9 Things You Didn't Know About Rum

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Happy International Rum Day! In honor of the legendary spirit, we thought it would be fun to learn a little more about what kept British sailors alive in the 1700s and tastes darn good in a Moscow Mule.

  1. Rum was the world’s first spirit to be manufactured and distilled for entertainment. It was invented in the 1620s when Caribbean sugarcane plantation slaves discovered that molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, could be fermented into alcohol.

  2. Although made all over the world, most of the rum production occurs in the Caribbean and Latin America. Keep your eyes peeled for rum from Scotland, Austria, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Philippines, Reunion Island, Mauritius, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, the United States, Canada, and Nepal though.

  3. Rum is known by many names. Including but not limited to: Nelson’s blood, kill-devil, demon water, pirate’s drink, navy neaters, Barbados water, grog, and rumbullion.

  4. Eighteenth century sailors were often paid in rum. Not only did it fight off scurvy when mixed with lime juice, but during the 18th century sailors enjoyed receiving it as part of their benefits package.

  5. In the 1800s, rum was a go-to beauty product known for its ability to clean hair and strengthen its roots. Even today people still occasionally use it.

  6. Rum was very popular in Colonial North America. The first distillery was established in 1664 on Staten Island, and rum production quickly became New England’s largest and most prosperous industry. Even George Washington was known for his infamous Mount Vernon eggnog, fortified with dark Jamaican rum.

  7. How the rum is aged determines the color. If aged in stainless steel, it remains clear but if aged in oak barrels it gains a darker hue. Like with wine, the portion of rum aged in barrels that evaporates over time is called the “Angel’s Share” or the portion taken by the angels above.

  8. To support increasing demands for sugar and rum, the triangular trade of rum, molasses and slaves was established between Africa, the Caribbean, and the colonies. Rum has even been a popular medium of economic exchange, used to fund enterprises such as slavery, organized crime, and even military insurgencies.

  9. More than 80 percent of the world’s rum sources originate in Puerto Rico. Much of the sugar cane used is grown there, and Bacardi houses the world’s largest rum distillery in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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  • Zoe Campos

    It’s interesting to know that benefit packages for sailors included bottles of rum. Reading the rich history that this alcoholic beverage had gone through made me curious enough about its taste. Maybe we can try buying a 5-year-aged rum and see if we’ll get to experience a burst of flavors from the fermentation process.


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