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Rum from Guyana and Jamaica

Rum (probably derived from the English dialect word rumbullion 'revolt' , 'tumult') is an alcoholic drink . It is made from molasses of the sugar cane produced, rarely from fresh sugar cane juice. Modified products are rum blends and domestic rum . The minimum alcohol content is 37.5 percent by volume .

Rum is produced in the Caribbean , Central America , South America as well as the Philippines , Australia , Madagascar , Mauritius , India , Réunion , the Canary Islands , Cape Verde and in a few other countries.

In northern Germany and Scandinavia, the early popularity of rum is based on the intensive trading activities of the so-called Danish West India Fleet , which had its main port in the then Danish rum trading city of Flensburg in the 18th century and through trading ships rum from the Caribbean and especially from the Virgin Islands ( Danish West Indies ) imported to Europe.


Cane molasses
Sugar cane field
Fresh unprocessed sugar cane juice

In most cases, molasses is used as the starting product for rum . In contrast, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice is used as the raw material in the production of Rhum Agricole or Cachaça .

A mixture of molasses (for industrial rum) or chopped sugar cane, sugar cane juice and water results in the mash . For a subsequent fermentation , the mash is fermented and then gets an alcohol content of around 4% to 5%. This sugar wine is distilled . The distillate then has an alcohol content of 65% to 75%. When diluted with distilled water, you get white rum. The actual production of rum is now complete. In addition, they are often stored in used wooden barrels (such as those used in whiskey production) in order to give the rum its own flavor. To obtain better quality white rum, it is stored in stainless steel barrels for several months. If the rum is stored in oak barrels, the white rum loses alcohol, absorbs the flavors of the barrels and develops a slightly brownish color.

Brown rum is more aromatic than white and has a rather sweet note. A characteristic flavoring substance in rum is ethyl formate ( ethyl formate), which is also found in the aroma flavor . For dark rum without prolonged storage this also is caramel or caramel syrup added to terms to give it taste and color seems a long aging in wooden barrels.

Ready to use, the different types of rum are diluted with distilled water to usually 40%, 50% or 55% alcohol content. Before it is bottled, the rum is partially mixed with sugar in order to achieve a stronger sweetness.

industrial production

Don Bacardi and Felice Presto are considered to be the founders of modern rum production, who developed the process of producing white rum almost simultaneously around 1850 on the Caribbean islands of Cuba and Jamaica . The Presto Distillery in Jamaica, which was very well known until 1890 , was destroyed by locals, which meant the financial ruin of the small but well-known distillery. Later attempts by Presto's cousin, Gregory Nissen, to rebuild the distillery and to let it shine in its old splendor were unsuccessful. Bacardi, on the other hand, is still the world's largest producer of rum spirits today.


  • Original Rum - imported original rum, sold unchanged (up to 74%).
  • Real rum - like original rum, but here reduced to drinking strength (min. 37.5%) with water.
  • Overproof Rum - Rum with an alcohol content above 57.15%, is mainly used for mixing cocktails .
  • Blended Rum - Mixture of different original rums.
  • Rhum Agricole - Rum of so-called 'agricultural production', which is produced in the French Antilles ( Martinique , Guadeloupe ) and also in Haiti , in French Guiana and in the Indian Ocean on Réunion and Mauritius . It differs from normal rum primarily in that it is made from fresh sugar cane juice and only accounts for around 3% of total rum production.
  • Rum blend - mixture of rum and neutral industrial alcohol from other raw materials. In Germany, at least 5% of the alcohol in the finished product must come from rum.
  • Artificial rum , in Austria: Inländer rum - is made from rum alcohol from sugar beet and aroma with usually 38% one of the numerous brands. In Germany, the straw rum is synonymous with domestic rum with 60% and 80%.
  • Flavored rum - rum flavored in a suitable extraction process, at least 37.5% - with a lower alcohol content, referred to as "spirit" or "rum-based liqueur" (examples: Captain Morgan Spiced Gold or Bacardi Oak Heart ; example of real flavored rum: clement orange ) .
  • Rum flavor - contains no alcohol, is reminiscent of brown rum in smell and taste. It consists of carboxylic acid esters and other flavors.


In contrast to most other sugar cane brandies, good rum is characterized by long maturation in wooden barrels, similar to whiskey or cognac . The longer the distillate matures in the wooden barrel, the more rounded its aromatic taste appears. A side effect is the yellowish, then brown color that the initially colorless distillate takes on. However, don't let the color fool you. Many manufacturers subsequently color their rum to a greater or lesser extent with sugar couleur ( e.g. Bacardi Black ), allegedly to guarantee a constant color. The intention is rather to give the product, which is subsequently subsequently darkened in color, the appearance of longer maturation in wooden barrels. On the other hand, colorless “white” rum can also have matured in stainless steel barrels for a while (typically: 6–30 months). If matured in oak barrels, some manufacturers remove the color by filtering it.


  • Martinique rum : a 'Rhum Agricole' from the island of Martinique. For this French overseas department there is the decree of November 5, 1996, according to which a "Rhum Vieux Agricole" with Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) can be produced. The following quality levels are defined:
      • White rum (Rhum Agricole AOC blanc) must be stored in stainless steel barrels for at least 3 months in order to absorb oxygen and to homogenize.
      • AOC (rhum paille or rhum ambré) must be stored in oak barrels for at least 1 year.
      • Rum that has been stored for at least three years is called "old rum" (rhum vieux agricole). There are three levels of quality:
        • VO stored in oak barrels for at least 3 years
        • VSOP aged in oak barrels for at least 4 years
        • XO aged in oak barrels for at least 6 years.
There is also rum "hors d'age", which is usually stored for 10 years or more. A bottle of rum of this vintage can easily cost several 100 euros.
The various distilleries use barrels of different origins, partly new barrels, partly those in which Bourbon whiskey was matured in the USA or old Bordeaux and cognac barrels. This gives the rum from different distilleries different flavor notes.
  • Jamaica rum is characterized by a very strong, spicy taste that is sometimes perceived as spicy. Inferior qualities are almost not drinkable on their own because of this taste intensity and are usually mixed (blended) with water ( grog ) or other alcohol. Higher quality brandies are enjoyed in cocktails or on their own.
  • Flensburg rum blend - brown mixture of rum, water and neutral alcohol , which contains at least 5% of the alcohol contained in original rum. The alcohol content must be at least 37.5% (usually 40–42%). It is based on the tradition of old Flensburg rum trading houses (Flensburg belonged to Denmark's sphere of influence for a long time . Denmark's influence stems from the fact that the Danish King Christian I was elected Duke of Schleswig and Count of Holstein in 1460), which was imported from the Danish West Indies To blend Jamaica rum with monopoly alcohol and water to drink strength, as a high import duty was levied on imported spirits in the 18th century. The Jamaica rum was particularly suitable for this because of its intense taste. This rum blend, first used by Flensburg rum houses such as Pott , Balle, Hansen , Asmussen and Johannsen , is still common as a Jamaica rum blend at other German rum houses.
  • A brandy made from sugar beet used to be called " Czech rum ". After the EU -membership Czech Republic this drink is now Tuzemák instead of rum.


Development of the spirit

Rum originated in the 17th century as a waste product from sugar cane cultivation, the place of origin is not entirely certain. The British colony of Barbados is most often cited as the place of origin. Possible origins of rum production are also the Spanish colonies Hispaniola or Cuba , one of the French colonies in the Caribbean or the Portuguese colony on the east coast of Brazil. In the first half of the 17th century rum was found in all of these colonies. Very early on, rum was also exported in small quantities. One of the first reports of rum is a mention by the British sea captain John Josselyn, who reported in September 1639 of a dinner on a ship off the coast of what is now Maine, at which another captain toasted him with rum.

The drink was first mentioned in a document around 1650 as rumbullion (English roughly: 'great tumult') and on July 8, 1661 by the governor of Jamaica . Laws regulating the sale of locally made liquor have existed in Bermuda since 1653, Connecticut since 1654, and Massachusetts since 1657. At least the liquor made in Bermuda was very likely to be an alcohol made from sugar cane was. Already in 1667 this drink was called ron (Castilian) or rhum (French).

Advertising sign for the Mount Gay Destillery, the oldest rum distillery still in existence

The development of rum is closely linked to sugar cane cultivation. In the 17th century, sugar was such a valuable agricultural product that the wealth of the sugar-growing plantation owners on the small island of Barbados exceeded that of the other colonialists in North America many times over. Bridgetown , the capital of Barbados, was bigger and more affluent than Manhattan. Molasses was a by-product of the production of the sugar . The ratio of molasses to sugar varied with the manufacturing process, usually around one kilogram of molasses for every two kilograms of salable sugar. At the beginning of sugar cultivation, there was hardly any use for this by-product. Initially, most of the molasses was destroyed. Making alcohol from this waste product was one of the ways to recycle this byproduct of sugar production. As early as 1652, a visitor spoke of the fact that rum was being produced all over Barbados. For example, documents for the sale of a plantation mention four large cisterns for the storage of rum in 1658. Barbados also has the oldest rum distillery still in operation. Documents suggest that rum has been produced on the site of today's Mount Gay distillery since 1663. The existence of this distillery has been documented since February 20, 1703. In comparison, the oldest continuously operating Scottish distillery dates from the 1780s and the oldest registered US whiskey distillery from the 1860s. Distilleries were expensive to build, but the high profits from sugar growing allowed the plantation owners to invest in the latest technology to produce alcohol and thus turn molasses into a profitable product. In 1776, the economist Adam Smith wrote in his work The Wealth of Nations that a sugar grower could expect to cover his production costs by selling rum and molasses. The substantial proceeds from the sugar sales represented almost all of its net income.

Rum becomes an export good

There were first exports of rum as early as 1638. The estimated 4 million liters of rum that were produced in Barbados around 1655, however, were almost exclusively consumed on the island and neighboring colonies of European settlers. Even in 1698 the export to England was not even 1000 liters. The small amount exported to Europe may be related to the poor quality of the product. Visitors to the Caribbean consistently described the taste of the rums produced there as unpleasant in the first few decades. Gradually, however, a demand developed among the colonialists in mainland North America. By 1730, Barbados was already exporting more than 3 million liters there. The second most important exporter was Antigua with just under 1.1 million liters.

Rum on the North American continent

Around 1750, the Swedish naturalist Peter Kam noted that North American colonialists viewed rum as healthier than spirits made from grain or grapes. Rum from Barbados, Antigua, Montserrat and Grenada was particularly valued . Rum also played a major role in trade with the indigenous peoples of North America in the 18th century . An Indian agent responsible for the Choctaws estimated that rum was exchanged in four out of five cases when trading with this people living in what is now the US states of Mississippi , Alabama and Louisiana . A senior Indian agent in charge of relations with the Indian peoples in the southeast estimated that around 45,000 liters of rum landed with the Indians of the region every month. The increasing alcohol addiction had devastating consequences for the survivability of these peoples. Little Turtle , one of the most important Indian chiefs of his time, estimated at the beginning of the 19th century that 3,000 people of his people died as a result of alcohol and asked US President John Adams to ban the sale of rum to his people. Massachusetts had such laws as early as 1630, and by the beginning of the 18th century almost all states followed this legislation. This was seldom out of concern for the welfare of the Indian peoples: It was thought more likely that alcoholic Indians attacked settlers.

Rum also played a major role among the North American settlers from Europe. Beer and wine were sold far less than rum in the 18th century. The main distribution channels were the inns that were emerging everywhere. Rum was often drunk pure there, but was often extended with water. "Mimbo", a drink particularly popular in Pennsylvania, consisted of sugar, water and rum. If molasses was used instead of sugar for sweetening, the drink was called "Bimbo". Other recipes included using cinnamon, cloves, and mint, or mixing rum with beer. Lemon and lime juice were also commonly used.

Rum was increasingly distilled directly on the North American continent. Reports of a rum distillery in Providence , Rhode Island exist as early as 1684. It is estimated that around 50 percent of this spirit was no longer imported at the time of the American War of Independence . Instead, however, a large part of the molasses required was mainly transported from Jamaica to North America. In contrast to Barbados, no rum industry had established itself there. The plantation owners there, who had grown sugar cane over almost the entire area of ​​the island, had to import the necessary food. A trade began in which timber, livestock, dried fish and fresh food were transported south and the returning ships loaded molasses. Distilleries were created wherever molasses could be unloaded and stored. Boston became one of the most famous locations for rum due to the large merchant fleet that had its home port there.

Rum and piracy

Pirates carry barrels with rum ashore, illustration from 1837

Rum's association with piracy also dates back to the early 18th century : the pirates who cruised between the American east coast and the Bahamas preyed on rum barrels that were to be transported from the Caribbean to North America. Blackbeard , one of the most famous pirates of the time, was also known for his unusually high rum consumption. Even today, some rum brands, such as Captain Morgan , advertise a pirate figure. The connection between buccaneering and rum found literary immortality in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island , which was first printed in 1881. Billy Bones, one of the protagonists of the novel, reveals the dubious origin of his wealth, among other things through his high rum consumption.

“I've been to places where it was as hot as hell, and my comrades fell around me like flies […] And I stayed alive, I tell you, and that's what the rum made. It was for me eating and drinking, and we were like husband and wife; and if I'm not supposed to have my rum, then I'm a poor old wreck on a lee coast [...] "

The connection between rum and piracy is captured even more emphatically in a song that Billy Bones and later the other pirates sing again and again:

“Fifteen men on the dead man's chest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the Devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! "

“Fifteen men with the dead man's
box, and a bottle, bottle of rum!
Suff and the devil got the rest of
Johoho, and a bottle, bottle of rum. "

Rum and the British Navy

Harwich , 1943: Wrens carry rum rations on board a departing British naval ship

In 1655 rum was first given to British navy personnel as an official part of the ration. Drinking water and beer spoiled quickly under the climatic conditions of the Caribbean, Spanish wines and French brandy were usually part of the on-board catering. However, these two alcoholic beverages were difficult to come by in the Caribbean. Rum was not only available, but also gained from storage in wooden barrels. In addition, the plantation owners of the British Caribbean colonies in Great Britain advocated the use of rum instead of other, mostly imported spirits. In 1779, the British Royal Navy was officially commissioned to replace the brandy (mainly from France) on board British ships with Caribbean rum. At this point, rum distribution had long been the practice. In 1740 the English Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon (1684–1757) stationed in the area of ​​the West Indies first gave the order to only distribute the rum mixed with water. The ratio he set was one part rum to four parts water and the ration was set at two doses a day. Vernon wanted to make sure that the sailors did not drink their ration all at once and do their duties in a drunken state. The grog , one of the typical seafaring drinks worldwide, goes back to Vernon's instructions . The name of this drink is said to go back to Vernon's nickname "Old Grog", as he usually wore a warm cloak made of grogram , a coarse fabric made of silk and wool . As early as 1756, the daily distribution of rum diluted with water was specified in the British "Naval Code".

The increasing importance of the abstinence movement ensured that the rum rations were increasingly reduced over the coming decades. Instead, the seafarers received larger rations of tea, cocoa and meat as compensation. At the same time as the volume was reduced, the quality of the British marine rum became increasingly better and was a mixture of rums from various British colonies.

The practice of distributing rum ratios to members of the Royal Navy existed until 1970. This practice increasingly seemed out of date: British newspapers indicated that seafarers were being given a ration that would not entitle them to drive a craft. On July 31, 1970, Black Tot Day , rum was handed out to members of the Royal Navy for the last time as an official part of the catering.


In addition, there are many rum brands that are made on the old "Habitations" (goods). For this purpose, the distilled rum is bought from one of the seven distilleries and matured in the habitation in oak barrels (white rum stored in stainless steel barrels) and later bottled there. Well-known brands are:

A bottle of "Marlin Black Label" from the island of Tonga.



Flensburg, the only historical German rum metropolis with formerly over 300 distilleries, has a rum museum that describes the production, the history of rum and the German-Danish-West Indian rum trade. The information about Flensburg as the former largest European rum production and trading location is also interesting. The museum is located in the Shipping Museum Flensburg , directly on the Flensburg ship bridge .


In the old town of the Cuban capital Havana , the so-called La Habana Vieja , there is the Havana Club Rum Museum operated by the Cuban company Havana Club , which is supposed to convey the history of rum. Guided by museum guides, you can learn everything about the production of rum - from harvesting the sugar cane, the distillation, to the construction of the oak barrels required, to proper storage. Afterwards, different rums can be tasted and also bought in the Havana Club Boutique . Next door is the Havana Club Bar , where you can enjoy cocktails and Creole cuisine with traditional Cuban live music .


On the Caribbean archipelago and at the same time the French overseas department of Guadeloupe there are numerous museums, each at the individual rumdestellerien (French: Rhum). For example at the Reimonenq Distillery on Basse-Terre , the larger of the two main islands.

See also


Wayne Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails . printed: Broadway Books, New York 2006, ISBN 0-307-51285-1 / E-Book: 1st edition, Crown Publishers, New York 2006, ISBN 1-4000-5167-3 .

Web links

Commons : Rum  - Collection of Images
Wiktionary: Rum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Anatoly Liberman : The Rum History of the Word “Rum” (article on his blog The Oxford Etymologist , October 6, 2010)
  2. a b c Regulation (EC) No. 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of January 15, 2008 , Appendix II, 1. Rum (see also: Spirits . On: ).
  3. The Federal Authority of the Swiss Confederation: Minimum alcohol content of spirits . On: ; last accessed on October 19, 2015.
  4. Wolfgang Legrum: Fragrances, between stench and fragrance. E-book, Vieweg + Teubner, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-8348-8276-9 , p. 86 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  5. Torben Bornhöft: There's sugar in my rum . On: from January 26, 2014; last accessed on October 19, 2015.
  6. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 173.
  7. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 182.
  8. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 186.
  9. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 244.
  10. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 332.
  11. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 351.
  12. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 355.
  13. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 359.
  14. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 395.
  15. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Kill-Devil , Ebook-Position 431.
  16. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 607.
  17. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 981.
  18. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Flip , Ebook-Position 999.
  19. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Flip , Ebook item 1033.
  20. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Flip , Ebook item 1114.
  21. ^ W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Flip , Ebook item 1141.
  22. ^ A b W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Medford Rum , Ebook-Position 1334.
  23. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook item 726.
  24. Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island. Chapter 3: The Black Spot .
  25. Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island.
  26. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 775.
  27. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook position 811.
  28. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 820.
  29. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 847.
  30. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 851.
  31. W. Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum. New York 2006, Chapter: Grog , Ebook-Position 856.
  32. Carlotta Frommer: Revolte Rum initiates the German rum revolution . On: from August 18, 2015; last accessed on February 11, 2016.
  33. a b c d company page → Products from South Seas Rum
  34. on Google maps