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Rum’s history isn’t an easy or pretty one, but it is an important part of the world’s history. Without Rum I’m not sure how New England would have turned out… sugar cane was first cultivated in New Guinea and first fermented as early as ~350 BC in India. Back then, however, these fermented drinks were primarily used medicinally and with purpose. Fast forward to the 1400s, where the explorers we all learned about started opening up the worlds trade routes through their explorations. As remote islands began to be discovered, so was a perfect climate for growing sugar cane.
The discovery of Barbados in the early 1600s was an important gate to Rum’s soon to be global popularity. Given the perfect climate of Barbados, explorer Richard Ligon brought in sugar cane expertise from Brazil including equipment, slaves and most importantly, distillation know-how. In less than 10 years the sugar barons of Barbados became some of the richest in the world, with a prospering sugar and rum export industry. Rumour has it, this spirit was initially known as “kill devil” for it’s strong effects with a less than desirable taste. While the poor drank it straight, others began mixing it with sugar, lime and other ingredients to make early rum punches. As time went on, there are indications of the spirit also being referred to as Rumbullion or Rumbustion. Both of these terms meant upheaval or violent commotion – likely for the effect that this spirit had on those who drank it. Eventually shortened to Rum we have our modern name for this spirited drink.
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