When you think of rum drinkers, you probably picture pirates and sailors getting drunk on the high seas, and for good reason. The British Royal Navy used to keep their crew hydrated with water, beer and, yes, rum, which was rationed to sailors daily up until 1970.
These days, rum is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. It is produced everywhere from the Caribbean to Europe to India. Meanwhile, the tiki drink craze refuses to die. The highly mixable spirit shows no signs of disappearing, with marketers pushing aged and sipping rums to a new group of craft spirit drinkers. American actor and comedian W.C. Fields once said, “All roads lead to rum,” and perhaps he was right.
The History of Rum
Before there was rum, there was sugarcane, first introduced to the Caribbean in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. Seeing the vast potential for profit — sugar was always a hot commodity — early sugarcane farmers rushed to harvest the crop and found themselves with a large surplus of molasses, a sticky liquid byproduct of sugar extraction. Not knowing what to do with the excess molasses, farmers would just dump it into the ocean — that is, until they learned that the sugarcane byproduct could be fermented and distilled into rum.