Quick Sips: Rums vary in taste dependent on variety, but all share some common flavor profiles. Molasses is generally the dominant taste along with a little caramel. Butterscotch, vanilla, and a burnt wood taste are also common elements of rum. ABV’s normally hover around 40% with the exception of the higher proof or “Navy Strength” rums which clock in at 57%.
Backstory: Rum is created by fermenting and distilling sugarcane or the plants products such as ice and molasses. Rhum Agricole (more on that later) is heavily regulated, but other rums are not. Consequently, distilleries exercise lots of freedom (and secrecy) as far as the other ingredients in their rums creating a wide range of flavors.
The early history of the beverage can be traced to the 16th century West Indies and the region still dominates rum production. In fact, one can generally ascertain the style of a rum based upon the European power that colonized the island of production. Former French colonies turn our Rhum Agricole, a far funkier and earthier rum than most. Spanish influenced islands tend to create a smoother, lighter rum like the “rons.” England’s former colonial holdings like Barbados and Jamaica tend to produce darker, molasses heavy rums.