Koru Rum is a kenyan made drink Rum is a liquor made by fermenting and then distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. The distillate, a clear liquid, is usually aged in oak barrels. Most rums are produced in Caribbean (most famously Jamaica and Cuba) and other parts of the Americas, but also in other sugar-producing regions, such as the Philippines and Taiwan.
Rums are produced in various grades. Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas “golden” and “dark” rums were typically consumed straight or neat, iced (“on the rocks”), or used for cooking, but are now commonly consumed with mixers. Premium rums are made to be consumed either straight or iced.
Rum plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies as well as the Maritime provinces and Newfoundland, in Canada. The beverage has famous associations with the Royal Navy (where it was mixed with water or beer to make grog) and piracy (where it was consumed as bumbo). Rum has also served as a popular medium of economic exchange, used to help fund enterprises such as slavery (see Triangular trade), organized crime, and military insurgencies (e.g., the American Revolution and Australia’s Rum Rebellion).
The Mount Gay Rum visitors centre in Barbados claims to be the world’s oldest active rum company, with earliest confirmed deed from 1703.
The origin of the word “rum” is unclear. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that it is related to “rumbullion”, a beverage made from boiling sugar cane stalks, or possibly “rumbustion,” which was a slang word for “uproar” or “tumult”; a noisy uncontrollable exuberance, though the origin of those words and the nature of the relationship are unclear. Both words surfaced in English about the same time as rum did (1651 for “rumbullion”, and before 1654 “rum”).
There have been various other theories:
- It is often connected to the British slang adjective “rum”, meaning “high quality”, and indeed the collocation “rum booze” is attested. Given the harshness of early rum, this is unlikely.
- That it is related to ramboozle and rumfustian, popular British drinks of the mid-17th century. However, neither was made with rum, but rather eggs, ale, wine, sugar, and various spices.
- That it comes from the large drinking glasses used by Dutch seamen known as rummers, from the Dutch word roemer, a drinking glass.
- Other theories consider it to be short for iterum, Latin for “again; a second time”, or arôme, French for aroma.
Regardless of the original source, the name was already in common use by 1654, when the General Court of Connecticut ordered the confiscations of “whatsoever Barbados liquors, commonly called rum, kill devil and the like”. A short time later in May 1657, the General Court of Massachusetts also decided to make illegal the sale of strong liquor “whether knowne by the name of rumme, strong water, wine, brandy, etc”.
In current usage, the name used for a rum is often based on its place of origin.
For rums from places mostly in Latin America where Spanish is spoken, the word ron is used. A ron añejo (“aged rum”) is a premium spirit.
Rhum is the term that typically distinguishes rum made from fresh sugar cane juice from rum made from molasses in French-speaking locales like Martinique. A rhum vieux (“old rum”) is an aged French rum that meets several other requirements.
Some of the many other names for rum are Nelson’s blood, kill-devil, demon water, pirate’s drink, navy neaters, and Barbados water. A version of rum from Newfoundland is referred to by the name screech, while some low-grade West Indies rums are called tafia.
Shidhu, a drink produced by fermentation and distillation of sugarcane juice, is mentioned in Sanskrit texts. Maria Dembinska states that the King, Peter I of Cyprus, also called Pierre I de Lusignan (9 October 1328 – 17 January 1369), brought rum with him as a gift for the other royal dignitaries at the Congress of Kraków, held in 1364. This is plausible given the position of Cyprus as a significant producer of sugar in the Middle Ages, although the alcoholic sugar drink named rum by Dembinska may not have resembled modern distilled rums very closely. Dembinska also suggests Cyprus rum was often drunk mixed with an almond milk drink, also produced in Cyprus, called soumada.
Another early rum-like drink is brum. Produced by the Malay people, that beverage dates back thousands of years. Marco Polo also recorded a 14th-century account of a “very good wine of sugar(cane)” that was offered to him in the area that became modern-day Iran.
The first distillation of rum in the Caribbean took place on the sugarcane plantations there in the 17th century. Plantation slaves discovered that molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, could be fermented into alcohol. Then, distillation of these alcoholic byproducts concentrated the alcohol, and removed some impurities, producing the first modern rums. Tradition suggests this type of rum first originated on the island of Nevis. A 1651 document from Barbados stated:
“The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor.”
However, rum production was also recorded in Brazil in the 1520s, and many historians believe that rum found its way to Barbados along with sugarcane and its cultivation methods from Brazil. A liquid identified as rum has been found in a tin bottle found on the Swedish warship Vasa, which sank in 1628.
By the late 17th century rum had replaced French brandy as the exchange-alcohol of choice in the triangle trade. Canoemen and guards on the African side of the trade, who had previously been paid in brandy, were now paid in rum
Colonial North America
After development of rum in the Caribbean, the drink’s popularity spread to Colonial North America. To support the demand for the drink, the first rum distillery in the Thirteen Colonies was set up in 1664 on Staten Island. Boston, Massachusetts had a distillery three years later. The manufacture of rum became early colonial New England’s largest and most prosperous industry. New England became a distilling center due to the technical, metalworking and cooperage skills and abundant lumber; the rum produced there was lighter, more like whiskey. Much of the rum was exported, distillers in Newport, R.I. even made an extra strong rum specifically to be used as a slave currency. Rhode Island rum even joined gold as an accepted currency in Europe for a period of time. While New England triumphed on price and consistency Europeans still viewed the best rums as coming from the Caribbean. Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 imperial gallons (14 l) of rum each year.
In the 18th century ever increasing demands for sugar, molasses, rum, and slaves led to a feedback loop which intensified the triangular trade. When France banned the production of rum in their New World possessions to end the domestic competition with brandy, New England distillers were then able to undercut producers in the British West Indies by buying cut rate molasses from French sugar plantations. Outcry from the British rum industry led to the Molasses Act of 1733 which levied a prohibitive tax on molasses imported into the Thirteen Colonies from foreign countries or colonies. Rum at this time accounted for approximately 80% of New England’s exports and paying the duty would have put the distilleries out of business: as a result, both compliance with and enforcement of the act were minimal. Strict enforcement of the Molasses Act’s successor, the Sugar Act, in 1764 may have helped cause the American Revolution. In the slave trade, rum was also used as a medium of exchange. For example, the slave Venture Smith (whose history was later published) had been purchased in Africa, for four gallons of rum plus a piece of calico.
The popularity of rum continued after the American Revolution; George Washington insisting on a barrel of Barbados rum at his 1789 inauguration.
Rum started to play an important role in the political system; candidates attempted to influence the outcome of an election through their generosity with rum. The people would attend the hustings to see which candidate appeared more generous. The candidate was expected to drink with the people to show he was independent and truly a republican.
Eventually the restrictions on sugar imports from the British West Indies, combined with the development of American whiskeys, led to a decline in the drink’s popularity in North America.
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