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History of Rum


The Rum is distilled alcoholic liquor, obtained from the juice or molasses from the sugar cane. Usually it is a sub product from the elaboration of the sugar and includes all the light clear types, so typical in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the heavier and tastier as the Jamaican.

It became an important item from the Antilles (West Indians) the introduction of the sugar cane in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. Valued initially for the production of sugar, soon was discovered that there was other uses for the sugar cane. The thick maroon liquid (molasses) that remains after the extraction of the sugar could be fermented and distilled to produce a stimulating alcoholic drink.

ron-historia-3This drink is mentioned for the first time in documents from the Barbados in 1650.It was called “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” (a Devonshires word, England, that means a big commotion). On the French antilles colonies was called guildive (modification of “kill- devil”), later on, tafia, an African or Indian term

Back in 1667 was simply called “rum” where the Spanish word ron canes from and the French rhum. The first official mention of the word “rum” appears in an order form the General Governor of Jamaica dated the 8th of July of 1661ron-historia

The rum was an important economical factor during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was exported to Europe from the Antilles and used in the African slaves traffic, and in the fur trade with Indians of North America. The rum also was exported to the English colonies in America but the demand was so high that distilleries were established in New York and New England in the 17 century. From then on the imports were practically only molasses. In1763 there was 150 distilleries in New England, that were supplied basically from the French Antilles. About 80% of the production was consumed in the north America colonies and the rest was sent to Africa to be exchanged for slaves, ivory or gold.

ron-historia-2The British sailors, of every rank, received regularly rum rations from the 18 century untill1970.

The rum was the main liquor distilled in the United States during its first years as an independent country, and sometimes was obtained from, or mixed with, molasses of third category (“blackstrap”) it was called blackstrap; other times was mixed with cider, producing a drink called stonewall.

The rum consumption was notably increased during the 17th century. At the end of this century the word “rhum” was used to called alcoholic drinks elaborated with sugar cane. The popularity of the rum began to worry the French distilleries, which tried to protect the alcohol production in France, at the cost of the colonies. The 14th of January of 1713 a royal decree forbidden the sale of molasses and derivates in France. This prohibition lasted 50 years, time were the rum black market flourish


The eldest distillery that still is producing rum, is Mount Gay Distillery, in Barbados, it is been producing since1703.

At the end of 19th century the sugar cane prices collapsed, so, there was need to look for other markets. This was the origin of the idea to produce a new rum, the agricole rhum (o rhum habitant) from the French Antilles. In this case the alcohol was obtained through the distillation of the fermented sugar cane juice and not from the molasses, sub product of the sugar production, as in the industrial rhum.

This alcohol made from the fermented juice of the cane is called Cachaça in Brasil. It differs from the agricole rhum, specially, in the process of fermentation that is longer and sugar is added to the final product.

To drink pure rum is popular in the producer countries, but in most of the countries, the rum is consumed mixed with other drinks, being preferred the clear rums for cocktails such as daiquiri; the dark rums are used for cocktails such as “Rum Collins”. The rum it is also used to prepare some dessert sauces and other dishes. It is also use to give more taste to the tobaccois Mount Gay Distillery, in Barbados, it is been producing since 1703.