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Rum 101: what is overproof rum?


Most rums available for sale in the U.S. are 80 to 100 proof (40% to 50% alcohol by volume). Rums which contains higher concentrations of alcohol are often labeled as overproof.

Cruzan 151 is a popular
overproof rum from the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
Photo by Robert Burr.

Rums produced for popular consumption are distilled to remove non-alcohol components. The modern distillation process produces a spirit that is generally 160 to 190 proof alcohol. After aging and blending, most rums are diluted with water to reach the 80 proof standard.

Some rums, such as Sunset Very Strong Rum from St. Vincent are not diluted. Sunset VSR is bottled at the full cask strength of 169 proof.

U.S. regulations prevent rums over 155 proof from entering the U.S. under most circumstances, so many manufacturers produce rums in the 150 proof range, such as Bacardi 151, Cruzan 151, El Dorado 151 High Strength Rum, Bruddah Kimio's Da Bomb 155, Gosling's 151 and Matusalem 151 Red Flame.

One of the most popular overproof rums is Jamaica's Wray And Nephew White Overproof at 126 proof. This potent spirit is the most popular rum sold in Jamaica.

Overproof rums tend to be more popular in the Caribbean Islands where locals prefer a stronger drink. They're also used in cooking recipes that call for rum to be ignited in flame (flambé) or drinks that blend a very strong rum into their recipe.

Classic rum punches are often made with high-proof rum mixed with tropical juices (and sometimes flavored rums and liqueurs) to deliver a "punch" to those that enjoy them. 

For more info: The Gifted Rums Guide

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Rum Basics: what is rum?

Gifted Rums Guide 
Robert Burr
National Rum Examiner
Gifted Rums Guide
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