Difference Between Rum and Brandy

Main Difference

The main difference between Rum and Brandy is that the rum is made from sugarcane juice or its by-products and brandy is made by distilling wine.

Rum vs. Brandy

The main difference between Rum and Brandy lies in the ingredients used in their products. Rum is an alcoholic beverage prepared from fermenting sugarcane juice and its byproducts (such as molasses). Brandy is a spirit that goes through the processes of distilling and fermenting. However, its primary ingredient is not sugarcane but wine. Rum normally has 37.5% to 80% alcohol content. Brandy normally has 35% to 60% alcohol content. Brandy is usually consumed as an after-dinner drink. Rum is usually consumed as an alcoholic beverage for all kinds of occasions. It is often served mixed with other drinks like coca-cola, unlike brandy. Both rum and brandy are available in different flavors. Rum can be used in cooking. Rum is used in cooking and also in medicinal purposes. Rum undergoes the processes of fermentation and distillation (as with all spirits). Rum was produced in the Caribbean and Latin America. The first distillation was in the 17th century, on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean. Rum has no defined production methods. It is just based on traditional styles that may vary between locations and distillers. The name of brandy comes from the Dutch brandewijn that means “burnt wine.” While brandy is often made by wine, it can also be produced by fermented fruit juices. Rum is made using molasses or sugarcane juice, and brandy is made using any fruit or wine. But the rum has had a more significant impact on the society because it was one time being used as currency.

Comparison Chart

RumBrandy
A beverage made from sugarcane juice or its by-productsA beverage made by distilling wine
Varieties
Golden rum, dark rum, white rum, etcCognac and Armagnac
First Distillation
17th century16th century
Kind of Drink
Occasional-drinkAfter dinner drink

What is Rum?

Rum is an alcoholic beverage that is either directly made from sugarcane juice or sugarcane byproducts (molasses or sugarcane juices). The preparation of rum is by process of fermentation, aging, and distillation. The distilled product is then usually aged in oak barrels. Rum differs in taste, color, and strength depending on the geographical region of the product. The origin of the term ‘rum’ is not clear. There are various possibilities of its origin. The British etymologist, Samuel Morewood, stated in his essay that the word ‘rum’ was a British slang from “the best.” Other possibilities are that the word derives from other popular British drinks of the time like bamboozle and rumfustian. The large production of rum is in the Caribbean and Latin America. The countries like Spain, Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and India, etc. also produce rum. Rum plays an important part in the culture and the history of the West Indies, Royal Navy, and the Maritimes.

Grades and Variations

  • Light rums: light or clear in color, also be referred to as white rum, have very little flavor, used in cocktails
  • Gold rums: known as amber rums, often aged in charred white oak barrels, have a stronger flavor
  • Dark rums: darker in color, aged for a longer period in heavily charred barrels, have a hint of caramel and spices to adjust the color and flavoring, stronger and sweeter
  • Spiced rums: obtain their flavor from spices or caramel, dark in color, may have spices such as cinnamon, rosemary, absinthe/aniseed, or pepper
  • Flavored rums: infused with additional flavors such as banana, coconut, citrus, etc
  • Overproof rums: higher in proof and ABV
  • Premium rums: high priced, carefully aged and produced, have more flavor and taste

What is Brandy?

Brandy is a type of alcoholic beverage that is produced by distilling wine. The name brandy comes from the Dutch ‘brandewijn’ that means “burnt wine.” Brandy is often made by wine. It is also produced by fermented fruit juices. It mainly contains 70 – 120 proof. Brandy is aged in wooden casks. Sometimes caramel coloring is added to brandy to reproduce the effect of aging. Some brandies are made by using both coloring and aging processes. Brandy is a short term for Brandywine. It is a spirit that is distilled from grapes, wine, and other fruit juices. Brandy is more commonly considered as an after-dinner drink. It can contain alcohol by the volume (ABV) between 35% and 60%. The origin of brandy dates back to the development of distillation to ancient Greece and Rome. However, modern brandy dates back to the 12th century. Brandy may also be used to refer to the spirit made from the pomace and other fermented fruit. Some of the most known brandies are Cognac and Armagnac. If brandy is made from any other fruit than grapes, it is labeled as ‘fruit spirit,’ ‘fruit brand,’ or the name of the fruit is mentioned on the bottle. The regulations for the production and labeling of brandy differ depending on the jurisdiction.

Brandy Labels

  • S.– (Very Special) or ‘Three Stars,’ aged for two years in a cask
  • S.O.P.– (‘Very Superior Old Pale’) or ‘Five Stars,’ aged for at least four years in a cask
  • XO– (‘Extra Old’) or Napoleon, aged for at least six years in a cask
  • Hors d’âge– (‘Beyond Age’), formally equal to XO for Cognac, but Armagnac, at least ten years old

Key Differences

  1. Rum is an alcoholic beverage prepared from fermenting sugarcane juice and its byproducts, whereas brandy is a spirit that is made by distilling wine.
  2. Rum normally has 37.5% to 80% alcohol content on the flip side brandy normally has 35% to 60% alcohol content.
  3. Brandy is commonly consumed as an after dinner-drink conversely rum is usually consumed as an alcoholic beverage for all kinds of occasions.
  4. Rum is made using molasses or sugarcane juice while brandy is made using any fruit or wine.

Conclusion

Rum and Brandy are the two types of drinks. They are different from each other in their ingredients and processes.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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