What is the difference between WHITE rum and a spiced rum?

What is the difference between WHITE rum and a spiced rum?

It’s one of those obvious things you sort of feel that you know – like the offside rule or whether pineapples grow in trees*. But actually you don’t. So today we are digging deep into that seemingly obvious question…  what is the difference between rum (aka white rum) and a spiced rum?



The first way of telling the difference between white rum and spiced is obvious. Just pour white rum into a clear glass and hold it up to the light. Examine its colour and its clarity. White rums should be clear and see-through, like clean water. And then, as with all our Rosemullion rums such as our honey rum, spiced rum, gold rum, chocolate rum, dark rum & navy rum. They will all have varying degrees of autumnal tints. Like any other top quality rum you buy, will be crystal clear. .

So our Rosemullion White Rum is fermented, distilled and aged in our Helford distillery. We have perfected our process to ensure that the white rum is supple and luxurious, with a smooth finish. The depth of flavour we have created reflects our long-sought and perfected fermentation; and distillation process which produces an excellent mixing rum. In fact judges at the International Wine & Spirit Competition deemed our Rosemullion White rum to possess ‘tropical fruit in abundance. Its elegant weight makes this rum perfect for cocktails.”



As well as colour difference between rum and spiced rum, the other glaringly obvious difference is the flavour. This is because while normal rum has a delicious full-bodied warm flavour of caramel, vanilla and oak that it is simple and friendly on the palate. Spiced rum will have been given a perhaps more complex flavour profile via the addition of sugars and spices giving it a punchier taste.

You could think of white rum as being a classic drink. Not so much verve perhaps, but chic and reliable in flavour, and sociable with mixers. An old friend you can count on to always taste just right. Although of course you get what you pay for in terms of quality of flavour. In comparison, the many varieties of spiced rum have more individuality. This means that you can experiment with flavour. To see whether a particular spiced rum’s flare and panache suits your taste buds. Spiced rum‘s will present notably different flavours, as well as quality. Maybe it’s perhaps fair to assert that spiced rum is the more ‘exciting’ choice if variety is your go-to kick.

Despite the term, spiced rum doesn’t necessarily have to be made from spices. It’s just an addition of anything botanical that adds flavour. Imagine yourself on your very own ‘spice island’ where you can use everything exotic to add something extra fabulous to your rum like bark, roots, fruits, seeds and leaves. These can be single flavours, but are usually applied in combinations. Many of the spices most commonly are cloves, cinnamon and cardamon. Aniseed, pepper, nutmeg, orange peel, cassia, ginger, orange peel and star anise are other go-to flavourings for spiced rum.

In the World Rum Awards our Rosemullion Spiced rum was deemed to have a:


“Nose of heavy citrus zest and oils, cloves, ginger and subtle spice. Complex start on the palate, with the orange chocolate finish dominant. Warming, spicy, interesting, and balanced.”



The other thing to take into account in terms of the difference between white rum and spiced rum is the production process. During the process whereby sugarcane is turned into white sugar one of the main waste-streams collected is molasses which is what we use here at Rosemullion Distillery, because molasses contains enough sugar to attract yeast. We ferment it and distil it into rum, and then age it in our oak barrels.

As any distiller will tell you, aging is an essential element of rum production because the longer it ages the more it impacts its flavour profile. White rum, aged in stainless steel barrels, ages more quickly than dark rum which ages in mature oak barrels but dark rum inevitably has a deeper, richer flavour than white as a result of the aging process and containers used. Rum can also be made darker depending on the amount of caramel used, and lighter if filtered.  Spiced rum needs aging for a shorter time than other rums because it is white rum with the spices and perhaps caramel then added which themselves impact the flavour and colour.



For those of you following a gluten free diet the good news is that most rums are gluten free. However, those of you with Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) or suspected IBS, and who are perhaps following a low FODMAP diet then we’re sorry folks… rum is high in fructose so should be avoided on the FODMAP diet. But – GOOD NEWS alert – you’re okay with gin and whisky.

Rosemullion distillers Liz and Andy hope that this information has helped you to navigate the differences between rum and spiced rum. It’s worth having gone into it in-depth we feel because it’s always just good to know things. And for those of you who find yourselves feeling caught out when a bartender asks you what kind of rum you like, don’t be afraid to ask the bartender what he recommends!

It is the bartender’s job is to know about the drinks they serve, to love their job and to want to make a drink that you are going to love. So it’s always worth asking about the rums that the bar you’re at stocks. There are some fantastic products out there to experiment with or never deviate from, including ours – Rosemullion Distillery – made by our family on the shores of the Helford Passage, in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Cornwall.

*End Note:

The offside rule stops players waiting around in the opposition’s half, near the opposition goal, for one of their teammates to just boot them the ball from afar so that they can kick it in. You are deemed in an offside position if any of your body – apart from hands and arms – are in the opponents’ half of the pitch and closer to the goal than both a) the ball and b) the second-to-last opponent – the last opponent (usually) being the goal-keeper.

Pineapples do not grow on trees. They grow from the ground.

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