Have you ever taken a moment and wondered what is the difference between your two favorite bottled spirits? What is the exact difference between rum and whiskey? Well let me tell you, you’re not alone.
While most consumers have their preference including the brand when it comes to alcohol, curiosity is common. One may not know what differentiates one spirit from another is.
There is always a raging debate about rum vs. whiskey.
Where there is a clear distinction between fans, do we really know what the fundamental differences are? Why do we prefer one over the other?
Let’s start with Whiskey. . .
Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from grain mash. Geographical conditions have to do a lot with what whiskey is made of. Typically whiskey can be made from barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn. Whiskey is often stored in barrels and left to age.
Whisky originates from the Gaelic word which reads ‘uisge beathe’, which translates as ‘water of life’. Later it was pronounced as ‘ uski’, which then turned into whisky!
Did you know 2% of whisky evaporates through the barrels per year? This is known as the angel’s share.
Centuries back alcohol was distilled from wine. The distillation started centuries ago, alcohol was originally used for medicinal purposes before it became a beverage. Whiskey first becomes popular as a beverage in Scotland.
Broadly speaking mainly there are two main types of whiskey –
- Malt whisky – Malt whisky is made primarily from malted barley. Malting requires the grain to be germinated. Germination requires the barley being placed in water for a certain amount of time.
- Grain whisky – It is made from different type of grains.
Whiskies can further be classified:
- Single malt whisky: Single malt whiskey is a product of a single distillery that utilizes only one type of malted grain but it is not from a single cask.
- Blended malt whisky: It is made from a blend of different malt whiskies from completely different distilleries.
- Blended whiskeys – A lot goes into blended whiskeys. It is a blend of malt and grain whiskies along with neutral spirits. It also has caramel and some flavoring sometimes.
- Cask strength – These whiskeys are directly bottled from the cask. These are mostly undiluted whiskeys. These whiskeys are very rare.
- Single cask whiskeys – Every bottle of a single barrel whiskey taken from an individual cask with the cask number clearly labeled on the bottle
Since whiskeys cannot be aged in bottles, it has to be aged in barrels. This means even if you keep the bottled whiskey for a long time, it will not become stronger in alcohol content or flavor. Whiskeys age best in charred oak barrels which gives it the golden brown and amber color. Whiskeys have added flavors sometimes.
Shifting the focus to an equally famous alcoholic beverage, Rum. . .
Another extremely popular amongst youth and the elderly alike is Rum. Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is primarily made from the by-products of sugarcane like molasses or sugarcane juices. Like most alcoholic beverages rum also goes through the entire process of distillation, fermentation, and aging. During the entire fermentation, process yeast is added to these byproducts which properly breaks down the sugar.
Rum strongly differs in taste according to geographies. The color and strength of rum changes from one brand to the other. Rum has to kept in wooden casks for at least a year to get its color. Caramel can also be added to rum as a part of the final product before it is bottled. You might not know but there are some commercial alcohol companies that produce colorless rum, they use stainless steel for the aging process.
How did the term “rum” originally originated is unclear but there have been speculations. A British etymologist, named Samuel Morewood in his 1824 wrote an essay where he states that the word ‘rum’ was originally a British slang term for “the best”. Others suggest that the word “rum” was actually taken from the last syllable of the Latin word, “saccharum”, which means “sugar”. Some also say that that it is actually derived from some of the popular British drinks of the time like ramboozle and rumfustian.
Rum can be of different types and variations –
- Light rums – Light rum more popularly known as white rum are light or clear in color. They are not very strong and possess very little flavor. White rum is mostly used for cocktails.
- Gold rums – Gold rums are more popularly known as amber rums. They are aged in proper charcoal barrels hand have a stronger flavor in comparison to white rums.
- Dark rums – As the name goes dark rums are usually darker in color which varies between red, black or brown. They are kept in charred barrels and are aged for a longer period of time. They have spices are caramel to get the color and flavor. Dark rums are stronger and sweeter in comparison to light and gold rums.
- Spiced rums: As suggested by the name itself spiced rums obtain their flavor from several spices and caramel. Some spices that are mostly used in these kinds of rums are rosemary, absinthe, pepper or cinnamon.
- Flavored rums – Flavoured rums are also rums that are additionally infused with several flavors. They have flavors like citrus, banana, coconut and many more.
- Premium rums: Premium rum are carefully aged with the highest-quality raw materials. They are highly priced in comparison to other rums. They are extremely rich flavor and aroma than other rum varieties.
While you may not be a liquor connoisseur already after reading this but this was a crash course on whiskey and rum to navigate your way through a conversation about spirits which is better.