"Bourbon fanciers, who often claim for their tipple the title of "America's spirit," drink one of the most regulated spirits known. To be labelled bourbon, it has to be made with a certain percentage of corn and aged in a certain kind of barrel. But excessive regulation is not the spirit of America. Unrestricted experimentation is. Rum embodies America's laissez-faire attitude. It is whatever it wants to be. There have never been strict guidelines for making it. There's no international oversight board, and its taste and production varies widely, leaving the market to sort out favourites. If sugarcane and its by-products are involved, you can call it rum. Rum is the melting pot of spirits—the only liquor available in clear, amber, or black variations."
And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis