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What Is Honey Rum?

By C. Mitchell
Updated May 16, 2024
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Honey rum is an alcoholic beverage made from cane sugar that is flavored or mixed with honey. Commercial honey rum production is most common in the Canary Islands, where rum is believed to have originated. Rum is typically a very sweet drink to start with, but the addition of honey makes it smoother. Honey rum is usually served straight, often over ice, and is also very popular in cooking.

Different distillers have different means of preparing honey flavored rum, but most of the time, the sweetener is added as the alcohol ages. There are several different grades of rum, starting with light or white rum and ending with dark rum. The lightest rums have usually aged for the shortest amount of time and are usually filtered before production and sale. Honey light rums are rare.

Gold rum and spiced rum fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and make common bases for a honey addition. These are generally aged in wooden barrels for months or years at a time. The longer they age, the darker they become. Spiced rum is usually infused with certain outside flavors, particularly cinnamon, pepper, and herbs. In honey rum production, honey is usually added to the barrel at some point during this process. Depending on the quantity used, the honey can actually contribute to the rum’s golden flavor.

Dark rum has the strongest flavor of any variety. Honey can be added to this preparation, but is often all but overshadowed out by the strength of the drink. Most of the time, rum aged with honey is meant to carry a noticeable honey flavor. Dark rum is often too overpowering for honey to even register on a drinker's palate.

When properly balanced, honey rum has a rich and warm flavor. While some rum preparations are designed to be used as bases for other cocktails or drinks, honey rum is usually meant to be enjoyed just as it is. It is normally served chilled or over ice, sometimes with a citrus garnish.

Some home cooks and adventurous drinkers look for ways of making their own honey flavored rum. This is most commonly achieved by blending ordinary rum with different types of honey. Homemade honey rum is not usually as good to drink straight as is rum that has been specially aged, since the flavors do not usually have time to blend in a glass the way they do in a barrel. More often, this sort of rum is used in cocktails or in cooking.

Honey rum is often used in baking, particularly desserts, but is also popular in more savory meat and vegetable dishes. Rum is a common marinade, and can also be used in a number of cooking and braising recipes. Augmenting rum with honey can often perk up a dish’s sweetness, and can add complexity and a lingering rum flavor long after the alcohol has cooked off.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Jul 12, 2014

@Markerrag -- Rum doesn't taste terribly sweet because that quality is typically overpowered by the strong alcohol taste. Still, you do have a point. Alcohol is made when yeast eats flower and gives off alcohol as a byproduct. If rum was as sweet as some people think it should be because it is distilled from cane sugar, you would have a bottle of sugar water instead of alcohol.

Because rum does tend to be harsh, people will add things like honey and coconut to sweeten it up a bit.

By Markerrag — On Jul 12, 2014

I am not sure if I would describe rum as a sweet drink. It is, on the whole, fairly harsh straight unless it is mixed with something like honey. The honey doesn't just smooth out the harsh edges. It makes the drink sweeter and a bit more complex, too (white rum, on its own, is quite straightforward in terms of flavor).

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