As you drink your finest rum cocktail this weekend, have you ever thought about where it came from, and when it was first ‘invented’? Here’s an insight into all things Rum…
Sugar cane was first cultivated in New Guinea and fermented as early as -350BC in India, and was normally used for medical purposes.
The Rum Process
People first started producing sugar by crushing sugar cane, boiling the juices, and leaving the boiled syrup to cure. Viscous liquid (molasses) would then seep out of the pots, leaving the sugar behind. Hundreds of years ago, the molasses were seen as a waste product - and only slaves and livestock would eat it.
However, they soon discovered that they could mix it with the liquid skimmed off of cane juice during fermentation, creating a rum and molasses distillation starting point. Here’s where it all started…
1400’s - Increase in Rum Produce
Explorers opened up trade routes through explorations and discovered sugar cane, and wanted to distill the molasses. This required manpower and water, so they moved to hot countries - such as the Canary Islands - where they increased sugar cane productions with the help of slaves. Slave traders also liked rum, and used this as their preferred form of payment.
1600’s - Barbados was discovered!
Due to its perfect climate, explorers decided to bring in sugar cane to the country, where it soon became significant in the rum export industry. Whilst the poor drank the concoction straight, others mixed it with sugar, lime and other ingredients to make cocktails.
Mid/late 1600’s - Rums Popularity
Colonists moving back to New England soon realised that they missed the rum from the hot climate of Barbados. They soon had the idea to import rum instead of brandy, and it became a favourite drink of many. When times were tough and rum started to become expensive, they started importing molasses instead of the rum - this meant that they could distill it themselves. It soon became the most affordable alcohol on the market, and accounted for 80% of New England's exports.
However, England then tried to impose an import tax on molasses, which eventually led to the Sugar Act in 1764, meaning it was harder to import the rum.
When the war broke out, the supply of molasses was disrupted, which meant people turned to grain-based spirits and the rum popularity began a slow decline.
However, fast forward to today and rum is now getting its second chance - and is growing in popularity around the world. What’s more, there are now an abundance of flavoured rums on the market - catering for all taste buds. Are you surprised about where rum came from? Let us know your thoughts below!