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Where it began

Rum and the Caribbean

Rum is produced from sugar cane by-products and most historians agree that sugar cane distillates were being made in Asia and South America years before rum’s birth in the Caribbean. Most individuals wouldn’t guess that sugar cane isn’t native to the Caribbean, it was brought over by European settlers in the 15th century. On Christopher Columbus’ 3rd voyage to the “new world” he brought 1200 seedlings of sugar cane and planted them on the island of Hispanola, present day the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The first distillation of rum is argued between many Caribbean and South American countries, but Barbados has the oldest rum distillery recorded in 1703.

Rum and America

Although the home of rum is in the Caribbean, rum was the national drink of America prior to the American Revolution. In 1764, the ruling English imposed the Sugar Act, imposing taxes on sugar and molasses onto the colonies, which greatly affected American rum distilleries’ profitability.

After the American Revolution, restrictions on trade with the British islands in the Caribbean led to an increased price and combined with the development in American whiskey, rum began to lose popularity.

In 1919 prohibition in America was passed and alcohol was illegal. Whisky was one of the most widely ‘bootlegged’ liquors to make its way to American shores but so too was rum, which boosted rum’s popularity once again.

Tiki cocktail culture

In 1937 Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt opened Don the Beachcomber’s in Hollywood, California, largely believed to be the first Tiki/Polynesian cocktail bar.

Three years later, Vic Bergeron (later Trader Vic) opened Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California, and the Tiki bar.

Ernest and Trader Vic are thought to be the two pioneers of the Tiki cocktail revolution which involved the creation of rum based exotic drinks, often served in a hand-carved mug featuring Polynesian motifs. Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt (who changed his name to Don the Beachcomber) created the popular Zombie and Missionary’s Downfall cocktails and Trader Vic created the Scorpion and Fogcutter cocktail - thought to be the first cocktail served in a ‘Tiki mug’.

How it is made

Rum can only be produced by sugar cane by-products with molasses, sugar cane syrup, or sugar cane juice the most popular.

Rum must be distilled in a sugar cane growing country, but can be aged anywhere.

Sugar cane (or watered-down molasses) is fermented, distilled and then sometimes aged. Light rums are usually distilled in a continuous still while heavy rums are usually distilled in a pot still. Colour in rums can come from ageing in oak casks or by adding caramel.

One of the most important parts of the make-up of rum is its blending. A bottle of rum can be the result of several different rums skilfully blended together by a master blender. This process can take years of training and techniques are passed down from generation to generation to keep with tradition, heritage and to reinforce the brand identity of particular rum companies.

Types of Rum

Light or white rums - tend to be un-aged and have a more neutral, dry character.

Golden rums - are normally aged in “once used” or “fresh filled” American oak barrels and they often have tropical fruit or oak aromas.

Dark rums - tend to be aged longer in barrels than lighter rums and have extra caramel added for colour. Dark rums usually have dried fruit, toffee, spice and oak aromas.

Top tip: Rather than separate your rums by their colour, you are best to categorise your rums by country, as some rum producing nations have their own definitions of what rum is.

For example:

  • All rums from Venezuela have to be aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels before they can be called rum.
  • In Puerto Rico all rums have to be aged for a minimum of one year.
  • In Jamaica all aged statements on rum bottles are the youngest rum in the blend, while in Panama they use average age statements.
  • In Guatemala all rums are made from virgin cane honey or syrup, while agricole rhums from Martinique are made from fresh sugar cane juice.

Key serves

Captain & cola


125ml Cola

1 Lime wedge


Fill a glass 3/4 with ice.


Pour in cola.

Throw in a lime wedge.

Raise a glass to your crew.
(2 standard drinks – 1.8 units per serve)

White rum mojito

100ml Soda water
25ml Sugar syrup
7 Mint leaves
2 Lime wedges


Using a muddler, press the mint leaves, lime wedges and sugar syrup in a highball glass to squeeze out the juices.
Add crushed ice to the glass.
Pour in CAPTAIN MORGAN WHITE RUM and soda water.
Stir vigorously until all of the ingredients are mixed.
Top with more crushed ice, throw in a straw and garnish with a mint sprig.

(2 standard drinks – 1.9 units per serve)

Mai tai

50ml Pineapple juice
25ml Lime juice
10ml Orgeat syrup
1 Orange wedge
1 Pineapple wedge


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
Pour CAPTAIN MORGAN JAMAICA RUM, pineapple juice, lime juice and orgeat syrup into the shaker.
Shake vigorously until the shaker feels cold.
Strain the cocktail into a tankard over ice cubes.
Cut an orange and pineapple wedge and place in the drink to garnish.
Throw in a lime wedge.
Raise a glass to your crew.

(1.4 standard drinks – 1.9 units per serve)

To help you boost your sales download free CAPTAIN MORGAN menu and recipe cards.
Did you know?
A recent trend in the world of rum has been rum companies experimenting with a variation of wooden casks to achieve a different type of finish to their rums. Limousin oak or ex cognac barrels are regularly used to give a dryer finish to a rum, while dry sherry casks are used subtly to impart a medium “sherry like” texture and feel to the finish of the rum.


  • Captain Morgan

    Captain Morgan

    Classic spiced and dark rums taking their name from the intrepid 17th century buccaneer. Today Captain Morgan is one of the world's best-selling rums.

  • Pampero Rum

    Pampero Rum

    Produced in Venezuela: Pampero is intense, sweet and spicy, with a delicious, long, lingering finish.

  • Zacapa Rum

    Zacapa Rum

    Zacapa is crafted at 2,300 metres above sea level in the Guatemalan highlands to develop subtle, spiced flavours of delicious, raisined fruit. 

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(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)