Battle of the Booze: Gin vs. Rum

Gin vs. Rum

When it comes to liquor, we like to think that we don’t play favorites. Whether it’s a cold pint of beer, a glass of red wine, or a shot of whiskey, we’re all down for a good time.

But let’s face it. Some booze just tastes better than others. In the case of gin vs. rum, they both have different flavor profiles that appeal to different people.

If you want to know the difference between these two liquors, here’s a quick look at both spirits in terms of their origins, production process, taste, and health benefits.


Both liquors had their heyday, becoming popular among nobles and tradesmen. The big difference between them is their roots: Gin originated in Europe, while most historians believe that rum hails from the Caribbean.


It is believed that gin was first produced in the middle ages by the Dutch. It was only when gin made its way to England that it had become a drink to be enjoyed by all. Because the English government allowed gin to be produced even without a license, gin became even more popular than brandy at that time.


Rum was first produced in the 17th century, when slaves at a sugarcane plantation in the Caribbean discovered that molasses could be fermented to produce alcohol. Because of rum’s unique flavor and aroma, demand for the alcohol quickly grew, and other sugar-producing countries got into the rum production business. This alcohol became so popular that rum became a form of currency in many colonies in the 18th century.


Gin vs Rum Production

Gin and rum may each have their own fascinating histories, but their production process is pretty much the same, with one remarkable difference.


Gin is made from fermented grain mesh (barley, rye, corn, and wheat) that has been distilled with juniper berries and other herbal ingredients that give it its clean taste and distinct aroma.

Usually, the alcohol is usually left to age or mature in making spirits; however, in the case of gin, this step is usually skipped. The result is a light-bodied liquor perfect for mixing with classic, fruity cocktails and making martinis.


Rum can be made from both molasses and pure sugarcane. It is produced all over the world, with Latin America and the Caribbean leading the pack.

Unlike other spirits, rum has no specific production method. It simply runs through the general process of distillation, fermentation, and aging.


Gin vs Rum Taste

​​​​For this section, we’ll be exploring their flavor profiles, as well as the varieties.


Today’s gin is typically flavored with different botanicals. It has a dry and herbal flavor that comes mainly from the juniper berries it’s made of.

Since gin can’t be classified by age, it’s primarily categorized based on the ingredients that were used in the distillation process. Here are the 5 distinct gin varieties that you can enjoy today.

  • London Dry Gin:This gin is the most popular and is widely produced around the world. It’s what most connoisseurs use as the benchmark when defining gin. Because if its dry and flowery characteristics, London dry gin is the best type for making martinis.
  • Old Tom Gin:Known as the gin of choice for most of the 19th century, Old Tom gin is the sweeter and more aromatic version of the London dry gin. These days, this gin is used extensively in classic cocktails that call for a hint of sweetness. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, you couldn’t find Old Tom gin in the United States as it was only exclusively available in the UK.
  • Plymouth Gin:This gin is famous for being produced by just one distillery in the world. This aromatic, full-bodied gin, known for its slightly fruity aftertaste, is produced by Coates & Co. in Plymouth, one of the oldest distilleries still in existence in England. Plymouth gin works best in cocktails that include fruits.
  • Genever:Also known as the Schiedam gin, the Genever is the original style of gin that the Dutch perfected. What sets this gin apart from its English counterparts is that it’s left to age in oak casks for a few years to get its signature sweet and aromatic flavor. While you can use this gin in cocktails, the Dutch are firm believers that if you want to enjoy the Genever, you need to drink it straight.
  • New Western Dry Gin:What many liquor experts refer to as the modern gin, the New Western Dry Gin is mostly produced by American craft distillers. As more distilleries look for other means to produce gin, distillers of the New Western Dry gin are experimenting with different ingredients aside from juniper to create bolder and more pronounced flavors.


Its flavor profile varies by regions where the sugar is grown and the method of distillation. But even though rum comes in many variations and grades, it generally falls under one of these 7 different types:

  • Light Rum:Also known as white or silver rum, light rum is generally sweet with very little flavor. Light rums are filtered right after the maturation stage to remove the color. Because of its mild flavor, it is usually mixed with fruit juices and other ingredients to create cocktails.
  • Dark Rum:Famous for its dark caramel color, dark rum often has a strong molasses flavor with caramel overtones. Dark rums are aged longer in charred barrels, giving them their unique color and potent flavor. This type of rum is what many chefs typically use in cooking and baking.
  • Flavored Rum:Infused with all sort of flavors like coconut, banana, mango, and pineapple, flavored rum is a popular choice among bartenders who like to mix tropical-themed drinks. Certain chemicals are often added to the rum during the fermentation and distillation stages to simulate the flavor of food.
  • Flavored Rum:Infused with all sort of flavors like coconut, banana, mango, and pineapple, flavored rum is a popular choice among bartenders who like to mix tropical-themed drinks. Certain chemicals are often added to the rum during the fermentation and distillation stages to simulate the flavor of food.
  • Gold Rum:Also known as amber rum, gold rum is aged in wooden barrels for a long period of time. Although it has more flavor than light rum, gold rum isn’t as strong as darker rums. As a medium-bodied rum, the best way to enjoy gold rum is to drink it straight with some ice.
  • Premium Rum:Premium rums are in a league of their own. Produced by select boutique brands, premium rums have more flavor and character compared to its mainstream counterparts. Because of the longer aging time in oak barrels, premium rums are best consumed straight for you to experience its full flavor.
  • Overproof Rum:With most rums having an alcoholic content of 80 proof, overproof rums can go as high as 160 proof. These rums can be classified as either navy strength (around 109 proof) or 151-rum (above 150 proof). Because of the intense flavor and high alcoholic content of overproof rums, they’re usually used in cocktails.

The Verdict

Both gin and rum have their plus points so at this point, we’re calling it a draw.

If you’re a born traditionalist, gin has a lot to offer you. Whether you like it in your martini or with some tonic, gin can show you a good time. The versatility of gin is one of the many reasons mixologists like to experiment with it.

On the other hand, rum is also a good choice for creating classics such as mojito, daiquiri, and mai tai. Taken alone, it can be sugary or spicy or a sweet mixture of both — sommeliers recommend sipping it slowly to fully enjoy the liquor’s hints of toasted sugar.

Health Benefits

When taken in moderate amounts and without mixers, both spirits offer a plethora of health benefits.


It’s a good source of antioxidants. Juniper berries are super foods loaded with antioxidants that help reverse free radical damage and fight signs of aging, such as wrinkles.

Juniper berries are also a good source of flavonoids, which help prevent heart disease and improve blood circulation.

A shot of gin contains around 97 calories, making it the ideal poison for the weight-conscious. Drink it straight if you want to avoid piling on the pounds.


It helps with heart health. Rum prevents blockages in the arteries, thereby reducing the risk and impact of a heart attack. It also aids in the production of HDL, which is considered good cholesterol.

It treats the common cold. Rum has antimicrobial properties, which help fight bacteria that cause colds.

It offers relief from cramping and muscle pain and promotes bone health, keeping osteoporosis and arthritis at bay.

The Verdict 

In this case, gin trumps rum. The positive effects of gin are more holistic than that of rum, and its source — juniper berries — offers a wider range of benefits.