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Rum colour: how to tell the difference

The world of rum is extremely rich and filled with different shades and nuances. There are so many different colours of rum that it can get a bit too complicated to make the right choices, especially if you’re a newbie in the field.

Perhaps the best way to determine the colour of rum is to hold it up to a light source and observe its hue. You can also compare it to a colour chart or reference guide. But even if you do determine the colour, it won’t mean anything to you unless you know more about the characteristics of the rum that possesses this colour.

In the following sections, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the different rum colours as it pertains to buying rum online.

Factors that influence rum colour

When it comes to the colour of rum, there are a number of factors that can influence the final result.

Let’s take a deeper dive into each one of them.

Ageing Process

The ageing process of rum is the primary factor that determines its colour. As the rum sits in the barrel, it reacts with the wood and acquires colour and flavour compounds from the barrel.

The colour can also be influenced by factors such as the type of wood used in the barrel, the level of charring on the wood, and the climate in which the barrel is stored.

For example, rums aged in warm, humid climates tend to darken more quickly than those aged in cooler, drier climates. The length of ageing also plays a role in determining the colour of the rum, as longer ageing times result in darker rums. For example, you’ll notice that the Ron Izalco Rum has a rich burnt umber colour that’s distinctive of this bottle and is a true pleasure to the eye.

Type of Barrel

The type of barrel used for ageing can also affect the colour of the rum. Different types of barrels will result in different colour tones.

For example, bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels, which imparts a rich, amber colour, while sherry is aged in sherry barrels, which can impart a reddish-brown colour. A prime example of the colour created by oak casks is the Heroes & Heretics Dark Wood Rum” which has a distinctive amber colour and an even better, richer taste.

Some producers may use multiple types of barrels in their ageing process to achieve a specific colour, or they may use a combination of new and used barrels to achieve a unique flavour profile.

Blending and Caramel colouring

Some rum producers blend different types of rum together to create a specific flavour profile and colour.

For example, a producer may blend a lighter rum that has been aged for a short period of time with a darker rum that has been aged for a longer period of time to create a medium-bodied rum with a rich, amber colour.

Some producers also add caramel colouring to their rum to achieve the typical colour, especially in light and spiced rums, as the natural ageing process may not result in the anticipated light colour. The addition of caramel colouring is a common practice in the rum industry, and it is used to ensure a consistent colour in each batch of rum produced.

When it comes to bottle recommendations, we can point you to the Captain Morgan Private Stock Rum as a prime example of a rum with a rich caramel colour and a beautifully crafted bottle – a true pleasure for the eyes and the taste buds.

Different rum colours and what makes them unique

So what are the different rum colours out there and what should you know about them?

Let’s find out.

White or Clear Rum

White rum, also known as light rum or clear rum, can be easily identified by its clear or pale yellow colour. Most white rums will be labelled as such on the bottle, often with the terms “white,” “clear,” or “silver” rum. This can be a reliable indicator of the rum’s colour and ageing process.

It’s known for its clear or pale yellow colour, which is a result of the filtering process to remove the colour and impurities acquired during the ageing process. In terms of aroma, white rum has a light, clean aroma with minimal oak and vanilla notes. If a rum has a strong, oak-forward aroma, it may indicate that it has been aged for a longer period of time.

Another specific detail about white rum is its light and clean flavour, with a minimal amount of oak and vanilla notes from the ageing process. It is often used in cocktails that require a light, neutral spirit, such as a Mojito or a Daiquiri.

A good bottle example is the Chairman’s Reserve White Rum which is versatile, so it’s perfect to sip on its own or in a mixer.

Dark Rum

So what can we say about the white vs dark rum debate?

Dark rum is a full-bodied rum that has been aged for many years (8 years or more) in heavily charred oak barrels. This gives it a deep, dark colour and a strong, intense flavour profile. The ageing process also imparts flavours of caramel, molasses, and vanilla.

Dark rum has a rich, full-bodied flavour that is often described as sweet, smoky, and bold. When it comes to alcohol content, dark rum can range from 40% to 45% ABV, although you can definitely find brands that produce higher-proof versions.

Dark rum is typically aged for a minimum of 5 years, although some brands may age their rum for up to 20 years or more. It’s a popular choice for cocktails, such as the Mai Tai, the Dark and Stormy, and the Rum Old Fashioned. It is also trendy as a sipping rum, served neat or on the rocks.

Overall, if you’re looking for a bold, full-bodied rum with a rich, complex flavour profile – we highly recommend giving dark rum a try but do opt for a higher quality bottle, such as the Bumbu Dark Rum, if you want to trully spoil your taste buds too.

Gold or Amber Rum

As the name suggests, Gold or Amber rum has a golden or amber colour, which comes from being aged in oak barrels. As noted, the longer the rum is aged, the darker its colour will be.

The flavour of Gold or Amber rum is often described as being smooth and complex, with notes of vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak. The specific flavour profile of gold rum can vary greatly depending on the type of oak barrels used for ageing, the region it is produced in, and the method of production.

In most cases, the alcohol content of gold rum ranges from 40% to 45% ABV, although some brands that do limited edition spirits may produce higher-proof versions. It’s typically aged for a minimum of three years, although some brands may age their rum for up to 20 years or more. The length of ageing will impact the flavour, colour, and overall quality of the drink.

Overall, Gold or Amber rum is considered a premium type of rum and is often used in cocktails and sipping drinks. It is a popular choice for those who are looking for a rum with a rich, smooth flavour and a hint of oak barrel character. A bestseller in this category is the Bacardi Reserva Ocho – a rare bottle with a notable colour and even more pleasant flavours.

Spiced Rum

On the other hand, spiced rum colour stands out with other specifics.

Spiced rum is a type of rum that has been flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and clove. It is typically a dark rum, but the added spices can make the colour vary. Spiced rum is often used in cocktails that call for a sweet and spicy flavour, such as a spiced cider or a pumpkin spice latte. If you’re looking for a good quality spiced bottle, opt for the Mermaid Spiced Rum as one of the more favoured options on the market.

It’s important to note that the colour of rum can vary depending on the producer and the specific type of rum being produced. Some rums are also blended with other rums or caramel colouring to achieve the desired colour.

To determine the specific colour of a rum, it’s best to look at the label or check with the producer. And if you’re into rum in general, why not experiment and test different colours and flavours until you find the perfect option? Don’t forget to check out our online rum catalogue for a variety of suggestions.

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