Home » The Origins of Rum: A Historical Perspective

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Ahoy, rum enthusiasts! Are you ready to embark on a journey to explore the fascinating history of one of the world’s most beloved spirits? The origin of rum has captivated taste buds and sparked curiosity for centuries, and its beginnings are just as intriguing as its unique flavor. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the captivating past of rum, from its early origins to its popularity.

Before you go, check out our ultimate guide to help you find the best rum for a Pina Colada.

Origins of Rum
Origins of Rum

Sugar, Molasses, and the Birth of Rum:

The story of rum begins in the sugarcane fields. Sugarcane, a tall, tropical grass native to Southeast Asia, was first brought to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century. The crop thrived with the Caribbean’s ideal climate, and the European colonizers soon established vast plantations to meet the growing demand for sugar.

As a byproduct of sugar production, molasses was considered a waste product and often discarded. However, it wasn’t long before creative plantation workers discovered that fermenting molasses would create a potent alcoholic beverage. They called this concoction “kill-devil” or “rumbullion,” which would eventually evolve into the word “rum.”

Rum’s Rise in Popularity:

The origins of rum can be traced to its affordability, accessibility, and long shelf life, which contributed to its popularity in the 17th century. Sailors and pirates alike adopted rum as their drink of choice, and it became an integral part of maritime culture. It’s said that pirates would mix rum with water, lime juice, and sugar to create the famous “grog” drink, which helped prevent scurvy and kept their spirits high.

Rum brands such as Bacardi, Bumbu, and Cruzan Aged Rum, which originates from St. Croix, have their roots in the Caribbean. Diplomatico rum, with its country of origin in Venezuela, also attests to the spirit’s widespread reach.

Rum’s reputation extended beyond the high seas, as it gained prominence in the British colonies. In the 18th century, the infamous “rum triangle” was established, a trade route between Africa, the Caribbean, and the American colonies. Ships carried enslaved people from Africa to the Caribbean, where they were traded for molasses. The molasses were then transported to the American colonies to be distilled into rum, then shipped back to Africa, perpetuating the brutal cycle of the transatlantic slave trade.

Rum’s Role in Revolution:

Rum played a significant part in American history, as it was the spirit of choice during the colonial era. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, the British imposing heavy taxes on molasses – a key ingredient in rum production – incited widespread anger among colonists. The following protests and boycotts contributed to the growing tension between Britain and its American colonies, ultimately leading to the Revolutionary War.

A Global Spirit:

By the 19th century, rum production had spread beyond the Caribbean, with distilleries popping up across the globe. This expansion gave rise to the diverse range of rum styles we know and love today, including dark, spiced, and flavored rums.

The origin of rum cake can be traced back to these times, as this delicious dessert became popular in the Caribbean and other rum-producing regions.

Rum remains a beloved spirit today, appreciated for its rich history and versatile flavor profile. From the humble origins of sugarcane production to its powerful influence on global trade and politics, rum has earned its place as one of the world’s most storied spirits.


As you sip your next glass of rum or mix up your favorite rum cocktail, take a moment to appreciate the long and storied journey.

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