Alcohol Education: 10 Mandatory Facts to Know About Rums
We love rum. We believe the sugarcane-based spirit is perfect when it’s un-aged but is only made better with age (or the addition of spices). We spend the warmer months sipping on daiquiris, mojitos, and any number of mai tais.
If you’ve ever seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you might have noticed Captain Jack Sparrow’s affinity for rum. Whenever possible, the mumbling outlaw pirate grabs the closest bottle and downs it as quickly as he can. There’s a reason rum and pirating go hand in hand. And if it’s good enough for pirates, it’s good enough for us.
Even in the contemporary world, most of the well-known rum distilleries are located in places like Puerto Rico, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados. That’s just one of the most exciting, fun, and wacky rum-based facts we’re sharing with you today. Check them all out below.
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The word 'rum' comes from Latin.
While the official explanation is still a mystery, it’s believed that the word “rum” came from shortening the Latin word for sugar (saccharum). We don't really care. We just want to drink it. It could be called "sac" and we'd still like it.
All rum starts as a clear spirit.
Just like whiskey, right after the distillation process, rum is clear. This is referred to as white rum. If you add this un-aged rum to an oak barrel and age it, it becomes gold rum. Dark rum is aged in charred oak barrels, similar to most whiskeys.
Rum was the first distilled spirit.
Rum can trace its roots to the early 1600s in the Caribbean, making it the first ever spirit to be distilled and manufactured for consumption. This was when plantation slaves realized that molasses could be distilled into a spirit.
Rum was once used as a shampoo.
You might have heard about the health benefits of washing your hair with beer. But, in the 1800s, many people washed their hair with rum because they believed the ingredients would help strengthen their roots and keep their hair vibrant.
Rum was used to pickle an admiral.
When Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson died, the crew preserved his body by putting it into a rum barrel. A very gross rumor says the sailors drilled a hole in the barrel and drank some of the rum before the body finally arrived in England.
Rum is made all over, but most of it is made in the Caribbean.
While rum is made in the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, South America, and even India, more than 80 percent of the world’s rum is made in the Caribbean.
The oldest distillery is in Barbados.
Still one of the most popular rums in the world, Mount Gay Distilleries of Barbados was founded in 1703. This makes it the oldest commercial rum distillery in the world. It began production more than 70 years before the formation of the United States.
British sailors were given a ration of rum until 1970.
From 1850 until it was abolished in 1970, British sailors were given a daily tot of 95.5 proof rum. Depending on your rank, it was diluted with water to varying degrees. This is why brands now make “navy strength” rum. Modern-day navy strength rum clocks in around 114 proof.
The date Britain stopped giving sailors rum has a name.
July 31, 1970, is known as “Black Tot Day” as it was the date the Royal Navy finally stopped giving daily rum rations to its sailors. It was (and still is) obviously a big deal to those serving in the military.
Captain Morgan really was a pirate.
The character of Captain Morgan is based on a real privateer named Henry Morgan who was born in Wales in 1635. He was famous for defending British interests as a pirate for hire. He even became a knight before dying in Jamaica in 1688.