Rum was first produced in the Caribbean in the 17th century from the large amounts of sugarcane that easily grew there. By way of naval exploration and trade, rum”s popularity soon spread to Great Britain and North America, making rum a prosperous export by the late 17th century. In fact, rum became so popular that, when the British Royal Navy conquered Jamaica, they started giving sailors daily rations of rum, instead of brandy.
In the 17th century, it was most common to drink rum straight (by itself) or with a little lime. In the 18th century, watering down rum became popular, as it would limit the alcohol”s effect on sailors.
How to Make Rum
Rum is a sugarcane-based liquor that can be made from cane juice, concentrated cane juice or molasses (the byproduct of boiled cane juice.) Most rum is made from a mix of molasses, water and yeast that is left to ferment for 24 hours to make a light rum, or up to several weeks to make darker rums.
After being distilled, the rum is aged in barrels made of various materials, such as oak, which impacts the rum”s flavor. While rum is typically clear before undergoing the aging process, barrel aging and adding caramel gives it a brown color. White rums do not have caramel added for color and are intended to be clear. If aged in an oak barrel, white rum is strained to remove any color assumed during the aging process.
Types of Rum
Originally, all rums were dark and fairly unrefined. In the 19th century, the Spanish held a contest to find the best way to refine rum. The refinement process that won resulted in the creation of a much better quality, light rum. The winner of this contest went on to start Bacardi y Compaa.
Today, manufacturers around the world produce many different types of tasty rum. Most vary in the level of their spirit proof (how much alcohol the rum contains) and how long they have been aged in the barrel. In many countries, different rules exist as to the proof and aging time required for an alcohol to be considered rum.
While the Caribbean is the main hub for rum production, rum is also made in a few other countries, such as Australia and Canada. Europe is mainly a blender of rums imported from the Caribbean.
Some of the different types of rums include:
- dark rum (long aging time and strong flavor)
- flavored rum (commonly flavored with orange, mango or citrus)
- gold rum (aged to color)
- light rum (clear in color and light in flavor)
- overproof rum (up to 75 percent proof)
- spiced rum
- super-premium rum.
Popular brand name rums include Malibu Rum, Bacardi Rum and Captain Morgan rum. Another notable contender, Newfoundland Screech, or newfie screech rum, is a dark rum brought to Newfoundland by sailors returning from Jamaica in the 1700s.
Popular Rum Drinks and Cuisine
Rum”s distinct flavor can enhance a variety of food and cocktails. Some examples of foods and drinks that use rum as a significant ingredient are:
- bananas foster
- mulled cider
- rum balls
- rum cake
- rum punch.
Rum is also traditionally used to make a number of tropical drinks, such as daiquiris, Mai Tais and Pia Coladas. If you would like to make your own tasty rum cocktails, follow these recipes.
Hot Buttered Rum
- 2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 c. butter or margarine
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 6 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 c. rum
- whipped cream
- ground nutmeg for garnish.
- Combine all ingredients, except rum, cream and nutmeg in a slow cooker.
- Add two quarts of hot water. Stir well.
- Cover pot and cook on low for five hours.
- Add rum and stir.
- Serve with a scoop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg on top.
- 1 oz. white rum
- 1 oz. dark rum
- 1 oz. orange curaao or triple sec
- 1 oz. amaretto
- pineapple juice to fill glass
- cherry and lemon for garnish.
- In a pint glass filled with ice, add the white rum, orange curacao, amaretto and ? of the dark rum.
- Fill glass with pineapple juice.
- Float remaining ? oz. of dark rum on the top of the drink (to float liquor, pour it slowly, close to the top of the glass and over a spoon).
- Garnish with a cherry and lemon, if desired.
- 1 oz. white rum
- 1 oz. coconut cream
- 3 oz. pineapple juice
- soda water (or lemon-lime soda) to fill glass.
Blend all ingredients together in a rocks glass filled with ice. Serve and enjoy.