Talking about Rum is with no doubt talking about one of the most popular and iconic spirits. It is produced from the sugar cane, and it is believed that it was first elaborated in the Caribbean during XVII century, although the “when”, “where”, and even its name origin is still creating controversy.
It is known by many names all around the world: Nelson’s Blood, Kill-devil, demon’s water, pirate’s drink, Barbados Water, Grog or Rumbullion. Many have theorized that this last name is the origin of the word “Rum”, it curiously means “Great tumult”.
Rum is obtained from the cane, usually through molasses or juice, which by distillation, turns sugar in to alcohol. There are infinities of varieties, but they could be grouped in those more light and clear, typical from Cuba, Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, and those more heavy and spiced, from Jamaica.
Since the very first moment Rum became a key product in the commerce between Europe and the American and Caribbean colony’s. It was very coveted for sailors, merchants, but even for pirates, and many times it was used as a tradable currency to buy other products. It was a basic need for sailors, especially during the long crossings by the sea, because the Rum was more enduring than water, and was used to hydrate the crew.
Nowadays, more than 80% of world production is elaborated in the Caribbean, and its main producer is Puerto Rico. Although in Caribbean countries it is usually drunk neat, or with lime juice, in the rest of the world it is mainly used to make mixes (Cuba Libre: which is made with Rum and Coca-Cola) or cocktails (Mojito, Piña Colada, Daiquiri or Long Island).
If you want to imagine how deeply the consumption of Rum for sailors was, notice this: until 1970, the British Navy delivered a daily ration of Rum to every marine, named “Tot”. In fact, the day it was suppressed was called “Black Tot day”, and even today it’s sadly remembered!