Quite simply, dark rum is aged longer than traditionally clear or light rums. The dark color comes from the aging process in Oak Barrels. The longer the rum ages usually the darker the rum becomes. Similar to how a Blanco Tequila is young and as it goes through the aging process the Tequila gradually takes on a darker color. Hence why you see dark Reposados or Anejos.
Dark Rum has the potential to carry more robust and subtle flavors depending on the ingredients or length of time in the Oak Casket. The best dark rums often take on an almost whiskey like flavor. Bold yet soft and perfect for making craft cocktails.
What is Rum?
Before we dive deep into what Dark Rum, it's probably a good idea to explain what Rum is and where it comes from. Often when we think of Rum, we either think of Captain Jack Sparrow exclaiming "Where is the Rum???" before drunkenly stumbling around his ship. Or we think of a Rum floater on top our tropical drink as we sit in sand contemplating whether or not we have put on enough sunscreen.
Rum is an alcohol or liquor that is made from sugar cane. Traditionally sugar cane is found throughout the Caribbean or very southern United States. Rum, like other liquors, is slowly distilled and fermented, which leaves behind a tasty and sweet alcohol that is perfect for mixing cocktails as well as enjoying by the glass, depending on the quality.
Some rums are made from Cane Juice, which is an extract from sugar cane, while other rums and in fact the majority of rums today are distilled from Molasses. Molasses is the remnants of the sugar from the cane juice that is then turned into a liquor. The third possible option is to distill pure cane syrup and ferment it for a long period of time.
How Rum is Made
Rum like other spirits require extended fermentation process of the base ingredient. In this case, Sugar Cane byproducts. As mentioned, Cane Juice, Molasses, and Cane Syrup.
The Steps go as follows :
Sugar Cane Juice, Molasses gather together
Add Water & Yeast
Fermentation process generates a liquor (Oak Barrels for complex flavors)
What's the Difference Between Rum and Dark Rum?
While the difference between light and dark rum is clear. The difference between the traditional rum and dark rum generally is more subtle in both flavor profile as well as alcohol proof. In general, the longer a spirit is aged, the higher the proof of the liquor. Dark Rum is also often produced in charred oak barrels which leads to a black rum.
Golden or brown rums are often medium bodied and are not too intense for the pallet. Dark Rums are perfect for high end cocktails while light rum is better suited for generic mixed drinks, i.e Rum and Coke.
Often Dark Rums are spicier than their lighter counterparts but not be confused with a spiced rum. Which a specific type of rum all on its own.
Is Dark Rum the same as Black Rum?
It really falls to the eye of the beholder to differentiate Dark Rum and Black Rum. However, expect a black rum to contain sweet and floral flavors different than a full bodied Dark Rum. Traditionally a Black rum is used for baking, candy making, desserts etc. Sweet foods go great with a black rum.
Can I Substitute Dark Rum for White Rum?
Short answer, it depends. Dark rum is more suited for full bodied cocktails while a white or light rum is more suited for mixed drinks. Bacardi is famous for their white rum being mixed with Coke. In fact, I think many of us have had a painful headache from copious amounts of Bacardi and Coke.
Is Dark Rum Stronger than White?
Dark rum generally has a higher proof than White Rum. The aged rum creates more alcohol in the process similar to other types of liquor.
What is Dark Rum for?
Dark Rum is traditionally used for premium cocktail recipes or sipped on slowly. The caramel flavors combined with the sweet vanilla can create an exquisite drink or taste.