They say curiosity and necessity make restless men go out and explore the seven oceans. Well, we don’t know about that, but it’s definitely Rum that fueled those countless seafarers once they were on their way.
Like a boozy Siren of the sea, Rum has an irresistible allure. And you best believe it’s caused plenty of shipwrecks in its time.
At ports of call all around the world, you’ll find this sweet nectar vying for your attention. For a taste, all you need is your trusty tumbler... and a sense of adventure.
The origin story
To really understand how we got from stalks of sugarcane to the ABV-wonder filling your glass, you gotta turn back the dial on your trusty time-traveling machine to the 17th century and hightail it to the Caribbean. You there? Nice. Now, see all those sprawling sugar plantations? They’ve got a serious problem. As a result of high-yield sugar production, they’ve created an oversupply of industrial waste in the form of molasses. But hell if the plantation owners knew what to do with it. Fortunately for everyone, the slaves did. Through a bit of ingenious tinkering and fermentation, they happened upon the spirit that makes a Mojito tick—Rum.
Today, you can find Rum just about anywhere sugarcane grows. While the Caribbean remains ground zero for the stuff, you can find it in far-flung locales like India and Brazil, with each country imparting a sense of terroir on their juice. You know what they say—variety is the spice of Rum.
In this box, we’re taking you around the world of Rum in way less than 80 days. We’ll start with the spicy Turquoise Bay Amber Rum from Mauritius, then hang a left to spend some time with the triple wood-aged Santos Dumont XO Rum in Brazil before ending up in the loving arms of the rich and decadent MOKO Panama Rum 20 YO in—you guessed it—Panama.
Keep that passport handy—it’s going to be a helluva trip. Salut!
1) If you’re bored, you’re definitely doing Rum wrong. There are a ton of styles and varieties out there that depend on source material (sugarcane or its by-products), aging and terroir. For example, ever heard of a little thing called Rhum Agricole? It’s distilled from pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses, and you’ll find a touch of it mixed into Turquoise Bay Amber Rum.
2) The difference between a dark and a light Rum all lies in how it’s aged. Dark Rums get their brown hue from the barrels and casks they’re fermented in. Steel drums are usually used to produce light Rums, hence the absence of color.
3) The pot still (pure single Rum) is the oldest, and arguably most authentic method of distillation, but the column still has been around since the early 1800s, which gives it just enough clout to be called a traditional distilling method.
4) August 16 is National Rum Day. You’ve already put in your PTO day at work, right? Just checking.
5) Rum is a spirit for all seasons. Throw it in with some simple syrup and lime and you’ve got a classic Daiquiri that’s perfect for summer sipping. But heat up some butter and sugar with your Rum of choice for a hot buttered Rum that can stand up to any polar vortex.
6) You’ll typically find Rum in the tropics, where sugarcane grows most readily. But all across the U.S. and Europe, an increasing amount of small, craft distillers are having molasses shipped to them for the purpose of producing some pretty damn good Rum.
7) Proof, overproof… where does it all mean? In order to make sure their gunpowder would still ignite in the case of Rum spillage, the British Royal Navy would mix a small amount of Rum and gunpowder and see if it would ignite and burn with a flame. If it did, then this was deemed ‘proof’ of alcohol. Going off with a bang meant it was ‘overproof.’ Hey, the more you know.
What's in the box
2 Dark Rums
Dog Dogson'sSmartass corner
A little bit of etymology; nobody really knows where the word Rum comes from. The most popular suggestions are Rum (the Romani word for 'potent'), Rumbullion (an uproar), Saccharum (sugar in Latin), and Rummer (a Dutch drinking glass).
Rum used to be accepted as a form of currency in Europe and Australia, a practice we should probably bring back into fashion.
Mount Gay Rum is the oldest existing Rum company in the World dating back to 1705. This is also the year Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Britain’s Parliament.
Common Rum classifications: White, Golden or Amber, Dark, Spiced, Añejo and Age-Dated Rums.
Next time you have a tipple of Rum you can say that you're tapping the Admiral. This intriguing phrase comes from the great Admiral Nelson who was killed in the battle of Trafalgar off of Spain. The story is that his body was preserved in Rum to be shipped back to England but, when the barrel arrived, some of the Rum was missing and said to have been siphoned off by some desperate or unknowing sailors. It's a great story but most likely false.
Rum (usually) comes from molasses, the sweet and syrupy residue of refining sugarcane into sugar. Molasses is over 50% sugar, but it also contains significant amounts of minerals and other trace elements, contributing to the final flavor.