A liquor distilled from fermented sugarcane juice. Most of the world's rum comes from the Caribbean, though it's also made in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, the Philippines and the continental United States. Rum's production begins by extracting the juice from sugarcane, then boiling it until it's reduced to a thick syrup, which is clarified before being separated into crystallized sugar and molasses. The molasses is mixed with water and yeast, fermented, then distilled. Rum is oak-aged for 1 to 10 years, depending on the style, then bottled at anywhere from 80 to 151 proof. There are four basic styles of rum: light-bodied, medium-bodied, dark and spiced or aromatic. Light-bodied rums (also called white, light or silver) are typically aged for 6 to 12 months in uncharred oak barrels, a process that produces dry, colorless, faintly sweet potables. Medium-bodied rums (also called gold or amber) are richer flavored, deeper colored (from the addition of caramel and, sometimes, through longer aging) and mellower than light rums. They're also aged about three years; are aged for 4 to 10 years. Dark rums are typically aged for 5 to 7 years (some for decades) and are produced in pot stills. They have a full body and rich flavors, aromas and textures, and are often compared to fine cognacs. Jamaican rum is the eponymous term for dark rums from that country. Demerara rum is a dark, medium-bodied, very aromatic style produced in Guyana. It's typically bottled at extremely high (151) proofs. Spiced or aromatic rums have an exotic, aromatic quality from the addition of spices or other tropical flavorings. Flavored rums, typically made from light-bodied rums, are infused with the essence of ingredients, such as fruit or coconut. They're often bottled at less than 80 proof.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.