With the availability of a wide range of alcoholic drinks, it’s no doubt that a large population in the world enjoys a drink once in a while. Among the many options available include cognac, rum, whiskey, brandy, scotch, gin, vodka, wine, and tequila, just to name a few. While the base product in these drinks is alcohol, they differ based on the ingredients, preparation method and even places of origin. Lets take a look at the differences between brandy and rum.
What is Brandy?
Meaning burnt wine, this is a fermented alcoholic drink which has wine or fruit mash as the primary ingredient that is distilled and fermented through a series of processes. Although it was discovered accidentally through the preservation of wine for purposes of transport, preservation, and trading, it has remained a favorite for many people, especially as an after-dinner drink. Aged in wooden casks, brandy has an alcohol content of 35% to 60%, whereby the first distillation took place in the 16th century. The most popular brandy types in the world are Armagnac and cognac.
Brandy is produced in four stages namely:
- Crushing, fine cutting, and grinding of fruits
- Fermentation- This is best done with the addition of yeast
- Distillation- This involves the extraction of alcohol from the fermented product
- Aging- This is the development of the aroma and taste through storage into oak barrels
Brandy labels are based on the number of years it’s been aged and include:
- V.S. – Also known as Three Stars or the Very Special, this is brandy that has been aged for a 2-year timeframe in a cask.
- V.S.O.P- Also known as Five Stars or the Very Superior Old Pale, this is brandy that has been aged for a 4-year timeframe in a cask.
- X.O- Also known as Napoleon or Extra Old, this is brandy that has been aged for a 6-year timeframe in a cask.
- Hors d’âge – Also known as Beyond Age, this is brandy that has been aged for a 10-year timeframe in a cask.
What is Rum?
First distilled in the 17th century, this is an alcoholic drink that is made from fermented sugarcane juice through the process of fermentation and distillation. Although the production of rum is based on traditional styles, with production methods varying between distillers and locations, the alcohol content ranges between 37.5% and 80%. It is mainly produced in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The basic production process includes;
- Fermentation- This process initiates the production process with the use of the base product, be it sugarcane juice or molasses. Water and yeast are then added to initiate the fermentation process. The flavor of the rum, however, depends on the yeast used.
- Distillation- By use of column or pot stills, the distillation process produces congeners, such as acetone, methanol, and tannins which give aroma and taste to the rum.
- Aging- Aged for at least 1 year, this process determines the color of the final product whereby oak casks produce dark rum while stainless steel produces colorless rum.
- Blending- This is the final step which aims at producing a consistent flavor. The color gained during the production process is removed for light rums while extra ingredients are added to dark rums to attain the desired color.
Rum is graded according to the number of years aged, flavors added, alcohol content and the color, just to name a few. Some of them include:
- Premium rums- These have more flavors as a result of special production and aging
- Flavored rums- These are rums with added flavors such as citrus or orange.
- Gold rums- These are aged in wooden barrels
- Light rums- These are sweet and have little flavor
- Spiced rums- These are either caramelized or have added spices.
- Dark rums- These are aged for longer periods and have stronger flavors.
Similarities between Brandy and Rum
- Both are alcohol-based drinks
Differences between Brandy and Rum
Brandy is a fermented alcoholic drink which has wine or fruit mash as the primary ingredient that is distilled and fermented through a series of processes. On the other hand, rum is an alcoholic drink that is made from fermented sugarcane juice through the process of fermentation and distillation.
While the base product in brandy is wine or fruit mash, the base product in rum is fermented sugarcane juice.
While brandy has an alcohol content of 35% to 60%, rum has an alcohol content of 37.5% to 80%.
Brandy is graded into v.s., V.S.O.P, X.O and Hors d’âge. On the other hand, rum is graded into premium rums, flavored rums, gold rums, light rums, spiced rums, and dark rums.
While the first distillation of brandy took place in the 16th century, the first distillation of rum took place in the 17th century.
While brandy originated from ancient Greece and Rome, rum originated from the Caribbean.
Brandy is preferred as an after dinner drink while rum is preferred as an occasional drink.
Brandy vs. Rum: Comparison Table
Summary of Brandy vs. Rum
Brandy is a fermented alcoholic drink which has wine or fruit mash as the primary ingredient that is distilled and fermented through a series of processes. It has an alcohol content of 35% to 60%. On the other hand, rum is an alcoholic drink that is made from fermented sugarcane juice through the process of fermentation and distillation and has an ABV of 37.5% to 80%. While a drink once in a while is enjoyable, excessive consumption of alcohol is dangerous for human health. Alcoholic products should not be sold to minors as it is a criminal offense.