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What’s the Difference Between Dark and Light Rum?

Bottles of different types of rum sit on a countertop.

If you’re a rum lover, you’ve probably noticed that some bottles are labeled “light” while others are labeled “dark.” In some cases, you can taste a clear difference between the two… but other times,  they taste or even look extremely similar.

Is there actually a difference between light rum and dark rum?

The truth is, there’s no universal definition in the alcohol world for either light or dark rum, so it’s no surprise that the distinctions can be a bit blurry. However, in general, light rums are clear or pale in color with a milder flavor profile when compared to dark rum.

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Typically, light rum is popular for use in cocktails or mixed drinks when you want the flavor of rum to be present without overpowering other flavors. Dark rum tends to have a much richer, more complex flavor profile and a deeper color. For these reasons, dark rum is often enjoyed on its own, either neat or over ice. It is also commonly used in cocktail recipes where the rum plays a prominent, powerful role.

All of that being said, these rules aren’t always accurate since there is no clear definition of light or dark rum. Neither label means a rum has a higher quality or is better suited for a specific use. There is a lot of crossover in flavor, color, and uses between rums, so get ready to explore all the flavors if you want to find your favorite.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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