White Rum vs Dark Rum: What’s the Difference?

by Michael
rum-cocktail

Both white rum and dark rum are very popular. But you might wonder what are the differences between these two types of rum and which one should you choose. While these two drinks are both rum, they can offer you a different experience when you drink them plain or in different cocktail combinations!

The main difference between white rum and dark rum is the color but as soon as you taste them you will notice that they have different flavors too. Let’s take a deeper look into all the important differences between white rum and dark rum!

White Rum vs Dark Rum

Characteristics  White rum  Dark rum 
Color  Clear  Gold, brownish shades 
Taste  Sweeter, milder than dark rum, could have vanilla or tannin notes  Stronger, bolder and with a richer flavor, could have earthly, grassy, or caramel notes
Alcohol  Average of 40% Average of 40% but could be up to 80%
Uses  More common as an ingredient in cocktails Plain with ice and as an ingredient in cocktails

Does dark rum taste different than white rum?

The difference in taste between these two types of rum is quite obvious when you taste them. The white rum tends to be sweeter compared to the dark version of rum. White rum also has a softer flavor that is milder than the flavor of dark rum. 

On the other hand, dark rum is richer and bolder in its taste. This is due to the fact that dark rum is left to age for several months and even years while white rum is not aged as much. Also, dark rum has other spices and ingredients that empower its taste while white rum is plainly made of sugarcane or molasses. 

You will notice that dark rum can also have a flavor or burned sugar and even a smoky-sweet aftertaste. Such flavors make dark rum a bit more popular compared to white rum. 

The milder taste of white rum or light rum is also a consequence of the charcoal filtration process. White rum goes through charcoal filtration to have the color removed. Also, different types of white rum can have a mild vanilla taste or tannin taste to them. 

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Whats the difference between white rum and dark rum?

The main and most visible difference between white rum and dark rum is the color. White rum comes in a clear shade, and can easily be confused with vodka in that respect. On the contrary, dark rum can come in various shades that range from gold to brown and dark brown. 

The taste is another major difference between the two types of rum. But depending on what spices were added to the dark rum and how the white rum was produced, you could still find brands that reduce this taste difference significantly. There are versions of dark rum and light rum with similar tastes even if they might come in different intensities and concentrations. 

The way these types of rum are used is also different due to the fact that they bring their own flavor. White rum tends to be more popular as an ingredient in various cocktails such as Pina Colada than consumed plain. This happens due to its mild flavor and clear color, both great qualities for many cocktail recipes. 

Dark rum can very well be enjoyed plain with a few ice cubes and it will taste great! But dark rum is also a common ingredient in cocktails so it is ultimately up to your preference how you choose to consume it. 

Also, unlike white rum, dark rum can be frequently used in cooked recipes such as desserts. 

The aging process of these two types of rum also represents a difference that is notable between them. White rum is aged much less compared to dark rum, if it is even aged at all. As a general rule, the longer the rum is aged, the darker its color will be. 

Can I substitute dark rum for white rum?

So, since both white rum and dark rum are still rum, can you use them interchangeably? Not really. But you can substitute dark rum for white rum in different cocktails. You will not be able to make this switch all the time due to the different taste between white and dark rum. For instance, in cooked recipes, white rum will not offer you the same, intense flavor that dark rum brings. 

Plus, it is important to consider that the range of dark rum is very wide. And when it comes to spiced rum, it can be even more difficult to substitute it with a light rum that has a very mild flavor and will not do much in terms of taste for your recipe. 

Difference between white rum and spiced rum

When you compare white or light rum with spiced rum you will notice the same differences as you noticed between white rum and dark rum. Spiced rum is a dark type of rum and it can come in various flavors depending on the spices that were used. 

Spiced rum tends to have an even more intense flavor than regular dark rum. So, the difference in taste will be that much more significant when you compare it with light rum. Also, spiced rum is aged significantly more than light rum and that will define its fragrance as well as its color much more. 

Is dark rum stronger than a light rum?

In matter of taste, dark rum is definitely the stronger type of rum that will make a difference in your cocktail or recipe. Dark rum also tends to have more alcohol compared to white rum which is made from distilled alcohol that is not aged as much as dark rum. 

But the alcohol level in both dark rum and white rum can be easily compared as they tend to be around 40% for the average versions. There are type4s of dark rum that could come with an alcohol content as high as 80% but they are not as commercial. However, the possibility of dark rum to be stronger than light rum when it comes to its alcohol content exists. 

Which rum is sweetest?

White rum tends to have a sweeter flavor compared to dark rum due to the high concentration of molasses in it. However, if you compare light rum with spiced rum that was enriched with caramel flavor, the difference in sweetness might not be so obvious anymore. 

White rum can also come with a vanilla flavor which increases its sweetness compared to regular dark rum. But even in this case, it might not be as sweet as certain spiced rums on the market. 

Is Captain Morgan light or dark rum?

Captain Morgan is one of the most popular brands of rum on the market. It comes at a high quality but also at a budget-friendly price which makes it a favorite among many people worldwide. 

This brand of rum is a white rum that can be unaged or just lightly aged. There are several varieties of Captain Morgan and all of them are light rum versions. An interesting fact about Captain Morgan rum is that it comes in various flavors such as cinnamon, spicy, vanilla, and others.

So, you will be able to find one that suits your taste. Plus, the extra flavors tend to enhance the taste of the white rum and make it a better ingredient for different cocktails. 

The brand was founded in Virgin Islands, U.S, in 1944 and it became a market leader in the industry rather fast. 

Which rum is best with Coke?

If you like the rum and Coke combination, you should know that white or light rum goes best with this type of soda. Make sure to add a few ice cubes for a perfect drink that is ready in just a few seconds. Dark rum tends to be too rich in terms of flavor and it takes over the Coke aroma, which is not a popular option for many people. 

However, trying both white rum and dark rum with Coke could be the best way for you to discover which one goes best according to your personal taste. The type of rum you choose in terms of flavor will also make a difference in the final drink. 

Final thoughts 

Both white rum and dark rum can surprise you in terms of flavor and they can go great in a variety of combinations. The best way to decide which one you like more is to try these types of rum in different combinations. As long as you know what to expect, you will not be disappointed too much. 

Remember that dark rum can come with different spices that have a significant impact on its taste. Also, white rum is milder in flavor so, if you are not familiar with the taste of rum, you might want to start by trying light rum before you move on to more complex rum varieties. These two types of rum can also be found combined in cocktails such as Tequila Moonrise. 

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