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Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels.

Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas Golden and Dark rums are also appropriate for drinking straight, or for cooking. Premium rums are also available that are made to be consumed straight or with ice.

Dividing rum into meaningful groupings is complicated by the fact that there is no single standard for what constitutes rum. Instead rum is defined by the varying rules and laws of the nations that produce the spirit. The differences in definitions include issues such as spirit proof, minimum aging, and even naming standards.

Examples of the differences in proof is Colombia, requiring their rum possess a minimum alcohol content of 50 ABV, while Chile and Venezuela require only a minimum of 40 ABV. Mexico requires rum be aged a minimum of 8 months; the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela require two years. Naming standards also vary. Argentina defines rums as white, gold, light, and extra light. Barbados uses the terms white, overproof, and matured, while the United States defines rum, rum liqueur, and flavored rum.[26] In Australia Rum is divided into Dark or Red Rum (Under Proof known as UP, Over Proof known as OP, and triple distilled) and White Rum.

Grades of Rum

Examples of dark, spiced, and light rums.

The grades and variations used to describe rum depend on the location that a rum was produced. Despite these variations the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum:

  • Light Rums, also referred to as silver rums and white rums. In general, light rum has very little flavor aside from a general sweetness, and serves accordingly as a base for cocktails.
  • Gold Rums, also called amber rums, are medium-bodied rums that are generally aged. These gain their dark color from aging in wooden barrels They have more flavor, and are stronger tasting than Silver Rum, and can be considered a midway-point between Silver/Light Rum and the darker varieties.
  • Spiced Rum: These rums obtain their flavor through addition of spices and, sometimes, caramel. Most are darker in color, and based on gold rums.
  • Dark Rum, also known as black rum or red rum, classes as a grade darker than gold rum. It is generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. Dark rum has a much stronger flavor than either light or gold rum, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone.
  • Flavored Rum: Some manufacturers have begun to sell rums infused with flavors of fruit.
  • Overproof Rum is rum that is much higher than the standard 40% alcohol. Most of these rums bear greater than 60%, in fact, and preparations of 75% to 80% abv occur commonly.
  • Premium Rum: As with other sipping spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, a market exists for premium and super-premium rums.