10 Things Travelers Need To Know About Rum

Any visit to the Caribbean is likely to include a few rum cocktails, but those with a bit more of an interest in the alcohol that fires up the fruit can pay a visit to one of the area’s many rum distilleries.

There they will learn about the process of making rum which is usually made from molasses, but is also made directly from sugar cane in some places – such as the French influenced islands.

The cane juice or molasses, known as the “wash” is fermented using yeast over a period which can range from 24 hours to several weeks – the longer the ferment, the fuller the rum.

It is then distilled, with all rums emerging from this process as a clear spirit. Lighter rums are produced in column stills, purified and blended, before being charcoal filtered and sometimes casked for a few months. Heavier rums are made using pot stills then aged in oak casks for long periods. Then there are the medium-bodied amber rums and the spiced rums – basically, there is a rum for everyone.

Here are some fun facts about every pirate’s favourite tipple.

1. Rum was first distilled in the Caribbean in the 1620s, but alcoholic drinks made from fermented sugar cane had been made in India and China long before that.
2. More than 80% of the world’s rum comes from the Caribbean, although the drink is produced in a number of other countries around the globe.

3. The world’s largest rum distillery is the Bacardi Distillery located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Irina Mos / Shutterstock.com
Irina Mos / Shutterstock.com
4. The oldest existing producer of rum is Mount Gay in Barbados which has been distilling the alcoholic drink since 1705.

5. In the 1800s, people thought that rum was beneficial for cleaning hair and strengthening its roots.

6. In 1655, the Royal Navy began the rum ration – a daily allocation of half a pint of rum to ward off scurvy which replaced the previous allowance of a gallon of beer. Although the health benefits more likely came from the lime served with the rum, this was only done away with in 1970.

7. It was believed at the time that Nelson’s body was brought back from the Battle of Trafalgar in a barrel of rum, although some now suggest that it was actually brandy. But the belief gave rise to the drink’s nickname of Nelson’s Blood.

8. In 1808, a revolt against William Bligh, the governor of Australia and the former captain of the HMS Bounty, was named the rum rebellion and was sparked by his interference in the rum trade.

9. Often paid in rum, eighteenth century sailors tested the spirit’s authenticity by mixing it with gunpowder — a mini-blast equated to a thumbs-up.

10. The first president of the United States, George Washington, was also fond of a tot of rum. The part-time mixologist used dark Jamaican rum in his popular eggnog recipe. When he ran for the Virginia State Legislature for the second time, he arranged for voters to be served 144 gallons of rum, punch, cider, wine and beer. He won by 68 votes.

For vacation rum drinks – the cuba libre and the pina colada both ranked super high in our informal GuideAdvisor office poll.  What’s your favorite rum bevvy when you’re on a getaway?

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