We keep hearing rumours that rum is destined to become the ‘new gin’ so with that in mind we decided to look into the history of rum, one the worlds most popular drinks on #NationalRumDay. Here are six rum-derful facts you may not have known before!
1. Rum is made from sugarcane by-products – either molasses or sugarcane juice is fermented and distilled to produce a clear spirit. This is then aged in oak barrels according to the manufacturers specifications and recipe.
2. The primary ingredient sugarcane, is a grass of the genus Saccharum. Rums produced from fresh pressed sugarcane juice make up only 3% of all rums, whilst those produced using molasses account for the remaining 97%!
3. After Saccharum’s usefulness (and deliciousness!) was discovered, sugarcane went from being an unknown wild species of grass to the world’s largest cultivated crop.
4. Rum’s history is a chequered and often sad one and to talk of its wonders without acknowledging this would be remiss. As the popularity of rum increased in the 1600’s, more and more plantations were needed. These sugar plantations were supported by a slave-based economy, with people kept as slaves living in wretched conditions with no control over their own lives. Thankfully today’s rum manufacturers are acknowledged for their socially conscious approach.
5. It’s hard to think of rum without envisaging creaking ancient Tall Ships cutting their way across the Atlantic. Rum’s popularity even reached Royal Navy sailors who were supplied rum rations to their crew by the tot (about 70ml of 95.5% Rum!) each midday.
6. Sailing superstition meant glasses were never ‘clinked’ onboard the ship as the sound of ringing glass spelled death for a sailor, and worse the Devil himself would take two sailors if the ringing sound were stopped. Additionally the tot glasses were only washed on the outside as it was believed the lingering rum residue would serve to make the drink stronger. Whilst we no longer believe clinking glasses heralds death, should you be unfortunate enough to chip the rim of your Cumbria Crystal glasses we are often able to repair it – potentially saving you from an unpleasant fate!
Modern rum consumption is broken into two main camps with white or silver rums tending to be used for making cocktails and dark, golden or spiced rums being enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a mixer. We like ours aged, served over ice; poured from a cut crystal decanter into a beautiful hand-made Cumbria Crystal tumbler or alternatively whizzed up into an all singing all dancing Pina Colada. You can find the definitive recipe for this in our last blog here.