Sugar cane variety from all over the world.
It's not just r(h)um in drinks that brings you a taste of the Caribbean. Some aged r(h)ums should also be drunk neat.
Just to be clear: Rum is the anglicised spelling, whereas in the French colonies the fine tipple made from sugar cane was always referred to as rhum.
The history of r(h)um is a very long one: Sugar cane was one of the world's first crops and is native to Asia. It was Christopher Columbus who, in 1494, brought the up to 6 metres high sugar cane plant to the Caribbean and in so doing laid the foundations for its cultivation. But it was not until the 17th century that slaves working on the sugar plantations discovered that molasses, a by-product of sugar production, could be fermented to produce alcohol.
Later, impurities were removed by distillation. The inevitable result of this was to concentrate the alcohol, and the first true rum was born. Shortly afterwards there was a real boom when rum was produced on Caribbean islands from Jamaica to Haiti to Cuba. It is said that before the American War of Independence, every man, woman and child in the American colonies drank 14 litres of rum annually. And the rum continued to flow freely after the War of Independence. Even George Washington insisted on a barrel of Barbados rum for his inauguration. During the time that followed, rum continued to play an important role in political life. For example, attempts were made to gain support during elections by being generous with the rum.
The widespread link between rum and piracy arose as a result of the extensive trade in rum conducted by the British. Many of the British became pirates and maintained their love of rum. Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" helped to finally cement the association between the two. Rum also found great favour with the Royal Navy. The daily ration of Cognac that its sailors had previously drunk was replaced by a rum ration at the end of the 17th century.
Rum was also sometimes drunk with gunpowder in order to show solidarity with rebels or to swear and oath. It goes without saying that this type of consumption is not advisable. In any case, rum can be enjoyed in a whole host of ways and all tastes catered to without resorting to such nonsense. In the Caribbean, the rum of each island and production area has its own style and character. The rums of the Spanish-speaking islands such as Cuba and Panama are mostly soft and velvety. The English-speaking islands such as Barbados and Grenada are famous for darker, stronger rums. The rums for which the French-speaking part of the Caribbean is famous, Rhum Agricole, are very light and are made directly from the sugar cane.