and bottled at not less than 80 proof; and also includes mixtures solely of such distillates.”

Rum is most commonly available as white rum, gold rum, and dark rum. As previously stated the amount of time the rum is aged and the type of cask it is aged in, determines the color of the rum. There are also some differences in the taste and uses of the different rums.

Rum basically starts its journey as a clear alcoholic beverage but takes different shades during storage or aging. It generally gains hues of golden and amber as they mature. Some distillers actually add burnt sugar or caramel coloring to enhance or balance the color for consistency. Many dark rums gain most of their rich color and often their full-bodied flavor from added caramel or molasses.

White rum is traditionally produce and is quite popular in Spanish speaking countries. White rums tend to have a fairly clean and sweet taste, which makes it quite popular with many people. Its taste also makes it quite compatible for many cocktail recipes. It is rarely drunk straight and is often mixed with other ingredients. White rum is also sold in many flavored forms, especially made popular by Bacardi.

White rum is traditionally aged in stainless steel tanks for up to a year and filtered before bottling. The filtration process gets rid of any colors that the rum might have picked up while aging. The process also gives white rum its clean and light flavor. White rums are also considered be cheaper to make and less expensive to purchase that more mature rums.

Dark rums are quite popular and have a bold, fuller taste. This is mainly due to longer aging time in heavy burnt barrels. They are commonly aged two or more years in charred oak casks. Dark rums also have a greater amount of underlying molasses and sometimes caramel flavor, as well as tinges of spices. Dark rum is also called red rum or black rum, depending on its color. Dark rum is usually drunk as it, or sipped. It is also sometimes used in rum punches and in cocktails, in addition to white rum. Dark rum is also commonly used in cooking.

A detailed comparison between White Rum and Dark Rum:


White Rum

Dark Rum



Light golden amber to black. Hues of mahogany, copper and caramel.


Subtle liquor, sweet. Milder flavor and lighter body than dark rums.

Stronger then white rum, robust, with caramel overtones, tinges of spices, rich flavors and strong molasses flavor.


One or more years.

Longer to age, usually two or more years.

Casks used

Stainless steel

Charred oak

Filtering process

Filtered to remove any coloring.

Filtered just to get rid of any impurities.


Cocktails, mixed drinks

Cocktails, mixed drinks, cooking, drunk straight

Popular in

Spanish speaking countries

English speaking countries


Bacardi Superior, Don Q Cristal, Cruzan Estate Light, Oronoco, Mount Gay Silver, Matusalem Plantino, Rubi Rey, 10 Cane, Flor de Caña Extra Dry and Diplomatico Rum Blanco.

Old Monk, Cruzan Estate Dark, Bacardi Select, Flor de Caña 5 Black Label, Barbancourt 3 Star, Diplomatico Anejo, Angostura Dark 5, Angostura 1919, Appleton V/X, Barcelo Dorado, Cockspur 5, El Dorado 5, Matusalem Classico, Mount Gay Eclipse and Santa Teresa Selecto.

Image Courtesy: teamsugar.com, thedrinkshop.com

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The categories of "white rum" and "dark rum" have never really been valid. Color is commonly added in the form of the common spirits coloring called E-150a. Much rum that would ordinarily be white or very light straw in color is often colored to look older than it is. Age statements are untrustworthy as no rum is aged in bonded and supervised warehouses. True aged rums are in fact darker, but again, more color is added to attain impossible amber and mahogany color. All this is to say that rogue rum is a completely untrustworthy spirit. Those who choose a rum by color are fooling themselves only. At The Rum Project we are dedicated to the very few pure and unadulterated rums that are not altered in any way.

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