White Vs Dark Rum: What’s The Difference?

What’s the difference between white and dark rum?

Everyone has a preference when it comes to liquor. Some people will only drink clear liquors (vodka, tequila, etc.), while others like to sip on something darker (whiskey, bourbon, scotch). And the preferences don’t stop there—people tend to have really strong opinions when it comes to rum, too. 

Some like it neat; others prefer it in a mixed drink. And some will only drink it if it is blended into a frozen and fruity cocktail. But beyond that, the ultimate divider between rum drinkers is whether or not they prefer white or dark rum. 

So, what exactly is the difference between white rum vs. dark rum? It all comes down to the taste and color of each type of rum. A very basic way to understand the differences in color is that white rum is un-aged, whereas dark rum is aged. However, we say basic because this is not always the case for every rum. 

Some brands of rum simply have caramel or coloring added to them to change the color while not being aged. On the other hand, some aged rum that is dark in color can be filtered through charcoal in order to remove the color. So the color of the rum is not always an indication of whether or not it has been aged, and it is not indicative of the flavor profile either. 

When alcohol of any kind is distilled, it is clear in color. This is simply a result of the distillation process, and it is the same reason why vodka and tequila start out as being clear liquors. The most traditional way to give it some color is through aging it in a barrel. The longer it is aged, the darker the color becomes. It then takes on different flavor profiles in addition to different colors. 

Rum has a long history within the United States and the Caribbean. Some people associate it with pirates, some associate it with their college spring break, some associate it with US history, but everyone can associate it with having a good time and tasting delicious. It is a versatile liquor that is pretty much always a crowd-pleaser.  

What are the origins of rum?

Many people think about pirates when they think of rum, but there is much more to its history than that. Rum originated in the 1650s in Barbados, when it was first mentioned in records. It was originally called “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” but was eventually shortened to just rum within a decade or so. 

Rum was the first major liquor to be distilled in the early days of the United States. New England rum has been made in the United States for over 300 years. In fact, it was pretty much one of the only liquors widely available until the appearance of gin and vodka in the 1900s. 

Unfortunately, rum does have a dark past, as it was first predominantly used in the colonial slave trade. Slaves were traded for molasses, which was then turned into rum and traded for more slaves. 

It is a distilled liquor made from either molasses (what’s left after sugarcane has been crystallized) or from sugarcane juice if molasses is not available. Heavy and dark rums are the original and oldest types of rums, with origins in Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana. Dry and light rums did not begin production until the 19th century. 

What are some of the most popular rums?

Rum is a great liquor to get the party going. Perfect for days spent lounging by the pool or hanging out at the beach, you just can’t go wrong. If you are new to rum or are in need of some inspiration, check out our list of some of the most popular rums (both white and dark) below. And, when you have decided on the ones that sound best, be sure to order on Saucey for quick and easy delivery!


  • Bacardi is one of the most classic rums available. Everyone knows about it. It is a well-made rum at a great price point. Bacardi is filtered through charcoal and then aged in white oak for a clean, smooth rum that’s 80 proof. 
  • Malibu is synonymous with beach vacations and spring break. This rum is notorious for its delicious coconut flavor that completes any tropical beverage, such as frozen daiquiris. Made in Barbados, Malibu is 42 proof. 
  • The Real McCoy is another great Barbados rum that is aged for three years. It is made in small batches, and it is single-distilled. Known for being a smooth rum, it has notes of citrus, wood, and florals.  


  • Captain Morgan is an iconic rum brand. Rum drinkers around the world love to recreate the pirate’s pose on the front of the bottle. This is a Caribbean-made rum with a secret blend of spices paired with hints of vanilla and caramel. 
  • The Kraken is a dark, black rum. Another great Caribbean-made rum, this one packs a punch at 94 proof. Its mix of spices is blended with coffee, caramel, and toffee notes for a unique flavor.  
  • Plantation is an 80 proof rum from Barbados that is aged for five years. It is infused with flambeed banana, coconut, and hints of dried fruit that makes for a truly enjoyable drinking experience. 

What are some classic rum cocktails?

Now that you know the history of rum and the difference between light and dark color variations, it is time to get to the fun stuff: cocktails. While there are definitely rums out there that are made to be sipped on their own, most rums are meant to be enjoyed mixed into your drink of choice. 

Whether you want something tropical and fruity or dark and heavy, there are tons of rum cocktails for you to enjoy. Below, some classic cocktail recipes for both white and dark. 

  • Daiquiri (the classic kind, not the slushie version): You might think of getting a frozen daiquiri while on vacation, but the original recipe is great for parties or to order at a cocktail bar. You need white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake, strain, and serve the mixture in a chilled glass. 
  • Dark ‘n’ Stormy: This is a Bermuda-born cocktail that is simple and easy to make. You need a dark rum and ginger beer. Pour that over ice and add a lime to garnish, and that’s it!
  • Mojito: Everybody loves a good mojito. It is such a versatile drink because you can infuse so many flavors into it, such as blackberry or blueberry. The original recipe calls for limes, sugar, mint leaves, white rum, and club soda. You muddle the mint leaves and limes before adding the rum and topping things off with the club soda. 
  • Mai Tai: A perfect drink for parties and poolside gatherings, this is a light and refreshing citrus drink. You need white rum, triple sec, lemon juice, lime juice, and amaretto. Add everything to a shaker with ice, and then shake and pour over ice to serve. Don’t forget the lemon and lime garnishes! 
  • Cable Car: A rum version of a martini cocktail. You will need spiced rum, lemon juice, curacao, and simple syrup. Shake everything with ice and then pour into a glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar. 


Rum has been around for hundreds of years in various parts of the world, with a history that spans 300 years in the United States. It originated in countries in the Caribbean, such as Barbados and Jamaica. In the U.S., it got its start in New England. 

Rum is a delicious distilled liquor made from molasses or sugarcane juice. Like many other liquors, it comes in light and dark variations. The difference between the two types is color and flavor, with the color of the rum changing with the aging process. 

There are so many fun and unique cocktails that can be made with either white or dark rum. When you decide on the type of rum you want to try or a cocktail recipe, make things easier on yourself and let Saucey deliver everything you need to make the perfect drink. 

Showing 5 comments
  • Sudhir

    Beautifully explain dark and white rum
    I am a regular Bacardi drinker since last
    40 yrs thanks for sharing This information

  • Ajay

    Dear Doug,
    Im left a little sad not seeing Old Monk rum and Hercules rum in this list. generations of Indians have literally started their drinking experience with these brands. Request you to try them and add them in your review. Btw I’m a big fan of Hercules with plain soda.

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