West Indian rum and spirit drinks based on rum are traditionally produced in three different styles: Spanish, English, and French. EU have in April 2019 introduced that rum can only be called rum if it have less than 20 grams sugar per liter, corresponding to 2% sugar in the final product. Among the 3 styles, it’s often the French style that has the smallest amount of sugar. The English and Spanish style, which account for 90% of production, have often more sugar than 20 grams per liter and is therefore labeled “spirit drink based on rum”. You can read more here.
Rum and spirit drinks based on rum in Spanish and English style are often made from molasses. This syrupy product from sugar production gives a deep and spicy taste of brown sugar and caramel. Because molasses is a remnant of sugar cane and sugar cane juice after the sugar is extracted, it contains a concentrated level of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium that were present in the sugar cane itself.
The English style, also known as sailors rum, originates from the British Virgin Islands and Antilles – e.g. the islands of Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. It is made on copper pot stills and is dark, spicy and medium sweet.
The Spanish style originates from the former Spanish colonies, including the later Danish West Indies. This style is lighter and more round in taste, which is why most people find it smoother and easier to drink. This is due to column distillation, which removes impurities and undesirable aromas. The addition of sugar or molasses makes blends with Spanish rum sweeter than other types because it softens the alcohol.
Both English and Spanish rum and spirit drinks based on rum are typically aged in barrels of American oak, offering notes of vanilla, structure and finesse to the taste.
As an additional flavoring, manufacturers often use casks that have previously been used to store sherry, port or dessert wines.
Rum in the French style is also called “rhum agricole” or “agricultural rum” and originates from the French colonies in the Caribbean – Martinique and Guadeloupe. Rhum agricole is a column distillate of fresh juice from sugar cane and extra sugar may not be added. This gives a dry, lighter and more acidic taste that resembles cognac. This is partly due to that it, like cognac, is stored in barrels of French oak that contains large amounts of tannins. The style is distinctly different from the Spanish and English variants, and for many people it can be difficult to identify as rum.