Rum vs. Vodka: What's the Difference?
It's not uncommon to find people confused about the difference between rum and vodka. After all, these two types of alcohol have a lot in common, but there are also some distinct differences between them. Let's look at these two liquors to see how they compare.
Rum Has a Distinctive Flavor
The first thing that sets rum apart from other types of liquor is what it tastes like—it has a distinctive flavor that can be described as fruity to spicy, depending on the type of rum you're drinking. This unique taste is because most rums are made with molasses or sugar cane juice as opposed to vodka.
Rum Categories Vary Geographically
There are different types of rum, each one categorized by its geographical region, as the production process varies from country to country.
Jamaican rum is darker and spicier, while Cuban rums tend to be lighter in color but more flavorful. Rums from Central America tend to have a fruity taste from aging in wooden barrels, while rums from the French West Indies are lighter and smoother.
Depending on where they're made, some types of rum will also be aged in different kinds of wood that give them their distinct flavor, like oak for bourbon. Another important difference between rum and vodka is that rum is only distilled once and isn't usually aged much, if at all.
Vodka is Made by Distilling Fermented Grain
Vodka can be made either by distilling fermented corn or potatoes twice (making it a "distilled spirit") or by fermenting molasses or sugar cane juice and then distilling it to make what's known as a "grain neutral spirit" or "grain vodka." The latter is used to make most vodkas you'll find on the shelf.
Different Proof Levels of Rum and Vodka
Both rum and vodka have different proof levels, which means they contain different amounts of alcohol by volume. You'll typically find vodka in 100-proof form, while rum is usually sold at 80 proof or higher. This means that vodka has a much more neutral flavor than rum and can be mixed with other ingredients without tasting like alcohol, making it great for cocktails.
Rum has an interesting history. It's often thought to be the oldest distilled spirit in existence, and there are many different types produced across the world with distinctly unique tastes. The most popular rum brands include Bacardi, Captain Morgan, or Sailor Jerry Rum.
Vodka can also come in various flavors, but it will typically have a more neutral taste than other liquors like whiskey or gin. One thing all vodka shares is its high proof level—this means you'll find 100% vodkas at their highest levels of alcohol content, while rum may only be 80%.
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