Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rum - A Jamaican specialty!

Think about the world in 1749.  American was land back then, no cars, no planes...vastly different than today.  Except for one thing - Appleton Estates in Jamaica was making rum.  This post is going to explore this Caribbean drink and from inception to your glass at home.

(Ladies near Montego Bay in 1900 preparing
sugar cane, the start of all good rum)

The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th century. Plantation slaves first discovered that molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, can be fermented into alcohol.  Later, distillation of these alcoholic by-products concentrated the alcohol and removed impurities, producing the first true rums. Tradition suggests that rum first originated on the island of Barbados.

(sugar cane)

 But rum has it's place in dark history, in 1700 alone, approximately 25,000 Africans were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic Ocean. Up to two-thirds of these slaves were bound for sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Brazil to produce "White Gold."  

Soon after Rum's popularity spread to Colonial America where there are estimates that had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 Imperial gallons (13.5 liters) of rum each year.  Kids pounding down rum, that's kinda nuts!

A triangular trade was established between Africa, the Caribbean, and the colonies to help support this new need for sugar and the rum that it produced.  The exchange of slaves, molasses, and rum was quite profitable, and the disruption to the trade caused by the Sugar Act in 1764 may have even helped cause the American Revolution.
(Modern rum barrels fermenting your rum)

The process of creating rum

Rum is created by mixing this sugary molasses or sugarcane juice with yeast and water to start the fermentation process.   You see, there is no set standard in rum production.  Each country, each plant, has their own special processes unlike scotch or other drinks.  In Jamaica the yeast used us typically "dunder" which is a yeast rich foam from past fermentations. 

(Joy Spence - Master Blender
for Appleton Rum)
After this blend is distilled it's sent off for aging which can be done in old school barrels like you see above or even in huge metal drums.  Depending on the quality of rum they're trying to make they'll leave it there for a year up to 30 years as in the case of Appelton's special $300 to $400 dollar bottle they released in 2008.  (only 1,440 bottles were released)


2010's Official "Cocktail of the Tale" Winning Drink
"Death in the South Pacific"

0.75 oz. Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old rum
0.75 oz. Rhum Clement VSOP rum
0.5 oz. Grand Marnier
0.33 oz. Trader Tiki’s Orgeat Syrup
0.33 oz. Fee Brothers Falernum
3 dashes Absinthe
0.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
0.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Fee Brothers Grenadine
0.5 oz. Cruzan Blackstrap rum

Add all ingredients except for the grenadine and Cruzan Blackstrap to a Zombie shell glass and fill with crushed ice. Swizzle the drink well to mix and frost the glass and then pour in grenadine. Overfill the glass with crushed ice and then pour in Cruzan Blackstrap.

Take a bamboo skewer and put a brandied cherry through at the very top followed by 1 pineapple leaf (insert through the middle) and then cut off skin from 1 large orange slice and then cut the strips in half. Insert the ends through the skewer having them hang on opposite sides of each other. Then insert the straw through the loop in the bamboo skewer. It should look like a guy hanging off of the drink (cherry=head, pineapple leaf= arms, citrus peel dangling away from each other are the legs)

(The "Death in the South Pacific" in it's full glory)

So maybe you like sipping on some rum in Jamaica or your favorite vacation get-a-way.  Maybe you just like having it at dinner at your local restaurant.  Perhaps even at home!  Anytime is a good time for rum to put you back in that Caribbean frame of mind.


  1. This is a very informative Blog about Rum in Jamaica. I consider myself to be knowledgeable in Jamaican Rum and even I learned some great facts about the subject.

    Thank you,
    Jon Callahan

  2. Thank you Jon Callahan! Glad you're also a fan of rum, how can anyone NOT be!



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