The taste of rum is a sweet kiss from a far off land. There’s a little sand, salt, and sea in every bottle — reminders of the spirit’s long history with pirates, navies, and centuries of exploration (and brutal colonization). It’s the upcycled outcome of the sugar industry, discovered when African slaves were given the byproduct of sugar production — molasses. They used the dark gooey substance to ferment a mash and then distilled the product into a very strong spirit nicknamed Kill Devil or rum.
Over time, rum became so popular that the Royal Navy of Britain adopted it as their daily drink ration, a tradition that lasted from 1655 to 1970. Rum became the drink of the American colonies too, and a cornerstone of the American economy. The need for labor to grow and process the sugarcane fueled the Caribbean slave trade — a tragic twist of fate — with casks of rum serving as the currency to trade goods, services, and human lives.
Over the years, rum became more defined. Today we have light, dark, golden, overproof, spiced, and flavored rums. The light rums tend to be those that are either aged for an extremely short amount of time or aged in steel tanks so that they remain largely clear. There are also rums made from sugar cane juice directly. These are your cachaças, charanda, aguardientes, and rhum agricoles. Vital spirits all, but we’ll leave them for now.