Classifying rum by colour

14 Mar. 2018
The colour of rum is associated with its ageing, as the colour traditionally comes from exposure to the barrels. So un-aged or little-aged rums are lighter in colour, and people call them ‘white rums’ or ‘silver’ or ‘plata’ (silver in Spanish). After a slightly longer sojourn in oak, they acquire a deeper, golden colour, so they’re called ‘gold’ rums. Longer aged references are said to be ‘dark’ rums.
What is white rum?

White rum is aguardiente that’s been briefly aged or is un-aged – typically between 0 and 3 years. With its lighter flavour white rum is ideal for fresh cocktails: Cuban rum for Daiquiris and Mojitos, while the ‘grassier’ agricoles are used in punches. Havana Club 3 años has a minimum of three years in the barrel and is charcoal-filtered to lighten the colour.

What is gold rum?

Gold rums are generally four to five years old. They can vary enormously. Cuban rum such as Havana Club Especial is still relatively light, but with great complexity from the barrels. Gold rums are also used in cocktails and long drinks such as the Cuba Libre.

What is dark rum?

A genuine dark rum is six years old and above. Rums such as HC7 are carefully selected and aged by maestros del ron cubano to be enjoyed neat or in sipping cocktails. Are dark rums always better than light rums? The brief answer is no, but read on to find out why this may be the case.

What’s wrong with rum classification by colour?

Colour classification of rums would be ideal were it not for two rather large hitches. Different oaks and charring will lead to different colouring and flavouring, so comparing two rums from different producers and styles will not show that one is older or better than another. In addition, some rums use colouring – caramel or e150. Many experts have denounced colour as a useful means of classification across the industry. However, in Cuba, blanco, dorado and oscuro are officially used terms in the country’s rum regulation. When it comes to Havana Club rums, customers can trust that dark rums have matured longer and have been selected for their finer, more complex profile.