Rum retains more of the flavor of its original ingredients than most liquors, and nearly always has an underlying base flavor of sweet, toasted sugar. But depending on the fermentation, distillation, aging and blending processes, the flavor profiles of different types of rum can vary greatly; from distinctly vanilla and caramel-like, or having the sweetness and funk of overripe fruit, or can taste subtly earthy and grassy.
Some of the most well-known types of rum include: light, gold, dark, spiced, and premium aged rums. Light rum, also called white or silver rum, is usually aged around one year and filtered to remove any coloring. Mild in flavor and light-bodied, it is usually used in cocktails. Gold (also called pale) rums are usually aged longer and have a deeper color, sweetness and body compared with light rums. Dark rum (also called black rum) is aged even longer, which gives it its dark color and deep, rich flavor. Spiced or flavored rums are generally amber in color and can have all manner of ingredients added to it, such as cinnamon, vanilla, ginger root, citrus, tropical fruits, and even dairy (e.g. RumChata). They have a huge range of uses, from all manner of cocktails to baking to holiday-specific libations. Premium aged rums are aged in oak barrels for up to dozens of years, and often represent the finest products from a rum distillery. Exquisitely smooth, and with rich, complex flavor profiles, these rums are usually enjoyed neat or on the rocks, much like a fine cognac or brandy.
In the U.S., rum is often enjoyed in mixed drinks and cocktails. Rum tends to mix well with many types of ingredients and flavors, and depending on the type of rum as well as the cocktail components, can be a subtle base or feature as the star of the show.