1. Rum has been distilled for 400 years
Although alcoholic drinks have been made from sugar for hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years, rum as we know it was first distilled in the Caribbean in the 1620s.
2. Happy 316th birthday to Mount Gay!
The world-renowned Mount Gay distillery in Barbados has a deed for the company from 1703, making it the oldest commercial rum distillery around today.
3. “I’ll have two Strawberry Daiquiris and a Rum & Gunpowder.”
In the 1700s, sailors in the Royal Navy would sometimes be paid with rum. To check that the rum had not been watered down, they would mix it with gunpowder and set it on fire. If the rum caught fire, that was ‘proof’ that the rum was the right strength (at least 57% ABV). This is why spirit strength is still described using the term ‘proof’ and why ‘Navy Strength’ rums must be at least 57% ABV.
4. Rum has the nickname ‘Nelson’s Blood’…
In 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson was killed as he led the Royal Navy to victory against a French and Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. After his death, the story goes that Nelson’s body was stored in a cask of rum, and that thirsty sailors drilled holes into the cask and drained away the rum – which would have been mixed with Nelson’s blood.
5. Angels love rum too…
As rum ages in the cask, some of the liquid evaporates over time. This ‘missing’ liquid is known as the angels’ share. In parts of the Caribbean, the angels’ share is up to 7% of the cask’s contents every year. In cooler climates, it might be only 1 – 2%.
6. Rum – because you’re worth it…
For many years, rum has been thought by some to help maintain thick and healthy hair. The bad news is that this treatment requires rum to be poured on your scalp rather than on the rocks.
7. Fancy a bottle of 240-year-old rum?
In 2011, two employees at Harewood House in Leeds, England, were searching the wine cellar to make an inventory of its contents. Under a layer of dust and mould, they found a batch of rum bottled in 1780, making it the oldest rum still in existence. At auction in 2014, the last 16 bottles sold for £135,000 (US$ 175,000).
8. The world’s longest aged rum was distilled during World War 2
In 1999, Gordon and MacPhail bottled their 1941 Long Pond Jamaican rum, 58 years after it was distilled. As far as the World Rum Guide team can tell, that makes it the longest aged rum in the world.
9. How strong is the world’s strongest rum?
At 90% ABV, Suriname’s Mariënburg rum currently holds the honour of being the world’s strongest commercially-available rum. Its closest rival is Sunset Very Strong Rum, an 84.5% product of Saint Vincent.
10. Sugar cane is not native to the Caribbean
For many people, rum is most closely-associated with the Caribbean, but the sugar cane needed to make rum is not native to that region. In fact, sugar cane is originally from South East Asia, where for centuries it was used as animal feed. It was only introduced to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus in 1493 when he landed on Hispaniola, an island now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti.