A Short and Sweet History of Rum

Rum is made from processed sugar cane. Sugar cane is a plant that was native to the islands Papua New Guinea in the Indian Ocean. Sugar cane made its way from its island origins and onto the boats of Asian traders. It was eventually sold throughout Europe, Africa and India. Sugar cane arrived in the Caribbean in 1493 with Christopher Columbus on one of his expeditions. The climate proved to be just right, and sugar cane became a huge crop in the Caribbean islands.

Rum began its history around the 17th century. Sugar cane production was in full swing, and workers would use molasses waste to make alcohol. Molasses was an unwanted product of the production of sugar cane. Today, manufacturers would refer to it as industrial waste. The only form that it was tolerable in was in the form of alcohol. The product featured a high alcohol content, and it was popular with the members of the British Navy. The British love for rum brought a regular naval presence to the area, and this benefited the region by having a de facto control over piracy.

Today’s rum is no longer just the product of industrial waste. The market has expanded well beyond British Naval fleets. Brands like Bacardi Cuba have a global presence as manufacturers of luxury alcohol. Rum is still an affordable drink at heart, especially compared to the processes used to make whiskey in the British Isles.

Today, rum comes in different types and forms. Light rum is a sweet type of rum that is ideal for use in cocktails. Its low flavor intensity means that it mixes well with other drinks. Gold rums, or amber rums, are left to age longer than light rum. This results in a darker color and a stronger flavor. Dark rum is aged in stronger barrels for a longer period of time than light or gold rum. When drinking dark rum, the consumer begins to get hints of spices and other ingredients. Spiced rum is a more rich and flavorful rum. When a consumer finds a quality spiced rum, they may pick up on hints of pepper, cinnamon, rosemary or other spices.

Rum has evolved from being a simple by-product to a booming industry. The smell of rum often reminds people of Caribbean vacations gone by. As time goes on, run will continue to be a distinct part of Caribbean history.

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