No one knows for sure where the word rum comes from, but we know the sweet spirit as we know it was already widespread around the 1650s. The rum trade in the Caribbean fuel stories of pirates and galleons, and that’s precisely the excitement you get from every sip of rum.
Interestingly, sugar cane is native to India and Southeast Asia, but back in the day, European traders found in their newly gained Caribbean colonies the perfect place to grow it. Rum has a dark history, though. Entire plantations produced sugar cheaply, thanks to African slaves. The thriving industry had a surplus of less desired molasses, sugar’s by-product, and the best way of making use of it was distilling it.
Sugar cane molasses, not the sugar itself, are the base for the caramel flavored brown spirit. Cuba, Guyana, Panama, Nicaragua, Barbados, Haiti and Jamaica, among others, are sources of incredibly varied rum styles. This diversity means there are no universal laws to make it. Age statements mean little when no international rules govern them, which is only one of the rum’s problems; quality varies a lot.
The best rums are undoubtedly well known and enjoyed worldwide despite their country of origin. Spiced rums are crown-pleasers. The Mojito, Daiquiri and the Rum and Coke are perhaps the easiest way of enjoying rum. Still, the spectrum’s high-end range includes remarkably contemplative spirits, sipping rum that can give any brown spirit a run for its money.