Purple Palate Blog

The Story of Rum

glass-of-rumIt’s a drink that people like to mix with soft drinks, place in cocktails or have a straight shot of.


What’s undeniable is the fact that rum is a much loved and highly-used spirit across the world. So what’s it’s story? Why is it associated with pirates? And what causes different colour variations of the drink?


A basic history of rum

Back in the 14th century Caribbean Islands, Spanish travellers were looking for a way to convert their massive sugarcane plantations into a simple form of transportable profit. The answer was to convert that sugarcane into rum, a liquor that people would happily pay for.


The Caribbean Islands were a perfect place for sugarcane to grow. The weather was hot and humid, meaning there was plenty of moisture – the most ideal climates you could really hope for with sugarcane. This meant that sugarcane grew quickly and covered a great deal of area, which meant no one was ever really out of the supplies necessary to create rum.


Because rum was so profitable and was being transported and sold on the open seas, it made it the perfect target for pirates. It is because of this that rum has become associated with pirates of old. It’s also an association that rum producers have embraced.


How rum is made

When sugarcane is cut and crushed, the leftover juice is heated until a resulting crystallised sugar emerges and is removed. A by-product known as molasses is then fermented to create a clear ‘rum’ spirit.


The fermentation period depends on the type of rum. Light rums take less than dark rums to complete the entire process, sometimes taking as little as 24 hours. Dark rum, on the other hand, can take a number of weeks before its process is over.


By default, rum is actually clear. The reason dark rum earns its notable colours is all dependent on what the rum is aged in – such as barrels that could have charred insides – and, often, the addition of caramel into the drink.

What’s your favourite rum? Let us know in the comments below.



* Image source: Kyle May

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