Rum vs. Whiskey: What’s the Difference?

Large social gatherings are not complete without alcoholic drinks. Two of the most popular alcoholic beverages one could easily remember are rum and whiskey.

The two are made from different base ingredients and are distilled differently, making their tastes also distinct from one another. Like most alcoholic drinks, both are made from the distillation of plant material. 

The primary difference between rum vs. whiskey is their plant source. Rum comes from sugar cane, while whiskey comes from fermented grains. Like many alcoholic drinks, these two are similar spirits and are one of the most in-demand alcoholic drinks. 

Rum vs. Whiskey – Understanding the Differences

Rum vs. Whiskey – Understanding the Differences

Comparing which is better will be a bit difficult since the two are made from different raw grains. It would be like comparing apples and oranges. However, the two beverages can be compared based on the following:

Rum vs. Whiskey: What is, Origin, Made of, Process

The origins of rum can be traced to the age of colonization. Sugarcane plantations enslaved people from the West Indies like the island of Barbados fermented molasses, producing “Rumbullion.”

Also called “kill-devil,” the alcoholic drink was later called rum. During the 18th century, British sailors eventually picked up the drink and distributed it, popularizing it.

Whiskey, on the other hand, comes from Ireland and Scotland. Historians believe monks taught the townspeople distilling techniques to produce medicinal alcohol for antibiotics.

Like other highly alcoholic beverages, whiskey was sometimes used as a wound disinfectant because of its ethanol content. During the 15th century, whiskey became an enjoyable drink.

Rum vs. Whiskey: Taste

While both have a strong alcoholic taste, there are remarkable taste differences between them as they are sourced from different materials. Whiskey relies more on added herbs and spices to enhance its flavor. It is also more aromatic compared to rum. On the other hand, rum is carefully aged and generally tastes sweeter and warmer.

Rum vs. Whiskey: Calories

Spirits like rum and whiskey (including derivative bourbon drinks) have more or less the same amount of calories (97 calories) per standard drink. When compared on a mass basis, whiskey has slightly more calories than rum. 

Rum vs. Whiskey: Sugar Content

Distilled spirits like gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey generally do not have sugar content unless added by manufacturers.

Rum vs. Whiskey: Carbs

Because distillation removes all forms of sugar, distilled spirits such as gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey also do not contain carbohydrates. 

Rum vs. Whiskey: Hangover

While hangovers can be caused by various factors, including the drinker’s bodily reaction to alcohol, some studies have compared the hangover effects of rum and whiskey. 

Studies have shown that other byproducts instead of ethanol are produced during the distillation process. These “congeners,” like methanol, are linked to hangover symptoms. Unfortunately, whiskey is high in congeners compared to rum. 

Rum vs. Whiskey: Alcohol Content

Both rum and whiskey have high alcohol content at an average of 80 proof. This means both rum and whiskey have 40% alcohol by volume (ABV). However, some whiskeys may go beyond 40% and could reach up to 60% ABV. 

Is Rum Healthier than Whiskey?

Both have variations in health benefits. Rum has antiseptic properties and has been used, especially in remote areas, to treat the common cold.

Some people believe that whiskey (in moderation) can help people trying to lose weight, but these are supported by anecdotal evidence only.

Rum vs. Whiskey: Price & Value

Rum is generally cheaper than whiskey, with some whiskey brands sold as high as 2000 USD per bottle. Sugarcane is easier to process to produce rum, unlike whiskey, which requires multiple distillation processes. 

Rum vs. Whiskey: Quick Comparison Table






Ireland and Scotland

Distillation Process

Distillation and Aging

Double Distillation

Made of


Fermented grains


$15 - $50

$20 or higher



Flavorful; varies


97 cal

97 cal




Sugar Content



Alcohol Content

80 proof (40 ABV)

80-120 proof (40-60 ABV)

Rum or Whiskey: Which is Better?

Rum or Whiskey: Which is Better

Rum is best served with other drinks, while whiskey can be enjoyed alone. Also, rum is generally cheaper, especially rum that is aged for short periods only.

Both drinks have different flavors and are both okay for the alcohol connoisseur. Putting together these factors, both rum and whiskey are good in their own ways.

Final Verdict

Both spirits have good qualities. So which is better? The answer to this question would depend on one’s tastes and preferences.

If one prefers an aged drink, go for rum. If the preference is a smooth and spice-induced taste, go for whiskey. For those sensitive to hangovers, rum would be the better choice. Either way, many people worldwide love these spirits.

Leave a Comment