Is Rum Vegan? The Answer is Surprisingly Complex
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Is Rum Vegan? The Answer is Surprisingly Complex

Is Rum Vegan? The Answer is Surprisingly Complex

Although rum is a sugar based spirit, the answer to whether it is vegan is very nuanced. (Photo: RHJPhtotos/Shutterstock)

Is Rum Vegan? The simple answer should be yes. Rum is made from sugar cane and does not require any animals or animal products to produce. Nevertheless, there are ingredients and processes that some brands use that can make it not vegan. Additionally, some brands seek out vegan labeling while other brands do not.

These complexities are not exclusive to rum and the same vagueness occurs with wine, beer, whiskey, tequila and gin as well. With any alcohol, there are two aspects to consider, the ingredients as well as the processes. For a product to be considered vegan it should not contain any animal or animal by-products such as honey, dairy, bone or gelatin.

Veganism is rapidly gaining popularity as a lifestyle. There are even entire months of the year dedicated to experimenting with abstaining from all animal products like January and November. “Veganuary” or Vegan January has become the experimental time for people to learn more about veganism.   It can be difficult to navigate what is and what isn’t vegan products even with things that seem easy to pinpoint like rum.

Is Sugar Vegan?

Rum is made from sugar which is a plant. However, not all sugar is vegan and some brands use non-vegan sugar to produce their rums. This mostly relates to refined sugar. White sugar uses bone char to remove the color by filtering the sugar granules. Since bone char, sometimes referred to as natural carbon, is derived from animals it is no longer vegan-friendly.

Malibu rum indicates on its website that at least one of its sugar suppliers uses “a process that is not considered vegan-friendly.” Presumably, this relates to using bone char. 

Rhum Agricoles are made from freshly pressed sugar cane juice so it is far more likely to be a vegan-friendly spirit because the process does not require the use of animal products. 

Other Ingredients

Most alcohol is vegan because it is typically made from plants. Although the additional ingredients to a recipe can make the final product not entirely plant-based. 

Honey is sometimes used to flavor rum and is considered not to be vegan. Honey is most often found in spiced rums as an additive. For example, Siesta Key’s Spiced Rum adds honey for a bit of sweetness and therefore it is not vegan-friendly. Fortunately, Siesta Key clearly says they add honey on their website and on the bottle. 

Dairy is another common ingredient found with rums but that mostly applies to rum creams and liqueurs. Therefore, it’s best to avoid cream-based alcohols unless it explicitly says vegan. Vegan alternatives may use almond or coconut milks to achieve a creamy texture.  

What Processes Make Alcohol Non-Vegan?

One thing to watch out for is clarifying agents. Guinness and other breweries for a long time used isinglass (obtained from fish bladders) to clarify beer and to help the yeast settle. Another ingredient used in the alcohol clarification process includes the use of animal-based gelatin. These products are commonly enough found in beer products but are much less so in spirits. 

This does not appear to be a common practice used for rum production and many alcohol producers are moving away from animal products entirely because of movements like veganism. Distillation as a process clarifies the spirits without the need for clarifying agents.  

That being said some spirits are filtered to remove impurities or unwanted flavors and bone char can be used as the filter during this process. Although, there are vegan-friendly filters and Drake’s Organic uses coconut husks to filter their spirits.

The good news is most rum is vegan and labeling rules are becoming stricter in the US which should help people with dietary restrictions choose their spirits more conveniently.

Vegan-Friendly Rums


Drake’s Organic White (certified vegan)

budget rums

Read more here.

Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star 

Reviews here.

Plantation “Stiggins’ Fancy”

Reviews here.

Read Next:

Dark Rum vs Aged Rum: Is There a Difference?

What Is the Difference Between Rhum Agricole and Rum?

After Lawsuit, US Treasury Department Commits to Making Changes on Mandatory Alcohol Labeling

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.