We have updated our Privacy and Cookie Notice to keep you informed where we may process your personal data. See more here or contact us for more information.

Where it began

Rum and the Caribbean

Rum is produced from sugar cane by-products and most historians agree that sugar cane distillates were being made in Asia and South America years before Rum’s birth in the Caribbean. Most individuals wouldn’t guess that sugar cane isn’t native to the Caribbean, it was brought over by European settlers in the 15th century. On Christopher Columbus’ 3rd voyage to the “new world” he brought 1200 seedlings of sugar cane and planted them on the island of Hispanola, present day the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The first distillation of Rum is argued between many Caribbean and South American countries, but Barbados has the oldest Rum distillery recorded, dating back to 1703.

Rum and America

Although the home of Rum is in the Caribbean, Rum was the national drink of America prior to the American Revolution. In 1764, the ruling English passed the Sugar Act, imposing taxes on sugar and molasses onto the colonies, which greatly affected American Rum distilleries’ profitability.

After the American Revolution, restrictions on trade with the British islands in the Caribbean led to an increased price. Combined with the development in American Whiskey, Rum began to lose popularity.

In 1919, prohibition in America was passed and alcohol was illegal. Whisky was one of the most widely ‘bootlegged’ liquors to make its way to American shores, but so too was Rum, which boosted Rum’s popularity once again.

Tropical cocktail culture

In 1937, Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt opened Don the Beachcomber’s in Hollywood, California, largely believed to be the first Polynesian cocktail bar.

Three years later, Vic Bergeron (later Trader Vic) opened Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California.

Ernest and Trader Vic are thought to be the two pioneers of the tropical cocktail revolution which involved the creation of rum-based exotic drinks, often served in a hand-carved mug featuring Polynesian motifs. Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt (who changed his name to "Don the Beachcomber") created the popular Zombie and Missionary’s Downfall cocktails and Trader Vic created the Scorpion and Fog Cutter cocktail - thought to be the first cocktail served in a ‘tropical mug’.

How it is made

Rum can only be produced by sugar cane by-products with molasses, sugar cane syrup, or the most popular, sugar cane juice.

Rum must be distilled in a sugar cane growing country, but can be aged anywhere.

Sugar cane (or watered-down molasses) is fermented, distilled and then sometimes aged. Light Rums are usually distilled in a continuous still while heavy Rums are usually distilled in a pot still. Color in Rums can come from aging in oak barrels or by adding caramel.

One of the most important parts of the make-up of Rum is its blending. A bottle of Rum can be the result of several different Rums skillfully blended together by a master blender. This process can take years of training and techniques are passed down from generation to generation to keep with tradition, heritage and to reinforce the brand identity of particular Rum companies.

Types of Rum

Light or White Rums - Tend to be un-aged and have a more neutral, dry character.

Golden Rums - Normally aged in “once used” or “fresh filled” American oak barrels and often have tropical fruit or oak aromas.

Dark Rums - Tend to be aged longer in barrels than lighter Rums and have extra caramel added for color. Dark Rums usually have dried fruit, toffee, spice and oak aromas.

Top tip: Rather than separate your rums by their color, you are best to categorize your Rums by country, as some Rum producing nations have their own definitions of what Rum is.

For example:

Key serves

Original CAPTAIN MORGAN & cola

1.5 oz. CAPTAIN MORGAN Original Spiced Rum

5 oz. cola

1 lime wedge

METHOD

Add all ingredients to an ice filled glass.

Stir to combine.

Garnish with a lime wedge.

Woahito Mojito

1.5 oz. CAPTAIN MORGAN White Rum

.5 oz. simple syrup

6 fresh mint leaves

Half lime cut into wedges

1 oz. club soda

Garnish with mint sprig

METHOD

Muddle the lime, mint leaves and simple syrup in a shaker.

Add CAPTAIN MORGAN White Rum and fill with ice. Shake well.

Pour into a glass and top with club soda.Add mint sprig for garnish.

Mai Tai

.5 oz. CAPTAIN MORGAN Original Spiced Rum

.5 oz. CAPTAIN MORGAN Coconut Rum

.5 oz. GRAND MARNIER (or orange liqueur)

.5 oz. lime juice

.5 oz. almond syrup

METHOD

Add CAPTAIN MORGAN Original Spiced Rum, CAPTAIN MORGAN Coconut Rum, GRAND MARNIER, lime juice and almond syrup into a shaker.

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass.

To help you boost your sales, download free CAPTAIN MORGAN menu and recipe cards.


Did you know?
A recent trend in the world of Rum has been Rum companies experimenting with a variation of wooden barrels to achieve a different type of finish to their Rums. Limousin oak or ex Cognac barrels are regularly used to give a dryer finish to a Rum, while dry Sherry barrels are used subtly to impart a medium “Sherry like” texture and feel to the finish of the Rum.

CHECK OUT THESE RUM BRANDS FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THEIR STYLE AND RANGE:

  • CAPTAIN MORGAN

    CAPTAIN MORGAN

    Classic Spiced and Dark Rums taking their name from the intrepid 17th century buccaneer. Today, Captain Morgan is one of the world's best-selling Rums.

  • MYERS'S RUM

    MYERS'S RUM

    Myers's Rum is 100 percent Jamaican Rum using only pure Jamaican molasses.

  • ZACAPA

    ZACAPA

    Zacapa is crafted at 7,500 feet above sea level in the Guatemalan highlands to develop subtle, spiced flavors of delicious, raisined fruit.

Join in the conversation and Tweet us at @diageobarac, share your photos on Instagram @diageobarac or post on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.

Sign up and become a member of Diageo Bar Academy today and unlock the latest industry news, trends and tips to keep your bar knowledge up to speed!
(*One standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol)