Dark Rum vs Light Rum

Both light and dark rum originated in the Caribbean and have become a staple in mixed drinks and cocktails worldwide. If you’ve ever indulged in a mojito or pina colada, you’re likely familiar with the taste of rum.

Light rums are the star ingredient of many a classic cocktail. Dark rums are best known for their bold flavor, often enjoyed neat or with a mixer like a cola. However, both light & dark rums are much more complex than that and how you choose to drink either depends on your personal preference.

Read below to find out what sets light rum & dark rum apart and how you can enjoy both!

What is Light Rum?

Light rum is very light or clear in color and has a mild, slightly sweet and sometimes herbaceous or fruity flavor.

How It’s Made

All rum is made from sugarcane and its by-products, namely molasses or sugarcane syrup. The syrup is distilled into clear alcohol and then aged in an oak barrel.

Types of Light Rum

Most white rums are the same in essence but vary in flavor and aging lengths. Depending on your preference, you can opt for a longer-aged white rum, which will likely have a drier, toastier taste. On the other hand, lesser-aged rums will be lighter in flavor, with possible vanilla, coconut, or citrus notes.

Is light rum the same as white rum?

Light rum is also known as white or silver rum. The aging process used to make light rum typically gives the spirit a darker color, but most white rums are aged for a minimal time frame or have their color stripped out after aging. Rums with a pale yellow color may be called golden or amber rum.

Light Rum Drinks

Light or white rum is most commonly used in cocktails such as mojitos, pina coladas, caipirinhas, and daiquiris. Occasionally, golden rum makes an excellent addition to these cocktails. Dark rum may also be used in any of these drinks but is not a typical choice as most light rum-based cocktails bear light and refreshing flavor profiles.

Dark vs Light Rum

What is Dark Rum?

Dark rum begins as the same spirit as light rum. However, it is aged longer and has a darker color, which can range anywhere from the color of caramel to the color of molasses.

How It’s Made

Dark rum starts off the same way as light rum and follows most of the same process. The primary difference is that dark rum is aged much longer in wooden barrels, giving it a deeper color and bolder, richer flavor profile.

Is dark rum the same as spiced rum?

Spiced rum typically has a rich amber color, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a dark rum. Unlike most light or dark rums, spiced rums contain additives such as caramel flavoring and the spices that give the rum its name, including cinnamon, allspice & star anise.

What to Mix with Dark Rum

Dark rum makes an excellent base for mixed drinks like rum and coke. Alternatively, you can mix dark rum with your favorite soda, such as tonic, ginger ale or soda water with a slice of lime. You can also try mixing dark rum with orange juice, cranberry juice or coconut water & lime. Dark rum also makes a nice addition to a red sangria.

Dark Rum Cocktails

Because of its bolder flavor, dark rum serves as an excellent base for a dark and stormy cocktail that’s made with ginger beer, vanilla and lime.

Dark rum is also commonly used in mai tais, which incorporate dark rum, Cointreau, lime juice, and Orgeat syrup.

For a sweet and refreshing beverage, use dark rum as the base for rum punch, a widely enjoyed drink throughout Barbados. Rum punch is typically made from white rum, dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice & and grenadine (pomegranate syrup).

What is the difference between dark rum and light rum?

As discussed, the main differences between light and dark rum are their appearance in color and their flavor profiles. Light rum is typically clear with a fresh & sweet flavor, while dark rum is a deep brown color with a smoky-sweet flavor.

Light rum is the typical choice for use in cocktails, while dark rum is most often taken with a mixer such as soda or juice or sipped on its own. That said, what you do with rum is ultimately up to you, and the options are endless!