Rum is an incredibly popular drink worldwide due to its versatility, variance in types and heritage.
The basic product is produced from the fermentation and subsequent distillation of sugarcane byproducts such as molasses.
After the distillation process, the rum is aged. The length of time to which it is aged dictates its classification. The main categories are as follows;
Light (Silver or White) Rum - Aged for a very short period of time and often filtered to remove any colour. They generally have the most mild flavour of all rums and therefore tend to be drunk most commonly mixed or in cocktails.
Gold Rums - These rums serve as the midpoint between light and dark rums. They are aged in wooden barrels (generally ex-bourbon) and as a result have a greater depth, flavour and complexity than white rums. Although they are more likely to be drunk straight than white rums, generally they are mainly used for mixing and in cocktails.
Dark Rums - The next step us from Gold Rums, these ones are usually made from molasses or caramelised sugar and aged for far longer than the previous rums mentioned. Their flavour is stonger as a result and there is often a hint of spice. Their aging process is similar to that of whisky. Dark rum is the most common variety to be used in cooking and it is at this level that rums begin to be drunk straight generally although they are often still mixed.
Premium Rums - These rums are the most prestigious of the rums and tend to come from smaller producers that take great care to age their products well, allowing them to enter the realm of other sipping drinks such as whisky, cognac, armagnac etc. They have more natural flavour and character than any other category of rum and are very rarely mixed.
Spiced Rums - Generally similar in colour to Gold rums, Spiced rums are generally either white or gold rums that have had spices such as pepper, aniseed, cinnamon etc added to them. Colouring may also be added.
Flavoured Rums - These rums are used to create tropical themed cocktails and long drinks and are heavily entwined with flavours of tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, guava, mango, orange, coconut to name but a few.
Overproof Rums - Overproof rums are rums that have an alcohol by volume percentage greater than 57.5% (100 degrees proof). The term originates from when gunpowder was used to determine the alcoholic content of spirits, dating back to the 17th century. If the gunpowder could still be ignited having been drenched in spirit, the spirit was deemed to be "proven". 100 degrees proof was decided to be the pass mark for a proven spirit. Since then, with advances in technology, the required % ABV that would still allow combustion of a spirit has been found to be 57.5%, hence overproof rums are greater than 57.5% ABV.