History of Rum

Rum has a history you could call ‘dark and stormy’ way before you perused a brightly coloured cocktail menu, in far flung destinations. Its roots are without a doubt tangled in a mix of colonialism, slavery, economic depression and crime. But, whilst all that is true, is has been at the heart of mixology and a great reminder of the explorations taken before us.

Sugarcane was a huge discovery in the early expeditions, introduced to other cultures along the way as part of the slavery and early migrant workers. Molasses, the syrupy by-product of sugar making was sold and used as a sweetener but equally the fermented molasses were enjoyed by slaves and poor whites. Now as with most of our food and drink of today, the exact history isn’t known, however it is believed at some point the fermented molasses was distilled and rum was born.

Looking back, you could say rum went ‘viral’ by today’s standards. In the mid 1700’s.  It’s noted that its availability eclipsed that of whisky, it then hit the water and the classic pirate connection made. The drink of those at sea, a pairing that saw rum become the drink of the British Royal Navy and during the 70’s was seen as a necessary cargo item. In fact (we like this one) in 1772 ‘ Dr James Lind wrote that ‘rum provides the best and quickest restorative which a sailor can have a sea’ medical approval for your tipple of choice? YES Please!
During prohibition, the speakeasies, the underground bars and password protected doorways made way to a vibrant cocktail offering with Rum lending itself to sweet and strong flavours. Fast forward to the 20th century and Cuba’s’ Fidel Castro confiscated the countries rum distilleries and a new base in Puerto Rico began for the Bacardi family.

There are four categories of rum- white rum, golden rum, dark rum and spiced rum. Most people will be familiar with a white rum, used for the majority of cocktails. It’s the youngest of all rums. The least amount of time required in the distilling process. Probably not your first choice if you are looking for a sip-able rum.  

Then we come to golden and dark rums. These guys have spent time in a barrel. Upwards of three years to make them the warm, enjoyable experience we prefer. Within the distillery the process is done in small batches, with good molasses in oak barrels- it makes all the difference to arrive at a stunning golden rum.

Then we have Spiced rum (the saviour of a distilling mistake). By definition, any rums that have flavours added after distillation are classed as a spiced rum.  It was use to disguise an error by adding strong, yet complimentary flavours, A little more sugar (which we all know Mary Poppins endorsed whole heartedly) and there you have the recipe of success. Spiced rums have a place in the family, even if it was a little dysfunctional to begin with.  

Rum, by its definition, needs to be made from a sugar cane by product, this can be either Molasses the traditional way or sugar cane syrup. Which upped the ante in commercial use in the 20th Century. Whilst it may be quicker and easier to use sugar cane syrup, our Rums are produced using molasses. The traditional and true way to produce and truly stunning rum.