(*Note – this section is not examined and is for interest and extension only)
The Caribbean is the home of rum production, however, other sugarcane producing countries, like India and the Philippines, also make rum. Rums originated in the West Indies and are first mentioned in records from Barbados in about 1650. It was called “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” and by 1667 was simply called rum.
When we think of rum and its history, after the Caribbean, Pirates and the Navy are sometimes the next things that spring to mind, and certainly it was the drink and currency of the high seas. The links with the British Navy date back to 1655 when they captured Jamaica. Used as a bribe, rum started to replace brandy as protection against pirates and in 1687 the daily ration given to seaman was officially changed from brandy to rum.
By the late 17th century Caribbean rum was a thriving export trade and became part of the triangular trade where molasses was sent to New England to be distilled into rum. Rum was then shipped to West Africa and exchanged for slaves which in turn were sent to work on sugar plantations in the Caribbean.
During the 18th century, rum started to grow in popularity in the UK. The quality of rum continued to improve, the column still was introduced and used for making a lighter style of rum. Cuban rum in particular, capitalised on the opportunity that was prohibition. Many wealthy American’s unable to drink legally at home holidayed in Cuba, and enjoyed cocktails often served by American bar tenders made unemployed by prohibition. Prohibition also drove the illegal consumption of rum within America, and gave rise to the term “the real McCoy” after the smuggler William McCoy who provided branded rums to clients. Smugglers were known as “rum runners”