When you say the word Rum, I think of pirates. It’s easy to see why that association exists. In almost every narrative, whether it be a book, a movie, or on Television they always have pirates drinking rum. Here’s a line that almost everyone will get.
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest—
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
– From Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island
This was made popular by the book of course, but there was also the movie “Return To Treasure Island” (1954), The Television series “The Adventures Of Long John Silver” (1959), and most recently Disney’s megahit “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006). It’s a running theme with Pirates but there is so much more to a bottle of Rum than a little tune Pirates sing. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind the infamous drink.
A Little History On Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic drink made by fermenting, and then distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. Rum is usually aged in oak barrels. Most rums are produced in Caribbean and American countries, but also in other sugar producing countries.
The first record of Rum was according wikipedia “from the King of Cyprus, Peter I of Cyprus or Pierre I de Lusignan (9 October 1328 – 17 January 1369), brought rum with him as a gift for the other royal dignitaries at the Congress of Kraków, held in 1364. This is feasible given the position of Cyprus as a significant producer of sugar in the Middle Ages”.
It may come as a surprise that rum did not originate from the Caribbean like so many assume. There are other accounts of the Maylay (malaysian) people had something similar thousands of years before this. Marco Polo also accounted in the 14th century that he was offered a similar drink in what is now modern day Iran.
The biggest boom of rum, however, DID indeed come from the Caribbean in the 17th century. Plantation slaves found that molasses (a by product of sugar cane production), could be distilled into what we now know as Rum. The drink’s popularity spread to Colonial America shortly thereafter. It was even requested as the drink of choice for George Washington’s inauguration ceremony.
A declining English economy forced many in the Navy to find more lucrative ventures. According to wikipedia, “Rum’s association with piracy began with British privateers trading in the valuable commodity. As some of the privateers became pirates and buccaneers, their fondness for rum remained, the association between the two only being strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The association of rum with the Royal Navy began in 1655, when the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With the availability of domestically produced rum, the British changed the daily ration of liquor given to seamen from French brandy to rum.”
Different Styles Of Rum
Dark Rums – Brown, black, or red rums, are classes a grade darker than gold rums. They are usually made from caramelized sugar or molasses. They are generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. They commonly provide substance in rum drinks, as well as colour. In addition, dark rum is the type most commonly used in cooking.
Flavored Rums – These are infused with flavors of fruits, such as banana, mango, orange, pineapple, coconut, or lime. They mostly serve to flavor tropical drinks but are also often drunk neat or with ice. This infusion of flavors occurs after fermentation and distillation.
Gold Rum – Also called “amber” rum, are medium-bodied rums that are generally aged. These gain their dark colour from aging in wooden barrels (usually the charred, white oak barrels that are the byproduct of Bourbon whiskey). They have more flavor and are stronger-tasting than light rum.
Light Rum – Also referred to as “silver” or “white” rums, in general, have very little flavor aside from a general sweetness. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any colour.Their mild flavors make them popular for use in mixed drinks, as opposed to drinking them straight.
Spiced Rum – These rums obtain their flavors by the addition of spices. Most are darker in colour, and based on gold rums. Among the spices added are cinnamon, rosemary, aniseed, pepper, cloves, and cardamom.
The World’s Most Expensive Rums
Ron Bacardí de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII
Per pagalparrot.com: This was one more limited edition created by Bacardi for Y2K, hence its price of 2K. With only 1,000 bottles produced globally, only 200 was made available to the public. In a number crystal decanter that was hand blown and a walnut stopper, this rum comes with its own leather case, display stands and a small booklet outlining.
50-year-old Appleton Estate
Per popoptiq.com: The 50-year-old Appleton Estate was released in 2012 in honor of Jamaica’s 50th celebration of independence. As a limited edition, the rum is rare and has been aged in oak barrels for 50 years finally giving it a decadent flavor. The oak barrels were hand selected and today, the 50-year-old Appleton Estate is believed to be the oldest rum in the world to have gone up for sale.
J. Wray and Nephew 1940s Rum
Per thespiritbusiness.com: Created by Jamaican distiller J. Wray & Nephew, this expression, bottled in the 1940s, is believed to be the world’s most expensive single bottle of rum. It is thought to contain 25-year-old liquid that dates back to around 1915. When the expression went on display at RumFest in 2007, it was only one of four unopened bottles left in the world. Supplies near-vanished in the 1930s due to the boom in Mai Tai cocktails which were made using 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew rum.
Popular Drinks Made With Rum
- Shake, strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice.
- Garnish with pineapple leaf and vanilla bean.
- Finish with freshly grated nutmeg.
- Build all ingredients in shaking tin.
- Add ice, shake till cold.
- Double strain over fresh ice.
- Garnish and love.
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and shake well.
- Serve over crushed ice in a Collins glass.
- Garnish with half a lime shell/wheel and mint.