What is Rum?

The boring answer is this – it is the distillate of any fermentation derived from the sugar cane. This is a bit like saying wine is made from fermenting grapes; it’s technically true, but not particularly helpful in explaining the wide variety of outcomes possible.



Originally, Rum developed as a product of convenience. It got rid of surplus molasses and gave the sugar growing islands of the seventeenth century something to trade with. Fiery, potent, hot Rum filled local homes and taverns in Barbados before lining ship’s holds, destined to spread along the Atlantic trade routes of the 1700s.  In time, with help from barrel age and distillation refinements, it started to look and taste like the rum we know today. Golden brown, smooth yet spicy, rich yet refreshing.

It’s rum’s humility and egalitarianism that makes it special. Brandy and whiskey are full of masters; master distillers, master blenders and cellar masters. Whisky is crafted, Rum is made. Where Whisky is literally the distilled essence of beer and brandy the distilled essence of wine, Rum is, well, distilled from a waste product of the sugar industry.  But un-handcuffed from classist meddling, heavy-handed regulation or  expectation, rum was allowed to flourish. It has become a byword for freedom. To have a good time. To drink it how you want, when you want. In whatever cocktail you damn please. You drink it on holiday. You drink it to celebrate, lament or whatever else requires comfort. It’s this joy that has always drawn me back to Rum.  A drink that can be a fine and complex as any other spirit on the planet, but unburdened by expectation.

There is, of course, so much more to share about the story of rum. The fascinating origins, myriad of local variations; production, ageing and consumption differences throughout the world. I can’t wait to share more about this history and story of rum as this journey unfolds. 

The story of Rum is the story of the sugarcane. 

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