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Black Rum vs Dark Rum: What’s The Difference?

Black Rum vs Dark Rum: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever asked what’s different between black rum vs dark rum? Let’s look at how they taste and what makes them the same or different in this easy guide.

The world of rum is vast and intriguing, with different types and flavors to explore. But what’s the difference between black rum vs dark rum? In this article, we will dive into their differences, uncovering their unique characteristics and shedding light on when to use one over the other.

But before we compare their differences, let’s first better understand rum in general.

Understanding Rum

Rum, one of the earliest known spirits, owes its existence to a simple production process. Its origin is believed to be traced back to ancient India and China, where sugarcane was first fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage. 

The modern version of rum, as we know it, began to take shape in the Caribbean in the 17th century. Plantations in the Caribbean and parts of the Americas began producing rum on a larger scale due to the abundance of sugarcane. 

The “rum triangle” trade, which involved the exchange of enslaved people, sugar, and rum between Rhode Island, Africa, and the West Indies, played a significant role in the growth of rum’s popularity in colonial America.

Today, various types of rum exist, and here are some of them:

  • Light (or white) rum. Clear and light, it’s aged briefly and then filtered. It’s used mainly in cocktails.
  • Gold (or amber) rum. Medium-bodied, it’s aged longer in wood, giving it a golden color and richer taste. It’s good for sipping or in cocktails.
  • Dark rum. Full-bodied and deeply colored from long aging, it has flavors like caramel and chocolate. It’s good for cooking or drinking straight.
  • Black rum. Darker than dark rum, it has molasses-like flavors. It has a strong taste and is less common in cocktails, but it’s good on its own.

Rum has now become a drink many people love and enjoy. Aside from that, it has become one of the main ingredients in many classic cocktails, such as Mojito—one of my favorites.

Black Rum: A Deep Dive

Black rum, often considered the darkest of the dark, boasts a rich flavor that makes it an easy choice for those who crave intense flavors. It’s aged longer than dark rum in charred oak barrels, giving it a robust character and a deep, ebony color.

How Is Black Rum Made?

Black rum came from sugarcane juice or molasses. The fermented liquid is distilled and then aged in heavily charred oak barrels.

Here is a more detailed look at the process of making black rum:

  • Sugarcane juice or molasses ferments with yeast. This process converts the sugar into alcohol.
  • The fermented liquid then gets distilled. This step separates the alcohol from the water and other impurities.
  • Then, the distilled rum gets transferred in heavily charred oak barrels to age until it is ready to be bottled and enjoyed.

Flavor profile

Black Rum has a deep, smoky flavor profile that comes from the charring of the oak barrels, giving it its distinctive flavor. Common flavor notes found in black rum encompass molasses, caramel, and spice. 

While the fermentation and distillation processes set the foundational flavors, the aging process in these barrels further refines and deepens these characteristics. This rum variety can be enjoyed on its own or incorporated into cocktails.

Popular cocktails that use black rum

  • Mai Tai. Fruity drink from tiki culture mixing black rum with citrus and nutty flavors.
  • Zombie. Strong tiki cocktail blending multiple rums with fruity juices, often colorful.
  • Dark & Stormy. Two-ingredient cocktail from Bermuda combining black rum and ginger beer.
  • Black Manhattan. Twist on the classic Manhattan, using black rum and vermouth, often garnished with a cherry.
  • Old Fashioned with black rum. Variation of the traditional Old Fashioned, introducing the rich flavors of black rum.

Popular black rum brands

  • Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. From Bermuda, known for the “Dark and Stormy” cocktail. It has a rich, molasses and caramel flavor.
  • Myer’s Dark Rum. A Jamaican rum with a robust molasses-forward taste and hints of dark chocolate.
  • Kraken Black Spiced Rum. A spiced rum with strong notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and clove, recognized by its unique bottle design.
  • Cruzan Black Strap Rum. From St. Croix, distinct for its heavy molasses flavor, similar to black licorice.
  • Plantation Black Cask Rum. Double-aged in the Caribbean and France, with flavors of tropical fruits and oak.

Dark Rum: A Deep Dive

Dark Rum is a type of rum aged for an extended period than light and gold rum in oak barrels, giving it a more complex flavor profile and a darker color.

Flavor profile

Dark Rum has a rich, complex flavor profile. It is typically full-bodied and has a smooth mouthfeel. Some of the flavors you might taste in it are vanilla, caramel, spice, and a woody taste called oak. People like to drink it on its own or mix it into fun drinks called cocktails. It gets its tasty flavors from being kept in wooden barrels for a long time.

How Is Dark Rum Made?

Dark Rum has an almost similar process to black rum. It gets fermented, distilled, and then the distilled rum ages in oak barrels. 

It’s aged for less time than black rum. For instance, Cruzen Aged Dark Rum sits two to four years in charred oak casks, while Myers Original Dark Rum is kept up to four years in white oak barrels after it’s made. This gives it an authentic Caribbean flavor.

Popular dark rum brands

  • Appleton Estate Rum. A famous Jamaican rum with rich flavors.
  • Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. A Bermudan rum known for its deep caramel taste.
  • Myer’s Dark Rum. From Jamaica, it has a strong molasses and chocolate flavor.
  • Mount Gay Rum. A smooth rum from Barbados, one of the oldest brands.
  • Ron Zacapa Rum. A sweet rum from Guatemala, aged in special barrels.

Popular cocktails that use dark rum

  • Manhattan. Usually made with whiskey and vermouth. Dark rum makes it deeper and sweeter.
  • Daiquiri. Rum with lime and sugar. Dark rum makes it taste richer.
  • Cuba Libre. Rum, cola, and lime. Dark rum gives it a stronger flavor.
  • Mai Tai. A fruity drink with dark rum and citrus flavors.
  • Old Fashioned. A sweet drink usually made with whiskey, but dark rum gives it a tropical twist.

Black Rum vs Dark Rum: The Differences

Now, let’s focus on our main topic: understanding the differences between black rum vs dark rum.


Black rum is bold and robust, with intense flavors. In contrast, dark rum offers a more balanced profile with hints of caramel, vanilla, and oak. If you’re seeking a strong flavor punch, opt for black rum. For a gentler taste, dark rum is your choice.


Black rum lives up to its name with a deep ebony hue, while dark rum, although still dark, can be a tad lighter. Dark rum can vary in color, ranging from black and brown to reddish tones. 

Production process

Black rum achieves its deep hue and pronounced flavor through extended aging, often spanning several years or even decades, in charred barrels. In contrast, dark rum typically undergoes a shorter aging process, usually ranging from two to seven years.


Can you use one instead of the other in your favorite cocktails? Yes, you can! 

But keep in mind, black rum packs a more potent punch in terms of flavor compared to dark rum. If you’re considering using Black Rum as a substitute, a good tip is to start with a smaller amount than the recipe calls for, and then adjust to taste.

The bottom line

Both black rum vs dark rum have unique charms. Black rum captivates with its intense flavors and striking appearance, while dark rum, with its balanced and approachable character, is great for mixing in drinks.

Whether you prefer the bold flavor of black rum or the balanced taste of dark rum, both have unique characteristics and uses. I hope this guide has illuminated your path in choosing between these two and perhaps even inspired you to explore both!

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