Rum can be found all over the world, but it originated in the Caribbean and was popularized in the 1600s in Barbados, via Britannica. With so many different countries producing rum, there are bound to be stylistic differences between countries and producers. Age statements on rum (like bourbon and other spirits) are supposed to indicate the age of the youngest spirit in the blend, but certain blending techniques (like the solera method) obscure a spirit’s true age. According to Liquor.com, the solera method separates batches of distillate into different barrels, then continuously adds to the barrels, so by the time a barrel is ready for bottling, it may be a blend of anything between a 20-year-old and two-year-old rum.
Additionally, there are so many other variables that affect a rum’s character, that judging solely by an age statement may be a moot point. For one, different countries have different rules and regulations; Puerto Rican spirits must be aged for at least three years to be called rum, and Martinique has designations that reflect French cognac labels (V.S., V.S.O.P., etc.), says Liquor.com. On top of that, simply the location of the aging can drastically impact the rum’s flavor given the changes in atmospheric pressure.