Rum is a big, giant, looming category of spirits that's intimidating to newbies and more experienced drinkers alike. That's because the only thing that brings brands of rum together is that somewhere at some point sugar cane was involved. The thing that's distilled, how and where it's aged or not, and what you call it afterward are different depending on the place of origin/destination.
Last night on a discussion on Mixoloseum by Cocktailnerd, Matt of Rumdood was describing some of the different flavor profiles of molasses-based rum, grouping them into Jamaican, Bajan (Barbados), Demeraran (Guyana), and Latin American. At least I think the last category was Latin American- there are so many darn categories for rum I get lost.
Of your non-molasses-based rums, you have the two categories of cachaca and rhum agricole, each made from sugar cane syrup.
But oh, the outliers. There is 10 Cane, produced from fresh sugar cane but on Trinidad so it's not a rhum agricole. And Oronoco, made mostly from Brazilian sugar cane but it's labeled as rum not cachaca. And Zacapa, made in Guatemala from condensed sugar cane juice they're calling sugar cane honey. And then there are sugar-based spirits that are called vodka (if you distill it to high enough proof) or whiskey (if you're in India).
The good news is that I'm starting to understand all this, adding a new piece to the puzzle each week. I attended a Flor de Cana event last night lead by Ed Hamilton from Ministry of Rum. A couple weeks ago I went to a launch for Ron Zacapa. I've been to Martinique and Jamaica and Barbados to learn about rum.
And I still feel like an amateur. But at least I'm starting to get somewhere. Hang around here for another five years or so and you'll see I'll have it all down pat.